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

Oct 29, 2012

The Blind Sisters

Maria and Guatelupe Xalcut Garcia
(A-55, A-61) Status: Sponsored as of Dec 18, 2012!
Needs:  food, maize (corn), home repairs
UPDATE: Dec 7, 2012: Maria and Guatelupe have recieved a large basket of food!
UPDATE: Dec 18, 2012:  They have received 2 new mattresses, 2 beds, 2 pillows & 2 blankets!
Want to help? Please click here.
Links to previous stories about Cayetana and her daughters can be found here

Cayetana, left, and Maria, the eldest

Cayetana died in the bed she’d shared with her daughter the whole duration of the daughter’s life. It had been a gift in the house where the old woman lived with her two blind daughters, one who also cannot speak, nor walk. The other daughter sleeps on some cardboard laid on bedsprings.

Some years ago they’d lost their father after he’d been hit by a car. Then they lost their house in a mudslide, and along with this, their possessions. They are glad to have a place to sleep that is not boards atop the earth, nor the earth itself.

The new house has two rooms whose doors face each other in a corner, where the sun, the only light, comes in. The kitchen is some pieces of tin sheeting around a stove, whose fire is put out each time it rains, when the ground becomes a pool where bowls and bottles float. Behind this, a closet with a tarp for one wall covers a hole meant for using the bathroom.

Above the bed hangs a portrait of Christ, next to a mirror that would be ordinary except for the knowledge that only one of the three women has ever seen her reflection in it. In the corner sits a wheelchair, unused. 

The mother made money sitting in front of a waterfall, begging from tourists who wanted to take her photo. She’d bring back loads of wood to use to cook and her earnings, and in this way the women lived. She became famously photographed. She led the blind to lunch each day. She dressed and washed the one who could not do it for herself.  

The day Cayetana said she could not breathe, and left the lunchroom, she led her daughters home, who pinched her sleeves, following. People came to visit: first the doctor, then others who came to say goodbye. Cayetana complained of pain and of not wanting to die, while one daughter banged two small teddy bears together and the other cried at her side. Sometime later she left her body in the bed and her two blind daughters waiting, for days, for help to remove it.

It was the daughter’s bed too, where the doctor said Cayetana would die of the swelling from her enlarged heart, and where she did die, bleeding through the mattress. The daughters, who did not have another, turned it over.  

What will we do for maiz? says the older sister, what will we do for food? My sister, she says, she can’t go out. She can’t walk. The two sit in the doorway and blink in the sun like those who have been underground awhile must adjust to new light, as if the gesture might allow them to see. They wait for something or someone to happen to them. They wait for a hand to lead them to eat. They wait for a hand to dress them. They wait for time to pass.

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