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

Jan 31, 2012

Ramon Lopez Cumes (A-9)

Hi, everyone. Ronnie here with a guest (volunteer) post. I've been here at Mayan Families (MF) for just over a week, and as usual there has been a lot to do. As some of you might recall, I volunteered here with the Elderly Care Program (ECP) for a few months in late 2010, and (just like most anyone else who visits) I fell in love with the ancianos and the ECP. I don't think anyone was surprised to see me back.

MF staff have been up to their necks in work, so one thing I thought I'd help out with is profiling the ancianos, which frankly is always a treat. It's worth mentioning that the entire ECP is hardly scraping by with enough money to provide the ancianos with their daily meals-- The medical supplies and services that we used to provide to the elderly, to everyone's chagrin, have all but stopped due to lack of funds. We even had to let go of our medical coordinator, Dona Helen, because we couldn't pay her salary. It has been very hard telling the elderly that we can't give them their medicines or take them to the doctor.

But that's not what I wanted to focus on. I'm here to introduce you to the beloved ancianos in our program who do not have the medicine or medical attention to deal with serious illness and debilitating pain. I know that sounds intimidating, but $10 goes an incredibly long way in a place like Guatemala.

Ramon talking with Elisia of Mayan Families.
This is the main doorstep he sits at in
Panajachel, earning up to $1.10 daily.
First in line is don Ramon Lopez Cumes. Although I've already had the pleasure of chatting and laughing with Ramon over lunch the past week, I had a translator present with me for the more thorough interview because Ramon's primary language is Kaqchiquel.

Ramon is (well, according to his account--but not everyone really keeps track) 92 years old. He lives in Santa Catarina and, despite the leg pain that forced him into retirement from agriculture work, he walks miles and miles every day to Panajachel and back in order to beg for money--about 8-9 quetzales ($1.10) daily--to feed and care for his bedridden wife, Rosa. Rosa is 87 years old. Ramon told us that he and Rosa have been married for 80 years, and while the numbers are a little suspect, it has clearly been (or at least seems to have been) a very long time.

Together Ramos and Rosa have four daughters, all married, and four grandchildren, all residing in Santa Catarina. The family is close and visits at least weekly, but unfortunately they can hardly help out the grandparents. Only one of the sons-in-law has a (more or less) stable job, extracting and selling sand from the lake, but that is a very low-paying job. They daughters earn what they can with odd jobs, but it's not even enough for the kids. Once in a while the family brings Ramon and Rosa breakfast, but he still needs to go beg.

Ramon (right) hungrily enjoying with his friend Ramos (left)
the lunch provided to him by the Mayan Families. Ramon
packs up a lot of the ECP food and brings it to his
bedridden wife in Santa Catarina.
Ramon is the first in line in my profiling because, aside from the severe pain in his legs, he has told us of frequent and acute heart pains and palpitations that started recently. We're not just very worried for Ramon, but also for Rosa, who cannot get by without the little money that Ramon earns and the ECP food he saves in his little satchel and brings to her daily.

We believe that Ramon urgently needs medical attention. A doctor's visit and the proper heart and pain medicine would make a huge difference for his and Rosa's security and comfort. An initial consultation would cost just $10, and we estimate that medicine for the first two months would cost just $30. Please consider helping.

To make a contribution, click here and enter "A-9 Anciano Ramon Lopez Cumes" in the Other section. If we get the funds to pay for Ramon's medical consultation, we will of course keep you posted. Thank you so much for your time, and please stay tuned for more profiles.

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