Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The plight of Special Needs Children in Guatemala

We have been very fortunate to have had a lovely couple here who were volunteering . Ben is an Occupational Therapist and his wife , Mary is a midwife. 
They also had a friend join them after a two weeks who was also an occupational therapist.

Ben specializes in helping special needs children so we gave him a list of the children who are special needs and arranged for him to visit them.

The findings of his visits were very sad and quite shocking.

One young 4 year old girl was sent home from the hospital to basically die.
She is having trouble swallowing and the mother is trying to get liquid down her throat.
She was terribly dehydrated and malnourished.  
We asked the mother to bring her in on Friday so that the doctor could put a tube in her throat and get liquids down her.

Another boy, he is now about 11 years old, and some of you may remember him. He has this unusual medical problem that his legs are growing and very , very thick and painful to walk looks like he has huge muscles....We have had several doctors look at him ( Guatemalan and U.S ) and all have suggested that the only thing to do is to amputate his legs.    Obviously, his parents do not want to do this. 
This young boy has a miserable does his mother.  He sits all day on a bed that has no mattress.....he has barely any movement because his arms are now being affected.  He is either losing the ability to move his arms or his muscles are weak from not being used.   His father is an alcoholic and does little to support the family. The mother has to go to work , working in the fields or washing clothes, whatever she can get to be able to feed the family.  This means that the boy is left alone , sitting in a small, dark room with no one to talk to , nothing to eat, unable to get out of his bed to go to the bathroom. 

The room that they live in is very tiny...and it is located in San Antonio Palopo.    Their home is  reached by walking up very steep path. The mother used to carry him on her back when he was younger so she could bring him out but now it is impossible for her to do that.

Jose , the boy , used to be able to go to school but no longer. We have arranged for the teacher to go to the house 3 times a week and help him to learn to read.
When Ben , the O.C. went we sent books, puzzles and lego blocks with him. Jose LOVED this.

Every child that Ben visited we sent several packs of emergency food and toys for them to have something to play with and to have some stimulation.

We knew the situation would not be good for these children, but really we had no idea how bad it was.

We are going to put a page onto our new website ( yes...we have a new website eventually coming out !)  and it will be devoted to special needs children ....if you know of anywhere we can apply to get help for these children, please let us know or even contact them yourselves and ask about help.

If anyone would like to help Jose...his needs are great but very basic.
He needs  a mattress.
A bath chair so that he can be bathed and also use it as a toilet . His "bathroom" is a shack, it is hard to reach, the door is narrow and his mother has to carry him on her back to get to the is just a latrine in a makeshift structure.
The family needs food.
Jose needs to be able to get re-evaluated again by a doctor in the city.
He is also having a lot of pain in his legs now, he was crying the day that Ben visited him.  He needs to have medication.
A radio or a portable dvd player so he could watch movies would be an incredible gift for him. .

When I feel like I am having a bad day...I am going to remember Jose's mother!

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lillian in Guatemala

Hi, many of you may remember , Lillian.  She is an orphan.  She was just 14 years old when she had her first baby to an older man who convinced her to leave her aunt and go and live with him.
She also took on the job of raising the man's 4 year old son.
Lillian is still living with the older man , he is about 44 years old approx. now.  She is nearly 20 years old now...she is pregnant with her 3rd child.   The man does not make enough to feed her  and the children . They are all malnourished. He apparenlty has a woman in another town that he goes to live with part time.  Lillian feels that she has nowhere to go to be able to leave this man.   She lives in a very remote area and really has very , very  little. 
She is 6 months pregnant and was examined by a visiting midwife that we had here. 
Until now she has not been able to receive medical care. 
The midwife is concerned that she has a vaginal infection and needs medication but she also needs to have an ultrasound.   The cost of the medicine and the ultra sound is $70 US.   
Lillian does not have a sponsor and we cannot afford to buy her the medicine unless we have someone who will donate it for her.
If you would like to help Lillian, please send a donation to FA76.  
Lillian's baby which is a year and  a half old is also in desperate need of having a sponsor for milk. 
She is no longer breastfeeding the baby because she is pregnant ( as is the custom here) but the family does not have enough food and the baby is malnourished.
Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Little Guillermo will be 6 years old soon!

Little Guillermo will be 6 years old soon! 

He started at the Mayan Families preschool in  Tierra Linda in 2010.
He has two older sisters and he had a baby brother. The baby became ill and died, he was vomiting and had diarrhea but the family could not afford medical attention. 
When Guillermo came to the Mayan Families preschool he was very malnourished. 
The family is poor and find it hard to have enough food to feed their family. 
The father went to school till 3rd grade but his parents could not afford to keep him in school. The mother did not have the opportunity to go to school . They both work in the fields and earn very little money.  Both of them speak Kakchiquel and just a little Spanish.

When Guillermo started at the preschool, we were struck by what beautiful big brown eyes he had!
Then the teacher told us that it was very difficult for Guillermo to see.....
We found out that Guillermo had a condition that would soon send him blind.
We wrote about him on our blog and thanks to the generosity of two wonderful people, Dee and Steve Musolino, Guillermo was able to have an operation that saved his sight. 
The doctors told us that Guillermo would have lost his sight completely in the next few months.
We are so grateful to the Musolino family who gave this little boy from a mountain village in Guatemala,  who they have never met, the gift of sight. 
Guillermo still needs to have several more procedures and we need to be able to continue the care for his eyesight .  We need the amount of $500 to be able to finish the operations that have been started.  This will include his transportation to the city and to have a translator go with the mother. 

Any amount, no matter how small will help us to be able to finish this care for Guillermo and make sure that he will not lose his sight.
If you are able to help Guillermo with even a small donation, we would be very grateful. 
You can send a donation to help Guillermo #1604 at
Thank you.

Sharon Smart-Poage
a registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity
Guillermo starts at Mayan Families in 2010.




Thursday, August 8, 2013

Juan, our construction manager...loses his baby daughter Tuesday morning

Sadly, Juan , our construction manager, who many of you will have met when you came  to do stoves and build houses, lost his baby girl this morning.
Juan was out with  a group installing stoves in San Antonio Palopo when we got the call that the baby was dying or was a confusing phone call....
we grabbed Dr . Louis de Pena and jumped in the car for the 5 minute drive to Juan's house.  

Juan had driven quickly back from San Antonio...I can't imagine what that drive was like for him.

When we arrived at the house there were about 4 women there who were sisters and an aunt of the mother, they were all wailing. Juan had just arrived.
Dr. Louis de Pena immediately tried to find a heartbeat and then started mouth to mouth on the baby.   He motioned to me that the baby was gone but he continued to try to resuscitate her.
Juan's oldest daughter, Mirsa, 9 years old was devastated. She was sobbing and she felt responsible as she was the one who carried the baby most of the time.

Juan had taken her to a clinic this morning  ( not the Mayan Families clinic ...this was much earlier than we open)  and they gave her medicine for a bacterial infection but the mother said that she started vomiting and then died.  An aunt revived her briefly by blowing in her mouth , the baby opened her eyes...and then she died and they could not revive her.

This was Juan's 5th child. 

At Mayan Families we are all shocked and saddened.
This afternoon the Mayan Families crew was to play soccer against one of the groups we have here....Juan, who loves soccer would have been one of the best players.
It is a much different day than we had planned.

We  have a white bow on the gate at the Mayan Families door.  Sadly, this signifies the death of a baby.

We have called the funeral home and arranged for a small white coffin to be delivered.
One of the spiritual leaders of the Mayan community has arrived and is washing the baby.....Sue Cudd, this is Catarina, the mother of your sponsored student.
The mother has chosen an outfit for her to put on.  Just yesterday we sent home some baby clothes for her.
We have loaned chairs and tables and sent down coffee, sugar and sweet bread.
Soon lots of people will be gathering and supporting the family to keep the long overnight vigil till the baby is buried tomorrow.
She would have been 4 months old on the 11 of this month.
A very sad day for all of us here.

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

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Our little clinic. ...In Honor of Ron Fletcher

Our little medical clinic sees a lot of people.  

They are people who do not have the money to buy the medicines that they need.
We rely on donations to help make this clinic able to help so many .
One of the ways to help the clinic is to donate the money for the medicine for just one day 
in Honor of a loved one.
Thursday and Friday's medicine was donated In Loving Memory of Ron Fletcher by Sue and Joy Cudd.
Thank you for choosing to honor Ron and his life through Mayan Families....the people who received the medicine will never know Ron but 
they will know the blessing of this wonderful gift in his memory.

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


Maria Antonieta

Maria Antonieta is our #1 student, our very first student....she is the first student that we registered when we started Mayan Families.
Her sponsor, Sue and her family, have stayed with Maria during her elementary school years, her jnr. high and high school years . 
Maria Antonieta was hoping to go to University. She wants to be a social worker.
But she fell in love, got married and has a beautiful baby her dreams are on hold right now of becoming a social worker but only for a short time.  Next year , Maria Antonieta is planning to start University , going on the week ends so that she can look after her family. 
She and her sponsor, Sue have a very close relationship...and Sue surprised Maria Antonieta with all the she needed for a birthday celebration...a very special birthday celebration, not only was it Maria Antonieta's birthday ,....but also the celebration of the daughter's first birthday.   There was cake, tamales and they both received beautiful new traditional clothing!
Thank you Sue for all you have done....Maria Antonieta has come a  long way!!
Sharon Smart-Poage
registered 501.(c).(3) Non Profit Charity