Elderly Info

The food crisis in Guatemala is having a devastating effect on the elderly. Without enough to eat, many older people are becoming weak and malnourished, leaving them more vulnerable to illnesses that they cannot afford medical care for. They are unable to provide for even their most basic needs. In many cases, family members are unable to help as they struggle to feed themselves and their own children, leaving the elderly without any form of support and often living in heartbreaking conditions.

Please help us bring them the life-sustaining food and medical care that they so desperately need. General donations are used to ensure that we always have an adequate supply of food, medicine, and funds for meals, necessary medical treatment, and transportation. Monthly sponsorship would help feed one person, once a day for five days a week. Via blog and web album, we'll show you exactly where your aid is going and help you get to know the men and women whose lives you are changing.

If you would like to sponsor an elderly person for $35 a month, please click here and write "monthly sponsorship'' in the Other box. To make a one-time donation for medicine, rent, or other costs, please click here and enter "Elderly Care Program" in the Other box. Any questions can be directed to Amy at amy@mayanfamilies.org

Media on Mayan Families Elderly

Ancianos : Megan Gette + photos by Rob Bain, Nisa East, Rhett Hammerton and Hiroko Tanaka

Mayan Families- Ancianos Stories : Nisa East

Mayan Families Elderly Feeding Care Program : Rhett Hammerton

Facing Hunger: Elderly in Rural Guatemala

Sep 27, 2010

Pedro Julajuj - Sponsored

Pedro Julaju

(A-6) Status: Sponsored

Update September 20, 2013: Last Friday Pedro was walking near his house and suddenly became dizzy and fell and hurt his back. We went to check on him in his home and it was clear he was in a lot of pain so we took him to the doctor. Thankfully, Pedro did not break a rib but he did have some serious bruising that was causing him pain and making it difficult for him to even walk. The doctor gave him an injection and some medicines for the pain. On Monday we went to visit him again and take him back to the doctor. Pedro seemed to be doing better and was moving around easier. The doctor gave him another injection for the pain and some more medicine. He also gave Pedro some geriatric multi-vitamins. We are currently looking for $100 (US) to cover the costs of these visits and the medicines. The doctor would also like to figure out what is causing Pedro's dizzy spells and after taking Pedro's blood pressure, the doctor has requested an ECG. I will keep you updated on the status of this appointment.

While visiting Pedro we also noticed he had a few tiny leaks in his roof and because it is the rainy season down here, water was dripping onto his bed. Pedro had been using a sheet of plastic to keep his bed dry, especially since he had been laying in bed a lot after his injury. We were able to rearrange his room so that his bed was no longer under the leaks in the roof and we also filled in the holes in the roof to prevent any further leaks.

For more stories and photos of the ancianos in the Feeding Program, please consider purchasing a book compiled of our participants. All profits go to the Elderly. You can preview the book here.

Pedro Julaju is a very sweet, gentle 75-year-old man. He never married and has no children, and has been completely alone since his brother died several years ago. He used to scrape by with odd jobs (carrying bundles and cleaning), but due to diminished health (severe leg pain after a fall, an eye problem for which we just sought treatment, stomach ailments, and general aging), Pedro has had a lot of trouble finding work. A local family gives him a place to sleep in the corner of a small shed, but for food Pedro must rely on the daily lunch provided by Mayan Families, the few tortillas that he can sometimes afford, and the kindness of neighbors.

Pedro is always happy to see us when we come to visit, and although he cannot hear very well and does not speak much Spanish (his primary language is Kaqhiquel), he always manages to communicate kind words, thanks, and affection. Your support would ensure that Pedro no longer goes hungry, allow for him to seek more comprehensive medical care and pain relief, and perhaps more simply put some light in Pedro’s life by letting him know that he is not alone.

* October 2010 Update *
Pedro has found sponsorship for his wonderful new home! Pedro and Mayan Families send out deepest thanks to all of his supporters.
For more of this truly heartwarming story, click here.


Sep 26, 2010

After His Stroke, Tereso Needs Medicine

                             *Feb 2011*
Tereso still suffers from  dizziness and headaches, but he is doing quite well. We gave him his medication and vitamins yesterday and he was very grateful. Thank you so much to the donor who is providing Tereso with this important medication to help with his blood pressure!!

* December 3, 2010 Update *
We have received a donation for four months of Tereso's medications! Thank you so much for your support. To make an additional contribution towards Tereso's medicine needs, which cost $25/month, please click here and enter "Elderly Care, Tereso medicine" in the Other box.

Tereso's doctor also recommended that Tereso begin physical therapy sessions in order to recover use of the body parts he lost partial access to after his stroke. Each physical therapy session for Tereso would cost just $5, including transportation. We would love to get him started--One or two sessions a week would be ideal. To make a monthly contribution towards Tereso's physical therapy needs, please click here and enter "Elderly Care, Tereso physical therapy" in the Other Program section. From Tereso and Mayan Families, thank you so much!

* November 26, 2010 Update * 
Tereso is about to run out of the new medication that has helped him so much.  
Tereso is looking better than ever now that he
is on medication! Unfortunately, however, it is
going to run out this week, and so his
convulsions and dizzy spells will likely return.
Tereso has had recently enjoyed huge improvments to his life--a comfortable new bed, and a visit to a good doctor who prescribed him medicine that has helped him tremendously. As you can see in the photo, Tereso looks like a new man! He is stronger and happier with his new medicines, and his symptoms are finally under control.

But in less than a week Tereso will run out of the medicine that has made such a great difference for him. Unfortunately we do not have the funds to buy Tereso these anticonvulsion, pro-circulation, and pain medicines that he relies on--They cost $25 a month.

Without his medicine, Tereso suffers from convulsions, dizzy spells, and severe headaches. Often the symptoms are so bad that Tereso cannot walk or even get off his chair, and sometimes the dizzy spells are so intense that he just falls off of his chair from seated position. His inability to function normally when he is off of medicination also distresses Tereso emotionally.

Please help us prevent Tereso from going back to an unhealthy, painful state. To support Tereso's medical needs with a monthly donation, please click here and enter "Elderly Care, Tereso" under Other Program. Any amount donation would be a great help. To make a one-time donation towards Tereso's medical needs, please click here and enter "Elderly Care, Tereso" in the Other section. Thank you so much.

Tereso receiving some sock donations, and laughing as he struggles to untangle them!

*November 12, 2010 Update* 
We just delivered Tereso's new bed and mattress! He is so happy and grateful.
This is such a great comfort for Tereso. He and Mayan Families send out their deepest thanks to his supporters.
*October 28, 2010 Update* 
We have gotten a donation to buy Tereso a bed and mattress, as well as 2 blankets and 2 months of his medications!
Tereso had such a wide smile when he heard the news! We'll be delivering the bed, mattress, and blankets on Friday, November 12th. Thank you so very much for your support. We'll be sure to take photos on the big day.
Meet Tereso Cojon

Tereso Cojón will be 73 on October 15th. He has four grown children and 19 grandchildren.  Recently, after it became evident that Tereso was too feeble to live independently in the (empty, bare, and waterless) cinderblock home that he owned, Tereso moved to live in a house with several of his children and grandchildren. Though his children help him as much as they can, they are all struggling to feed their own families, so their support is limited to hosting him and sometimes bringing him a little bit to eat.

Tereso never went to school, so he cannot read or write, and he speaks very little Spanish (he speaks Kakchiquel).  A stroke four years ago left him without much use of his left arm and knee and suffering from “bad nerves,” making it very difficult for him to work and provide for himself.

Receiving a warm lunch from
Mayan Families
Since the stroke, Tereso tried repeatedly to seek medical treatment for his conditions, which include knee pain and arthritis, chronic headaches, shaking, and dangerous dizzy spells. For years, he suffered visibly--from the physical pain and, even worse, from the sorrow he felt in being unable to function normally because of his dizziness and convulsions. However, doctors at the local clinic constantly turned him away, saying that they cannot help these symptoms of aging.
Tereso was so grateful when Mayan Families staff took him to see a private doctor last Saturday (10/16) and Tuesday (10/19). The doctor prescribed for him the anti-convulsion and pain medicines and he suffered so terribly without, and Tereso has been doing remarkably better with the medicine. (*For details on his medication, see the bottom of this post.) Every day since he started taking his medicines, Tereso has been greeting us with a wide smile and repeated thanks. It has brought us a great amount of joy to see the change in him. 

We have bought Tereso approximately a month's supply of medicine for $15, but we are going to need help once the month's medicine runs out. Unfortunately, without our help (since he cannot work, and since his family cannot sufficiently support him), Tereso will not be able to afford the medicine that he badly needs.  Your support would make a wonderful impact on Tereso's quality of life by helping to afford him the medicine that he suffers so badly without. To sponsor Tereso with a monthly donation, please click here and enter "Elderly Care, Tereso" under Other Program.

Tereso by his current bed, covered by
a blanket donated by Mayan Families
Tereso currently has a low bed with a very old, uncomfortable spring mattress unsuitable for a person of his age and condition. Because of his bad knees and dizzy spells, it is difficult and dangerous for Tereso to get in and out of this low bed. A wonderful one-time gift for him would be a single bed and mattress, which costs $170. To give Tereso the gift of a new bed, please click here and enter "Elderly Care, Tereso's bed" in the Other box. Thank you so much!

* Tereso has been prescribed 80mg daily of Ginbilam (Ginkgo Biloba) and Meloxican for pain.

Rosa Rafaela - Sponsored

Rosa is so happy to have a sponsor! Thank you for making such a huge difference in her life.

Rosa Rafaela was widowed 30 years ago, and now lives with her daughter, Rebeca, and her 10-year-old granddaughter, who is one of our sponsored students.  Rosa is a sweet, youthful woman, and lucky to live with her loving family, but Rebeca can hardly afford to feed herself and her daughter, and she cannot support her mother.  Rosa’s other daughter, Sara, is also unable to help: she lost her home during hurricane Stan (2005), and now struggles to feed herself and her 20-year-old special needs daughter.

To support herself, Rosa Rafaela sells tacos, bread with beans, and tostados every morning at the schools around Panajachel.  She earns about $8 a week, which is not enough to pay for food, clothing, and shoes.  

Rosa and Rebeca's former home
Until just about a year ago, Rosa and her family faced a housing crisis. Rebeca had been paying rent for their residence, but became ill and could no longer work. When the rent was four months overdue, the family was evicted and left with nowhere to go. The stress left Rebeca, who already had ulcers, trembling with nerves for days. Mayan Families put them up in a room until they could get back on their feet and pay rent. 

Christmas '09, with a
beautiful gift package
We are very happy to soon be marking the one year anniversary of their new residence, where they have not had trouble with the landlord or making payments. Still, rent here runs very high--about $80 a month--and so the food and medical attention that Rosa is being afforded through sponsorship is critical and tremendously helpful.

In the third week of September we took Rosa to the doctor because of some eye and skin conditions that needed attention. Those issues are being attended to, and the doctor said that Rosa has the blood pressure of a quinceañera (fifteen-year-old)! We were all quite delighted to hear it, but not surprised!