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

Feb 25, 2013

UPDATE: In need of water filters!

March 11, 2013: We have received one water filter for the program, one to go! Thank you so much for your kind donation!


Our Elderly Care program in San Jorge is due for a new water filter. The water filters they are currently using expire after two years. The cooks are dependent on clean, filtered water to cook the meals for the Elderly and Orphans served in the program. 

 Every two years, we have to depend on donations to replace the filters. However, a new water filter is now available which will last for 10 years without a replacement. We would like to provide our Feeding Care programs with these new filters, for $96. New filters for the ones we already have cost $48, which will need replacing after two years. 

Please consider donating toward the two filters we would like for the program, providing clean drinking water for about 40 elderly and 25 orphans who are in the San Jorge program. 

To make a donation, please visit www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow and write "water filter San Jorge Elderly Care" in the Other or Notes box. Thank you!

Feb 15, 2013

Two men abandoned

Two men abandoned by their own families have come into the care of ours. 

Mayan Families and the help of two human rights workers located an elderly man living alone on a steep cliffside. We slid down its path to Pedro's home. There was a pit outside, where he cooks over an open fire, a faucet without a sink, and a wooden pallet where he presumably pees, though it reeked of urine in the house, and there were puddles near the bed. 

There is no electricity in the house nor candles. 

We brought our doctor, who examined him and found nothing seriously wrong with his health, despite his conditions.

Because Pedro could hardly hear, hardly see and spoke none of the three languages in our group, Pedro's neighbor told us, translating Quichee, that a local group had starting providing support for the old man. He now has a daily meal, at least, and a water filter. 

Unfortunately Pedro's story is not unique. 

Two days ago, a woman came to ask for help for a man she knew. He had no family of his own, but had spent the last eight years receiving care from her mother, who would give him food and let him sleep on their floor. Her mother died three years ago, and so her sister took him in-- and promptly threw him out into the street. "She's neurotic, she doesn't know what she's done," said the woman. 

"He was calling me from the street, 'Mari, Mari, help me please, I'm here in the street,' and he'd been there six months. Six months with the drunks, sleeping there. So now he's here with me, in my tiny house, and he doesn't sleep-- he's an insomniac-- he keeps me up at night with his breathing and his cough. And me, I'm an epileptic. I suffer convulsions and shake. I'm afraid of having an episode when he's around...I have two kids of my own, I don't work and my husband-- he doesn't make enough to feed us all. So what can we do? What can we do? This man, he's another mouth to feed."

What can we do? She said again with the surprise of someone who has thought to the end of her options and still comes short of a solution.

Mayan Families Feeding Program is still trying to find sponsors for the ancianos currently in the program, who suffer similar situations. We try to feed about 70 elderly once a day, who are otherwise unable to work and support themselves. These men are only two of a majority of indigenous Guatemalan elderly living in extreme poverty, abandoned by their families and struggling to survive.

 If you would like to support the Elderly Feeding Program, please make a donation to http://www.mayanfamilies.org/DonateNow. Write "Elderly Program" in the Other box. If you would like to sponsor an elderly person in our program, please scroll through the stories on the right-hand side of the page to see who is still in need of sponsorship. You can make a monthly donation here.Write A-# and the name of who you would like to sponsor. Thank you for your support as we try to feed those unable to feed themselves.

Feb 13, 2013

Socorro Guit

(A-97) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: medical care, a home, water filter, food
To help Socorro with these needs, please click here.
To sponsor her to eat in the Feeding Program, 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.

UPDATE March 12, 2013: Socorro received the $200 to have her medical situation amended. She was found to have a blood infection, parasites, and blood pressure. She was treated for all of these and a wound on her leg that had been infected. The doctor was unable to treat the cyst on her palate, as he would have to perform surgery on it, and Socorro did not want to. Thank you so much for helping her to be able to receive treatment!

March 1, 2013: After another visit to Socorro on word that she had fallen and was experiencing severe stomach pain in addition to this, Mayan Families will be taking Socorro to the clinic to get her stitches, evaluate her stomach pain, and have the mass on her palette checked out. We estimate that the consultation, transportation, and procedures will cost up to $200, an unreal amount of money for Socorro and her family. She is afraid to take out a loan, and would rather her ailments go ignored than face being a financial burden for years to come. Despite her protests and unwillingness to visit a qualified doctor in the City, her family is begging her to go.

Please consider donating to Soccoro's medical expenses, and the help she desperately needs. Visit www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow and write A-97 medical in the Other box. Thank you!

She was alone in the house when she suffered a stroke two months ago. After losing much of the use of her hands, she is still alone. She is still alone despite living with two daughters and four of their children, who share one room crowded by the two beds they all share.

She said that she had worked everyday since her husband died half a century ago--not one day she didn't work, she said. But now she can't work. She's sick: she can't work her hands, she can't speak well because of a cyst on her upper palette. She can't work for herself, and there is no one to work for her.

The City is too far to go for her, what the doctors told her to do.

All five of her daughters-- the two widows who live with her and the three married ones who live apart-- got together to take her. It was a great expense for all of them, since they work little and can barely support their children. But she would not go: she didn't have the strength, she said.

The trip would've entailed four reckless rides for more than three hours on chicken buses to get to the hospital, stuffed among hundreds of people, over-capacity. Socorro refused. If she doesn't want to go, her daughter said, what can we do?

Socorro sighs and says her life...is very sad. "My legs are weak, I don't have any strength...it's too bad I didn't have any sons," she said, implying that it's easier for men to make money and thereby care for their mothers as they age.

The five daughters argue over the deed to the small room crammed with firewood. If it turns over to the widows, who live there, they might be able to build a room on top of it. Because when the kids grow up, where are they going to sleep? Says one.

When asked if the Feeding Program has improved her life, she says "I don't have everything. I will never have everything, but at least I have this food." When there was no program, she used to eat just one tortilla with salt a day.