Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Monday in Guatemala

Monday's are always busy days for us.
The food has to be delivered in lots of different directions for the pre schools.
We often have visitors and volunteers who like to go along for the ride.
Yesterday we had three new volunteers, all from my home country of Australia. It is funny to hear all these Australian accents around the office!

They were able to go on the food run to Chukumuk ..where they also helped install two stoves and delivered food to families.
They also got to visit a family who has been sponsored to start their own business selling second hand shoes...and another family who is having construction started on a new house. 

Gloria , Sandra and I went to visit the grandparents in San Jorge. 
The house is clean and there is room for the children to stay there.
The grandfather is elderly and very, very strict.  He is also in pain from an operation that he has had on his back and leg. 

We sat and talked to the grandparents for about an hour, with the four children sitting there. ( the mother still has the 4 year old with her)   I would have preferred that they were not there but the grandparents wanted to talk in front of them so that there was no misunderstandings. 

The grandparents are the parents of the father of the five children. 
It appears that the mother of these five children...was not the first wife 
According to the grandparents, their son did very well when he was with his first wife and he has four children with her. 

Then he met the mother of the five children and he left the first wife and went to live with the second wife.  
The first wife and the grandchildren  are  from San Jorge and appear to be  very connected to the family.

The grandparents have already given the son's piece of land into the names of his 4 children from his first wife . 
The second wife ( this was not a formal marriage) according to the grandparents lured their son away, she was already drinking and she turned him into a heavy drinker. They said that she would bring him lunch every day where he worked and stick a small flask into his lunch so that he could drink during the day.   

One of his brother's eventually found the father sitting in a park in very bad physical shape, they took him home, got him into hospital ,cared for him , spent a lot of money on his medical care, the doctor eventually told them that the father had cirrhosis and  would not be cured but could live longer if they gave him careful attention.  They had him at home and he was doing much better, then according to the grandfather, the second wife called up and asked him to come and visit them, ..against the family wishes, he went and when he got there he started 

drinking and died the next day. 

They are very bitter about this woman and feel that she is responsible for the death of their son.

The grandfather told me that when the children turned up , that they really did not know them. They had only seen them maybe once or twice before.  But he said that he thought that they could live with them and that they would be able to help out around the house.

They  have built a shoe shine box for the 12 year old so that he can go and shine shoes.  The money that the earns , the grandmother collects and keeps for him. She says that she is using this to buy his clothes.  He did , indeed have some brand new clothes from a few weeks ago but she also complained that some days he does not bring any money home and she suspects that he is using that money to buy food in the street.

The eldest girl, Karina who is 16 years old is basically looking after the younger children. The grandmother commented that sometimes she hits the younger ones.  
The grandfather is not happy with the girl who is approx. 11 years old. He says that she is rude and she will not study in school and she talks back to the teachers. 

He is very embarrassed  by this because his children always got good report cards and attention at school.  

The grandparents were supposed to go to court yesterday but decided to wait and talk to us first and listen to what we had to say.

We offered them the option that we could take the children to live under the supervision of Mayan Families but that it would have to be done legally..and that we would have a full time caretaker.  

That the children would go to school and could also do after school classes etc. 
That they would be free to go back to San Jorge whenever the grandparents wanted them to come , either permanently or just to visit for special occassions.

That we would be responsible for their food , clothing , shoes , education and medical care. 

The grandfather offered that we could do all that and rent them a house in San Jorge ..where the children could live alone with Karina to care for them and we could have a woman there to supervise them.

We said that we did not care for that idea.  
We don't like the idea of the children living alone.
We think it would be very difficult to find someone in San Jorge who would be able to give them the support that they need.

The grandfather then said that he would like the 12 year old boy to come to work with us so that he could learn to work. 
We offered that the 12 yr old boy, Karina and the other two girls, 11 yrs old and 8 yrs old. could come to the office compound daily....5 days a week and take computer classes, which are from till 11.30a.m. and then they could have lunch.   Then Karina and the boy can help around the office, the two younger ones can jump on the trampoline, take music classes and ( our just to have fun as kids!)    

We agreed that we would pay their bus fares daily and that they would arrive and leave at a set time so that the grandparents would know when they were expected home.

The grandparents liked this idea.

The kids all want to come and live at Mayan Families but they were also very keen on this idea of being able to come daily to classes etc.

Every decision here is made with the family. So the grandparents said that they would have to call a family meeting with all his children and they would make a family decision about this. 

We left, I felt, on very good terms with the grandparents.  
I would have liked to have scooped these children up and taken them with us.  Especially, the 8 year old girl  who picks at her fingernails all the time and looks so lost.

I really did not like them having to listen to how bad the family thought their mother was ...but things are not shielded from children here and I am sure that they have heard it all before. 

The grandfather said he would give us a decision in the next few days.   I am hopeful, at least, that the children will be able to come to the office 5 days a week to be able to have a break.
The grandparents also agreed that they would let the children go to the Elderly Care program to eat lunch every day. The children all insist that they are very hungry and do not get enough to eat.

After coming back to the office, 
there was one of our sponsored students , Petronila who is 9 years old.  She was being carried on her elderly father's back, her mother was also with them, looking very worried.

Petronila was obviously very ill , the doctor suspected that she had a fractured clavicle we called the bomberos ...which is the local ambulance ...and for  a small donation , they took the family, accompanied by a Mayan Families staff member ( the family does not speak Spanish...they speak Kakchiquel)  to the hospital.  If we send someone by ambulance they get attended to much , much faster...they go straight into the emergency room, rather than waiting for hours outside .   Even so , it was many hours that the family was at the hospital.  After x was decided that her clavicle was o.k. but the hospital suspects that Petronila has tuberculosis.  

If so, others in the family may also have it. Today , Tuesday , the family has to come back for more tests. We will send someone to accompany them.   We hope that they will be able to get to the hospital, they live in a very mountainous area...very isolated and it is hard for them to walk so far, especially carrying Petronila on their back.  This family lost everything back in 2010 when Tropical Storm Agatha caused such destruction from mudslides. They lost their house and were living in a Shelterbox tent that we erected.  I don't know whether they have managed to rebuild or not yet. 

Another one of our students came to the office later in the afternoon. She needed to talk to someone and quite often , we are the only place for some kids to be able to come. 
She has been sponsored by us for a long time but this is the first time , she has ever come in and asked to talk about what is going on with her. Once she started talking, the tears started flowing.   Jakelin is 18 years old.  She is the oldest of five children.  Her mother left them all to marry a man who did not want to take on the children.  They all stayed with the grandmother and were raised by her.  The grandmother and the children had a cart that they sold fruit from on the street and that is how they made their living.

  Earlier this year the grandmother died.  Reluctantly, the mother took them to live with her and the step father.   
Without the grandmother, the kids have not had the capital to buy fruit to be able to sell on their cart.  The mother is berating Jakelin for not working and not helping with the expenses of the home.  Jakelin came to see if we had work for her, she said that she was willing to work for any amount, she just wanted to make the situation better at home. She feels that her mother does not love her at all and that she and her siblings are a nuisance to the mother and the step father.   

We asked her does she still have the cart and she says that she has the cart and that she and the siblings want to go back to work but they do not have the capital to be able to do so.
We are hoping that someone would like to give Jakelin  $200 US so that she can buy her fruit and other things she needs to sell.  She has been working for 12 years on the cart...since she was 6 years old, she knows what to do , she knows how to do it...she just needs this money to be able to start.

Jakelin is hoping that once the business is going again that she will be able to afford to move her siblings into their own place.

Donations are coming in for the Tamale baskets and we are busy organizing Christmas parties for all the sponsored children and their siblings. 

.  Please keep your fingers crossed that we have enough toys for all the children.!
It is not too late to send in a donation for us to be able to buy toys here..either for your sponsored student or for children in general.

( we have some wonderful teddy bears that are nearly 3 feet high and they are only  $20...!)


Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

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