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

Dec 12, 2012

Nieves Garcia Simion

(A-63) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: food, water filter replacement filters, Onil stove, pila repairs
UPDATE Dec 21, 2012: Nieves received the gift of a blanket!
                 Jan 2, 2012:   Nieves received a bed & mattress!
To provide any of these needs, click here. To sponsor Nieves at $35 a month, click here.
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.  

Nieves had seven children.
Like her parents before her, she grew up poor, then married poor and so gave birth to poor children.
They'd walk for days to the coast each harvest to pick coffee beans for a couple Quetzals-- about 40 US cents-- a day.
One season the wind blew a sickness through the highlands like it spreads the dead hairs of a dandelion throughout grassland, coating all the green growth in yellow.
One of Nieve's children breathed it in. It made her belly hot and then amassed in her limbs, finally collecting in her head, and she died soon after.
Nieves had six children.
Soon after the first daughter died the wind turned again, enveloping another little girl who followed her sister.
And then another died, and another, and another.
Nieves had two children.
The family moved to a smaller house with a dirt floor and a straw roof, where maybe they'd escape the wind.
But it found its way through the cracks in the walls and the shaky leaves of the ceiling. It kicked up the dust of the floor and settled in the blankets, where another child breathed the illness that was in it, and died.
Mija, mija-- Nieves says to the grown woman standing in the corner-- my daughter, my daughter. The one standing there is the only one who stayed.

She says that the world is more or less the same as in those days. No one gets sick like that anymore, but we are still poor. Whether there was war or whether there was peace she hardly noticed the difference.
There was nothing to eat, hardly a crumb.
Nieves climbs up and down a hillside to eat at the Program each day. Her one remaining daughter and her son-in-law live with her in the house. Neither work lately, since there's none to be found for a builder, and since the daughter never had. They own the house, at least, and do not have to pay for its amenities. There is little more than a malfunctioning plancha-- a griddle-- a broken pila-- a concrete sink-- a 6 yr old water filter, a small table and several plastic chairs in the house. Nieves sleeps on a petate, a straw mat, on the floor. Despite this, the interior of the house is brightly painted and lets in a lot of sun, so that the mood of the house is unequal to the dirt and emptiness.
She hasn't got much of an appetite these days, says the son-in-law. She'll eat one tortilla a day. Her stomach and her head were giving her trouble, so we took her to the doctor. We were supposed to take her back but we couldn't pay. A few weeks ago her eyes started leaking water.
Nieves says she can't talk much: one, she's nervous, and two, she only has one tooth and is tired of trying to speak.

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