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

Mar 31, 2011

Andrea Buch lives with her grandchild Claudia. Claudia's mother committed suicide when Claudia was three years old, and Andrea has cared for her ever since. Claudia also had a little sister who was one year old when her mother died, but Andrea was unable to support both of them and she was forced to give the baby away to another family. Claudia's father abandoned her mother and he does not support them in any way, he is married and has a family.

Claudia's grandfather died 30yrs ago from alcoholism and thus raised her mother and now Claudia alone, always struggling to find enough to feed those dependent on her. Until Mayan Families found this little family of two, Claudia had never been to school because her grandmother could not afford it but she is very happy that thanks to her sponsor she now has the opportunity to go.

Andrea usually makes tortillas with beans and brings them to the market to sell on the week ends in Panajachel. She earns $2 US per day. Otherwise she weaves guipils and napkins. She earns $3 US in the week doing this. She has a total of $7 US per week to live on to feed herself and Claudia. However, Andrea has a serious problem with her eyesight. She has lost the sight in one eye and her other eye often hurts, and this is seriously affecting her capacity to work. She therefore has been earning much less in recent months.
Their diet consists mostly of wild herbs that they gather, beans and mostly tortillas with salt.

Even though Andrea owns the house they live in, she is unable to afford electricity. The house is on a very steep cliff and it is a long walk to the main highway, and a very steep walk up from the village's center where they must go to collect water to carry back home. They do not have a pila to wash their clothes and instead they must also carry these down to the village center and then carry them back up. They do not have a closet and so instead they keep their clothes in a cardboard box.

To support Andrea and Claudia to receive healthy hot lunches with the Mayan Families feeding program we estimate it will cost around $29 per month for each of them ($58 for both together). If you are able to assist this family please go to the donate monthly website, go to the other programs box and enter A 64.
Thank you so much!

Cayetana, Maria Anacleta and Guadalupe

Cayetana is 89 years old. She shares her bed and her one roomed house with one of her daughters, Guadalupe. Another daughter, Maria Anacleta lives next door. Cayetana's husaband died 8 years ago when he got hit my car while walking home one evening. Cayetana is in remarkable health considering her age and the life she has led. Her daughter Maria Anacleta is blind, and therefore relies on Cayetana to lead her whenever she leaves the house, they achieve this by Anacleta holding onto Cayetana's sleeve. Cayetana's other daughter, Guadalupe is also blind, and is furthermore unable to speak or walk. She is now 40 years old and her mother still has to assist her to wash and dress herself. They do not have any furniture other than the bed that Mayan Families donated to them 3 years ago, Cayetana and Guadalupe keep their clothes in a sack on the ground, and Anacleta keeps hers in a cardboard box. They share a kitchen that has a dirt floor and a corrugated iron roof and walls, however the walls and roof have a lot of holes and gaps and during the rainy season (a good 5 or 6 months every year) the floor becomes a quagmire of mud.
Cayetana, despite her advanced years is the only one of the three women who is able-bodied enough to collect wood to cook with. She has to climb up the steep mountain and then carry back her findings on her head and back.
Maria Anacleta
To support these women in receiving nutritious cooked lunches from the Mayan Families elderly program, and to provide cooking wood bought from the market rather than Cayetana having to fetch it from up the mountain and to provide pain medication and vitamins and a daily hot meal with Mayan Families, we estimate they each require a monthly donation of $67. To provide for Cayetana, please go to the donate monthly page, scroll down to the other programs box and enter A 60
If you would like to support Guadalupe, please go to the donate monthly page and enter A 61
To assist Maria Anacleta please go to the donate monthly page enter A 55
If you would like to make a one-time donation please go to the donate now page, scroll down to the other box and enter A60, A 61 or A 55.
Thank you so much!
Maria Anacleta's bed

Filomena Cun Palax

Filomena and her grown son, Felipe, lives in a little shack with no water, stove, electricity, or toilet. Felipe has some developmental disabilities; he has never been able to speak, though he can understand and perform simple tasks. Polimena never had the money for a doctor to properly diagnose Felipe, much less get him treatment.  Despite the challenges Felipe faces, he is their sole breadwinner. He works cleaning onions, which is one of the lowest paid and least stable types of day labor.  

They have virtually nothing.  They have no beds, nor even much room on the floor of their small shed, so neighbors let them sleep on the floor of their store room.  Though their home is high in the hills of San Jorge and temperatures drop significantly at night, Polimena and Felipe have only two or three blankets between them. 
Polimena and Felipe's single-room home.

They must also rely on the kindness of neighbors for water--sometimes they are able to borrow water from the neighbor's tap, but the rest of the time Polimena, who can't remember her age but is certainly too old for physical labor, must carry water from the communal tank in the center of town up the long, steep hill to their house.  They do not have a water filter, so whether their water comes from the neighbors or the center of town, it is contaminated.

The open fire that they use to cook.
If you would like to help Polimena and Felipe, with a bed ($170 for double bed and mattress), a water filter ($50 for the filter and cartridges which will last up to 2 years), a fuel-efficient stove ($160), firewood, or, most basically, food, you can do so on the Donate Now page, by entering the amount of your donation in the 'Other' box, and "filter (or stove, bed, etc.) for A42" in the 'details' box.  Thank you!

Mar 17, 2011

Alejandro Samines Saput

Alejandro with his new blanket!
Update April 7th
Thanks so much to generous donations, Alejandro now has a nice thick blanket to ward off the cold mountain air at night. He also has his first month of pain medication paid for. Thank you!

Original Post
Alejandro Samines Saput is 89 years old and lives alone following the death of his wife two years ago. He lives in a one room, dirt, floor house owned by his daughter.  Though Alejandro doesn't cook, the soot from the open fire he uses to heat his coffee each day has blackened the walls and ceiling of the house.

Alejandro can not work because he has trouble moving the right side of his body, and must always rely heavily on his cane to get around. Alejandro's health problems unfortunately do not end there--he can barely hear, and is plagued by painful cramps in his leg, which is badly scarred from a fall several years ago (he could not remember the exact date). 

He is lucky to have a daughter that can provide some support, though it isn't much.  She brings him a small amount of food weekly, which is all she can spare, as she is a widow who supports herself, her son, and her blind mother-in-law on the small salary she earns washing clothes in Panajachel.  Alejandro's only guaranteed meal is the lunch that is provided by the Mayan Families facility in San Jorge. Despite all the hardship in his life, Alejandro still has a wonderful upbeat personality. When asked (via his grandson, who shouted into his ear in Kaqchiquel) if he needed a mattress for his bed, he grinned and laughed, and pantomimed falling backwards and being swallowed up by his bed.  He doesn't like the sinking feeling of a soft mattress, so he's content with the grass mats on his bed, though he did admit, shyly, that he would like more blankets to ward off the mountain air at night.
A heavy wool blanket to keep Alejandro warmer at night can be bought for $20. We would also as like to provide him with pain medicine, which costs $8 per month.

 Alejandro also does not have a water filter.  A filter can be purchased for $50, which includes the filter and two filter cartridges that will provide him with clean water for between one and two years.

If you would like to provide Don Alejandro with some of these basic comforts, you can do so at Donate Now, by entering the amount of your donation in the "Other" box, and "A33" under "Details."

Alberta Quijeu needs a bed

Alberta perched happily on her new bed
Update April 19
Thanks again to generous donors, Alberta now has a thick warm blanket to go with her new bed. These donations make such a vast improvement to the lives of people here. Thank you so much

Update April 7th
We are very happy to announce that thanks to generous donations from Mayan Families supporters, Alberta now has a bed with a wonderful mattress, a gift that will improve her quality of life considerably. Sleeping on the floor especially during rainy season often brings a lot of health problems to the many people who face this dilemma in Guatemala. Furthermore this generous sponsorship of Alberta included a donation for comfortable shoes (we are yet to have Alberta come to Panajachel to choose herself a new pair!), a supply of medication for the month of April 2011 and a fortified milk based drink to tide Alberta over between Mayan Families lunches.
Thank you!

Original Post
Alberta Quijeu is 70 years old.  She lives with her grown son, who is an alcoholic.  The one-room house they share has very little besides a bed, a few chairs, and a water filter.  Unfortunately for Alberta, she is forced by her son to sleep on the ground with nothing but a reed mat for padding, while he sleeps in the bed.  When her son is sober enough to work, he might bring home a bit food for the two of them.  When he isn't--which is frequently--the lunch provided by Mayan Families is Alberta's only source of nourishment. 

Walking is also a problem for Alberta because her feet are always sore.  A nurse volunteering with Mayan Families gave her some acetaminophen, which she says helped significantly, but she does not have the money to keep buying the pills, so she must rely only on what is donated to Mayan Families. 

The chairs, which she brought out for us,
cover the cement floor where she sleeps.
With your help Mayan Families would like to provide Alberta with a bed and mattress of her own, and a steady supply of painkillers for what is most likely arthritis in her feet.  A single bed and mattress cost $75, and a month's supply of acetaminophen costs just $8.  To help Alberta with either of these basic comforts, or to give her the gift of you can go to Donate Now (for one time donations) or Donate Monthly (to set up an automatic monthly payment), and enter A49 as the "Family Name".  It will cost around $29 to provide her with a nutritious hot lunch everyday with Mayan Families. Thank you!

Mar 15, 2011

Marcela Sleeping on Floor

Update April 19
Marcela now has a brand new thick blanket to ward off the cold night here. This, along with the bed and mattress will make such a big improvement to Marcela's health conditions. Thank you so much for making this happen!

Update April 7
Thanks to very generous donations, Marcela now has a brand new comfortable bed and mattress to sleep on.  Marcela has had a terribly tough life and she was so grateful to receive this gift which will make a wonderful improvement to her current living conditions. She also has a donation to pay for her medication for the month of April 2011, as well as for a supply of incaparina, a milk based drink fortified with vitamins and minerals. We cannot express our gratitude on Marcela's behalf.

Original Post
Marcela Coh Samines is 87 years old.  She lives alone in a house owned by her only surviving child.  This little home consists of two small rooms--one a kitchen, and the other what passes for a bedroom.  Sadly, this second room contains no bed.  Instead, Marcela sleeps on a thin grass mat on the floor.  Until we gave her two more blankets that had been donated, she had only two blankets to keep her warm and cushion her from the hard ground. 

Though she suffers from asthma, she usually can't afford to buy the medication that she needs, which costs $23 per month, and she often suffers from a cough or wheezing.  She has electricity, but she doesn't have water connected, so she must carry her water from the communal water source in the center of town.

The bare ground where Marcela sleeps.
Though her life is full of hardships, the one she most wants help with is hunger.  The lunch she gets from Mayan Families is her only steady source of food, and breakfast and dinner are luxuries she often can't afford.

Marcela's life could be made a lot more comfortable with a few simple changes.  A single bed and mattress to get her off of the floor would cost just $75.  A contribution towards her asthma medicine would make the simple act of breathing easier.  And a little bit of help, especially monthly help, to buy some staple foods would help make sure that she doesn't pass the entire time between lunches without eating.  If you would like to make a contribution to help Marcela, you can do so at Donate Now.  Enter your donation in the "Other" box, and enter "A36" in the details (The 'A' stands for 'anciano', or elderly person).  Thank you!