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 19, 2013

New Blog posts are now located on our web site!

Hi everyone,
We have switched all of our Blogs over to our Mayan Families New Web Site. Please visit this link from now on to enjoy or new Blog posts!

Oct 17, 2013

Sad News About Our Dear Anciano Santiago (A-75)

This morning we were notified that one of our dear ancianos, Santiago (A-75) was not well. We sent our doctor to his house and Santiago’s lungs were full of liquid. Dr. Louis tried to give Santiago some medicine but he was not able to swallow the medicine well.  Thirty minutes ago a member of Santiago’s family came running to Mayan Families because they were concerned that Santiago was no longer breathing. I accompanied a doctor to the house to check on Santiago, and unfortunately Santiago was no longer breathing and had passed away in his bed just a few minutes prior. Santiago’s wife began to sob as the other family members began to heat up water in order to bathe Santiago one last time. Not only is the family devastated about losing their dear Santiago, but they are also concerned because they do not have enough money for corn to eat, much less enough money to cover the costs of a casket and burial. Santiago had no children and his wife only makes a small amount of money selling vegetables in the market. We are looking for a donation of $250 to help out Santiago’s family so that they can buy him a casket and cover the expenses of giving him a proper burial. 

If you would like to help out with the cost of Santiago's casket and burial please click here and under General donations, please enter "A-75" and "A-75 casket and burial" in the Notes section.

Sep 12, 2013

More Good News!

Ramos (A-8) was able to visit an ophthalmologist & get medicine thanks to a donation to his medical needs!

Petrona (A-88) received a water filter & table!

Felipa (A-38) received a food basket , firewood, pillow, comforter, corn, medical care & medicine!!

Thank you so much to our wonderful sponsors & donors!!!

Jun 26, 2013

Ancianos video!

Filmmaker Nisa East and I interviewed a few of our Ancianos for their stories. Featured in the video are sponsored ancianos Celestina Simion, Gregoria Perez, and Ramos Cumes, as well as unsponsored anciana Cecila Bocel.

Mayan Families - Ancianos Stories from Nisa East on Vimeo.

(To see the video bigger and better, click here.) 

If you would like to sponsor an anciano to eat 5 days a week, or donate one time to any of their needs, click here. Write the A-# and [need] in the Other box.

See more of Nisa's work, as well as my stories and photos from other talented artists that have come through Mayan Families by purchasing a book compiled of our elderly participants. All profits go to the Elderly! You can preview and purchase the book here

Thank you!

Jun 21, 2013

Good news!

Celestina A-53 gets her door repaired!

Pedro A-6 is now sponsored for meals, medicine AND rent for his home!

Alberta A-49 receives blankets and sheets for her bed.

Miguel A-24 receives a pad to make his bedridden life more comfortable, and much needed medicines.

Socrorro A-94, Petrona A-88, Felipa A-38 and Miguel A-25 receive medical attention.

 Josefa A-18 receives diapers, Ramos A-8 receives new clothes, and Tereso A-2 receives Ensure.

Thank you so much!

Jun 20, 2013

Adrian Motta

(A-79) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: materials to construct a room, water filter, meal sponsorship, Ensure
To provide meal sponsorship or Ensure for Adrian at $35 each a month, click here.
Read previous stories about Adrian 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.  

UPDATE September 16, 2013:  Adrian's daughter was able to purchase a lot of land in a nearby town of San Andres so she will be moving soon. They would like to move Adrian with them to San Andres, otherwise he will be left alone with no one to care for him.Unfortunately, they do not have enough money to construct an additional room for him on their new land. The cost for materials and building of this room is around $770. If Adrian is able to move to San Andres with his daughter he will be too far away to commute daily to receive his meal from Mayan Families as the trip is too far and too expensive. However his daughter would be able to provide him some food and we would like to provide him with a monthly donation of Ensure.

"Thank god he isn't sick right now, thank god," says Adrian's daughter. She lives with her father, son, sister and brother-in-law in the same complex. "When we asked Mayan Families for help some years ago, he was so thin. So thin. Really malnourished. So they entered him in the program and now at least he's getting a meal once a day. They got him taking Ensure and he started putting on weight. Even so he loses it all really fast-- he just doesn't want to eat a lot of the time."

Adrian had been living elsewhere, sleeping and spending most of his day on an old door, without so much as a few blankets to soften it. Thanks to donations he now has a bed and mattress, and is now living with his family. He doesn't hear well nor speak much these days, and his daughter walks to the office to get his food each day. 

"I wash clothes for a living, but it's hardly enough. My son works waiting tables. My brother-in-law is diabetic and walks around on crutches because of the pain in his legs. I was, am so sad sometimes for my Papa. He just can't do anything for himself anymore. He was so thin. But thank god he isn't sick, there are no medicines to buy."

Juana Cumes

(A-90) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: $35 meal sponsorship, $25 rent assistance, water filter, bathroom
To provide sponsorship for Juana, click here.
To donate one-time to her needs, click here.

We meet Juana and her daughter outside the small juice stand on the street, where another daughter makes her living. They lead us to a tiny room, hot as an oven, piled with storage boxes and a small bed. A grill that serves as Juana's kitchen is on the floor with a single orange perched over the coals. There is not enough room for three of us to stand, and so Juana sits on the bed while we speak with her daughter outside.

"Two years ago, she was walking around this corner and a motorcycle hit her. Nearly cut her leg in two. She's not been in very good health since then. My father left me, my mother and my two sisters when I was a kid. We never got to go to school. I wash clothes for a living, my sister has her juice. The other was lucky enough to get a husband who is a day-laborer, but even that's not a steady job.

I think the worst part is that my mother doesn't own this little room or the bathroom that's just a sink on the ground. She has to pay the rent. She drinks a little atol (a hot corn drink) in the mornings but other than the lunch at Mayan Families she doesn't get much to eat."

Juana is smiling anyway, and brings a tissue to her nose every few seconds to combat her cold. Her daughter says, "my sister's diabetic, mom has high blood pressure. But where do we get the money to treat these things?"

If you would like to provide Juana with any of her needs, please visit the links at the top of the page. Questions may be directed at familyaid@mayanfamilies.org

Juana Santos

(A-17) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: water filter, meal sponsorship, diabetes medicines
To help, click here. To sponsor Maria for $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.  

In the two beds that fill the small room, seven sleep. Juana lives with her daughter and son-in-law, five children and baby. The two eldest boys, who make eight in the family, work driving taxi to support the rest. Juana's son-in-law works in construction, but this is not fixed work. There are often days he does not work.

Juana's daughter was a well-respected healer in the community until several years ago an accident impaired her walking. She doesn't have the strength to climb mountains or go long distances any longer. Because she worked with the poorest of the poor, she never used her gift for income. Rather, people would pay her with food or handmade goods.

About a year ago, Juana was diagnosed diabetic, and comes to Mayan Families diabetes club when there are resources like insulin and education available. While Juana receives something like Social Security per month, which she is eligible on account of her deceased spouse, this stipend is not enough to cover all the expenses incurred from all of those in the house.

If you would like to help Juana and her family, please visit the links below the photo. Thank you!

Maria Jacinta

(A-91) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: meal sponsorship, fuel-efficient stove, diabetes and other medical care, bed and mattress
To help, click here. To sponsor Maria for $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

"8 of us share three beds without mattresses. The house is made of wood and tin." Maria's daughter describes the house she shares with her mother, sister, and their children. Maria's husband, the grandfather of the house, "sleeps on the floor, usually passed out drunk and dirty."

Following Maria's stroke three years ago, the sisters take turns giving their mother full-time care. Maria does not talk well, walk, nor use her left arm, despite many therapies. "They charged for each visit, and after a while we just couldn't pay." Her wheelchair, from being pushed around outside in the grass and dirt, does not push well.

The sisters try to make it by washing clothes or making tortillas for a little income. However, because their mother is also diabetic and their small children are in school, they often do not have enough money to pay the $67 in rent and electricity per month, or have food in the house besides what Maria gets from Mayan Families at lunch.

If you would like to help Maria and her family make ends meet, please visit the links at the top of the page, which will direct you to Mayan Families website. Please specify "rent, medicines, food etc." in the Other box. Thank you!

Jun 19, 2013

Maria Margarita

(A-103) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: meal sponsorship, medical assistance, water filter, 2 full mattresses, Onil stove
To help, click here. To sponsor Maria for $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.  

Her husband sells flowers, but since he was diagnosed diabetic a year ago, and since Maria became extremely ill some months ago, the little made from flower sales has failed to keep them healthy.

Maria has been cooking over an open fire all her life; she says this is why she has trouble talking. A few months ago, after going to the doctor for chest pains, she was found to have a serious heart condition and needed open-heart surgery. However, the $1,116 operation, as well as the hundreds of dollars otherwise incurred from medical tests and transportation to the Capital's hospital, was too large a cost for the family.

Instead, she is taking an array of pills to help with her heart.

Her son, who is a builder's assistant, is trying to help his parents with these costs, but his salary barely covers the expenses of his own home.

The house fits two beds without mattresses, shared by the elderly couple and one of their grandchildren. They must carry their water from the community pila, and do not have a place to wash themselves, their dishes or clothing.

If you would like to help Maria with the costs of her medicine, or support her in the meal program, please visit the links provided under the photo. Thank you for your support!

Jun 18, 2013

Felipa Xingo

(A-84) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: Meal sponsorship, medical coverage, water filter, home expense assistance
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-84 [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
To sponsor her for meals at $35 a month, visit: http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx

It is almost comical when Felipa describes her ailments as a chain of unfortunate surprises, then begins listing her medications, then pulls out prescription after prescription after prescription. The small table she sits next to houses bottles and boxes of pills, saliene, syrups, needles and more pills. "There are three things which bother me the most, and the rest is just a result of all of them," she says, "diabetes, chronic asthma, and pain in my joints."

"Just this week, my legs swelled up and I haven't left the bed. I'm taking these pills for the swelling. Yesterday I had a fever. I'm taking these pills for the headaches. I've been diabetic now 6 years. I get insulin injections. Asthmatic for 11 years, after making tortillas in the smoke all my life. I have this inhaler and this medicine for my lungs. And my knees haven't been good for a decade. So I take these pills for the pain.

Three weeks ago they rushed me to the hospital during an asthma attack. There were three of us in an ambulance, but we were going so fast that when we got to the city we crashed into the back of a car. The firemen who came took us to the hospital. They gave me a new inhaler and some saline solution.

A week later, I got a bladder infection, so I was given some antibiotics. But then I got diarrhea and they told me to take Pepto. Where do I get the money for all these prescriptions? I am trying to survive."

She has four children, and lives with one grown son who is in no state of financial security. He fishes when he can for a little income, but had lost his job a couple of months ago after breaking his arm. "I feel about to say goodbye to my children," Felipa says.

"My mother cries a lot out of pain. My brothers and I don't know what to do, none of us can find work these days. We can't leave her alone in the house just in case she gets an attack. Every month we take Mom to the Diabetes Club (at Mayan Families) to get her a check-up and insulin if there's any. She doesn't want to eat anymore because it makes her nauseous."

The little food they have comes from Mayan Families. They share the one meal a day between them.

If you would like to help Felipa with meal or medical support, please visit the links under the photo above. Thank you for your support!

Jun 17, 2013

Ancianos photo book now available for purchase

Finally compiled, a collection of professional photos and stories on some of our elderly in the Mayan Families Feeding Care program! A percentage of all sales go directly to the Ancianos program. Please note this in your order.

You can preview the first few pages and purchase the book through the preview window below. Please share with your friends and family.
An Ebook and PDF form of the book are also available. Any questions can be directed at megan@mayanfamilies.org. Thank you so much!

Some good news!

Thanks to a generous donor and sponsor, the San Jorge Feeding Program has a new water filter to use!

Maria Louisa A-50 is now sponsored!

Maria Angeles A-93 is now sponsored for one year!

Maria Coroxon A-31 is now sponsored for one year!

Felipa Ramos Pocop A-54 now has a mattress!

Petrona A-88 has received medical help, a mattress and her gas paid for this month!

Thank you so much for your kind donations!

May 29, 2013

Ancianos in Need!


Below are just some of our ancianos either in need of sponsorship, medical care, or other necessities.
We had the chance to visit them recently and update their situations, needs and stories.

Please consider sponsorship at just $35 a month, which will provide meals for them 5 days a week, or helping with a one-time donation for some of their medical costs.

Isabela Rangel 
Needs medicine.

Paula Sahon & Tereso Ajocon
Need Ensure, housing, and meals.



Manuel Matzar 

Needs medical sponsorship. 


Margarita Can Cosme & Ricardo Gonz├ílez 

Need meals and a water filter.

Petrona Pablo  

Needs medical care!

Maria Germana and Lucia Chumil need meals!



Miguel Matzar

Needs medical sponsorship. 

Santiago Bocel

Needs diapers, wheelchair or walker, a water filter and more.


Fidela Pinzon

Needs diapers, insulin, and high blood pressure meds.

If you would like to help any of these people with their needs, please visit www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-19 [write needs, sponsorship etc.]" or to start a sponsorship at $35 a month, please visit: http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx

May 28, 2013

Josefa Queche

(A-18) Status: Sponsored for meals, diapers, home necessities
Previous stories about Josefa can be found here.

Josefa is another of our sponsored ancianas, lucky and grateful to have benefited from generous sponsorship the past couple of years. Josefa's sponsor is also largely responsible for giving an education to her grandson, who works in the Family Aid department at Mayan Families. He works full-time and goes to University on the weekends, studying Business Administration. Part of his salary goes to help his family.

Josefa has also been blessed to receive help from her children: three of her six children who have families of their own take turns making her food each day, and care for her as she is unable to walk or bathe herself.

Due to an injury suffered from falling in the middle of the night two years ago, Josefa has been bedridden. She has a wheelchair that her daughter or grandson uses to take her out.

Josefa has her own room now, as her grandson built his own small room apart from the rest of the house so she could have more space.

Like most of our sponsored ancianos, Josefa is lucky to be receiving this help, as she has no recourse to help herself. The stories of those who are benefiting from meal, medical or home expense sponsorship are those of lives that have been changed for the better.

Thank you to all those currently donating to the program or sponsoring this demographic, which desperately needs it!

If you would like to sponsor an elderly person's meals at $35 a month, please visit here. Write "A-## [sponsorship, needs etc.]" in the Other box.

If you would like to make a one-time donation to medical expenses, home needs, or the Feeding Program itself, please visit here. Thank you!