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

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 González 

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!

A letter from Rosita A-1's sponsor

Last week, we posted a story about A-1 Rosita and the help that she has been receiving. This is a note written from her sponsor. Thank you so much for providing a way for Rosita to hear the music she loves, in addition to provision of her basic needs!
"I have to tell you [Rosita's story] brought tears to my eyes, also. When I have asked you in the past what Rosita needed, I have thought about a radio, but I never mentioned it.
God definitely had a hand in the pairing of Rosita and myself. 
I started to sponsor her in memory of my Dad who passed away. He was a multi-talented musician and played in a band for many years. He played his mandolin in his hospice bed only a few days before he died.
I also am a singer, not so much opera, but play a few instruments,  and write music mostly in the gospel genre.
To hear that Rosita always wanted to be a singer warms my heart so. Music is one of God's blessings that can be such a healer for the heart and soul. 
I also love Pavorotti and Bocelli. I want Rosita to experience this wonderful music which hopefully can bring her some peace while she is homebound.
...Please pass on some of the above on to Rosita. Tell her that I send this gift to her with much love, in Honor of our God, Rosita and my Dad. I hope she can enjoy this music until she takes her last breath, and goes home to the final opera in Heaven, which will be forever."

May 24, 2013

Paula Sahon & Tereso Ajocon

(A-2, A-23) Status: Not Sponsored
(A-2 Tereso) Needs: meal sponsorship, room to rent, Ensure, medicines for nervous attacks and pain
(A-23 Paula) Needs: meal sponsorship, running water. room to rent, food assistance
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-2, or A-23 [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
To sponsor one for meals at $35 a month, or both at $70 a month, visit: http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx

They've been separated now by 50 years, but circumstance has brought them--unwillingly--together again.

Paula was Tereso's first wife. For most of her life, She's been living with her daughter and two grandkids, but when the father left them for another woman, the daughter became very depressed. Faced with the responsibility of caring for both her mother and children by herself, she has become increasingly unstable. She works small jobs here and there, and never has enough to feed both her children and her mother. They live in a house without potable water, do not have a bathroom or anywhere to wash themselves, dishes or clothes.

Paula says that her daughter blames her, and this is why she hits her.

To help the anciana, Paula's daughter-in-law took her in. This is the house where Paula's estranged husband lives; the daughter-in-law took him in too after his own kids abandoned him. She is caring for the parents of her ex-husband, who left her for her sister, in addition to her five adolescent children. She makes $8 a week washing clothes and dishes. In the house, there are two beds and a small dresser propped up against the end of one to keep the bed from falling; there is hardly space for them all.

Tereso had a stroke five years ago, and now suffers nervous attacks, severe memory loss, loss of mobility in his limbs, muscle cramps and headaches. He can barely speak, walk, or hear. Some medicines and at least a fortified dietary supplement like Ensure, and vitamins help the cramping and general strength.

To make room for them all, the household are weighing their options: the daughter-in-law inherited a piece of land where they might build, though it is situated next to her sister and her ex. They may also add onto their current home to make a room for Tereso and allow Paula to live in the house with the others.  However, the land it is on is rented, and they would have to pay each month in addition to construction costs: then, when Tereso dies and is no longer living there, they would have to turn the room over to the landowner.

Another option is adding a second floor to their current home. Mayan Families construction is looking into this cost and what can be done to make costs as efficient as possible-- this would solve many problems for them.

If you would like to help with the household's food situation, which is a huge burden on the daughter-in-law's small salary, or with meal sponsorship, construction or medicines, please visit the links beneath the photos. Thank you!

one room of the small house, where Tereso currently sleeps

May 23, 2013

Margarita Can Cosme & Ricardo González

(A-21, A-22) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: Eye care, electricity, water filter
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-21, or A-22 [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
To sponsor one for meals at $35 a month, or both at $70 a month, visit: http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx
To watch a video which features Margarita and Ricardo, click here

"It was a broken bottle to my face, that I lost my eyes," Margarita feels her way around the foyer to her home. She chats amiably about things that would leave others devastated. "One must leave it to God, who takes care of it."

Ricardo, her spouse, putters around the area making lunch with bad eyes too. Theirs is a life based on faith, putting their hands out into the empty air for help. Ricardo's problem is more recent, within the past couple of months-- "he had some drops, but not anymore." Margarita speaks for the two of them.

While she tells us of their children-- one who lives with them and helps with the expenses of the house, two other sons without wives and a married daughter-- Ricardo finishes preparing his lunch. There are flies everywhere, the dishes he's using are dirty. He brings the food to just outside the foyer and sits on some cardboard boxes. Margarita tells us he goes everyday bring a stack of wood for their stove-- it is clear from the curve of his spine that he's been doing this all his life.

Her tone is impressively optimistic as she tells us, "some time ago, we had our stove stolen, so my son spent all his money on another. We never had mattresses before, then Mayan Families got us three. I spent my life doing other people's laundry, till I lost my eyes." When they were interviewed for the video made a couple of years ago, they had been scavenging the trash for food.

But Margarita insists that "things are good lately." They could use basic necessities like a water filter and electricity, and especially sponsorship to receive their meals each day, as without this food they would be eating "just herbs and vegetables," or whatever they might find in the mountains or the trash.

This Sunday, Mayan Families will be hosting an optometrist/ophthalmologist medical group, and we plan to send Ricardo to have his eyes checked, as they are probably infected. If you would like to sponsor or donate one-time to this couple, please follow the links at the top of the page. Thank you!

May 22, 2013

Rosa Citalan

(A-1) Status: Sponsored for meals, medicines, home expenses, Mayan Families holiday baskets
Needs: Medical exam to discover the reason behind her tachycardia and cardiac arrest.
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow  "A-1 [write needs]"
A link to a previous story about Rosita can be found here
Read a note from Rosita's sponsor 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: August 26, 2013
Rosa became very ill last week and was transported to the local hospital where she was diagnosed with pneumonia and tachycardia. While at the hospital, Rosa had a cardiac arrest but was able to be revived. She is in need of further medical exams $50.00 (US) at a hospital in Guatemala City to discover the source of the problem and come up with a treatment plan. In the meantime, Rosa has been prescribed Ensure milk to keep her nourished.

UPDATE: We are so sorry to share that on September 1, 2013 Rosa passed away.


Rosa speaks as if each breath she takes will run out before the story's finished, gasping like a fish out of water. Her stories span her whole life in that breath, recalling her childhood and offering its later-learned lessons: hay que hablar de lo que es cierto y no es cierto--one must talk about what is true and what is not true.

"I used to walk," she says, "all the way up to Solola just to talk to people. My mother called me a little horse, always running. She also used to call me a monkey, because I love fruit. She said I'd grow a tail. But, I also don't have teeth anymore, so I eat fruit because I can't eat much else. And these days me arden las patas: my paws burn. I don't go out much anymore."

Her daughter and granddaughter nod through the stories they've heard before, letting Rosita gasp through her life and the proverb she wants them to know: "times have changed, there used to be respect-- we waited for the day of the Lord."

Rosita expresses her love of opera and the symphony, explains that she sang opera, "How I used to sing! But--" she gasps a few times-- "I can't sing a note anymore. I met an American once, at the conservatory in the city, where my mother took me to see the opera. I sang for him, and he told me my throat, my throat was magnificent. He said he would get me into a school in the US to sing, but my mother started to cry. She didn't want me to leave my home."

Her favorite, she said, was Pavarotti, and she can't stand traditional Guatemalan marimba music. I remembered that I had Bocelli on my iPod and asked if she wanted to listen-- she has no radio nor another way to listen to music. I put the headphones in her ears and the man began to sing-- and Rosita began to weep, which made all the rest of us cry.

Many of the elderly we visit are incredibly lonely and have very little to make their lives easier-- many cry out of the frustration of having no one to speak to, having no one to help them-- that when we visit and offer a hand the moment is overwhelming. Rosita, while she has a caring daughter and granddaughter and a generous sponsorship that gave the women a sturdy home, guarantees Rosita's meals, and helped with medical emergencies and many other necessities, she is still lonely for this connection to the things she loves: music, chatting with people in the market, otherwise running around.

When asked what she wanted or needed, she said, "a coffee thermos, I have nothing to keep it hot. And a way to listen to Pavarotti." For Mother's Day, her sponsor gave her a thermos. These are atypical requests, as usually people are in need of food, medicine or other very basic things-- but Rosita says "she is so well taken care-of" in the past couple of years with her sponsorship that all she is missing is music and company.

Rosita is an exception in our program, lucky to be the beneficiary of a reliable donor. If you would like to sponsor an elderly person even just for their meals once a day at $35 a month, please visit http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx  and put "A-## [needs, sponsorship etc.]" in the Notes section. Thank you so much for your support!

May 21, 2013

Petrona Pablo

(A-88) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: Medical attention at $120, meal sponsorship, caretaker
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-88 [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
To sponsor her for meals at $35 a month, visit: http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx
UPDATE May 24, 2013: Petrona received one month of food!
UPDATE May 27, 2013: Petrona's medicines and appointments cost $115 US. If you can help her with this huge cost, it will be so helpful!
UPDATE June 17, 2013: Petrona received a mattress, help with gas for her stove and $115 for her medical needs! 
UPDATE August 13, 2013: Petrona received a water filter and table for the filter as well as sponsorship for two months of food! Thank you so much!
UPDATE September 12, 2013: Petrona has a problem with nerves in her neck which cause her pain. We are looking for $120 US for her doctors appointments and injections to help with her neck.

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

We knock on Petrona's door loudly and call her name several times before she comes to the door, opens it, then falls into my arms weeping. "The pain, the pain!" Her muscles are so cramped that even walking to the door is too much.  "I can't leave, I'm so afraid of falling."

She's the only one home; her kids-- one son drinks, the other works early and late, the other leaves food once in a while but "comes tired from work, she can't care for me. They are all so far from me--" do not have the means to help their aging mother.

She used to walk to the Mayan Families office to receive her meals, but for the last month and a half, her muscle cramps have been so bad that she cannot get out of bed. She has lost a lot of weight, and cannot cook for herself. She has had no gas for her stove for over a week, and has no water filter, so drinks the dirty water from the tap even without boiling it. Her bed does not offer much comfort, as a thin piece of sponge sits over the wooden boards.

Until recently, she also washed dishes for $0.60 US a day "when there were people."

Yesterday, she tried to walk from her home to Mayan Families to eat, since she didn't want to be at home anymore by herself. She didn't make it-- she had trouble walking the few short blocks, got very dizzy, and had to be taken to a clinic.

She was given an injection to calm her nerves and tendons, whose tension was causing the painful cramps. She was prescribed pills for pain and tension. She had another follow-up appointment today and will again tomorrow to see what kind of medicines they can give long-term. Each consult costs her $10, and with the medicines she has already incurred almost $80. She does not have the money to cover these costs. If you can help Petrona with medical costs, sponsorship or any of the needs stated above, please visit the links under the photo.

Thank you so much for your support!

May 20, 2013

Fidela Pinzon

(A-82) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: sponsorship for meals, diapers, insulin, medicine for high blood pressure, vitamins
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-## [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
To sponsor her for meals at $35 a month, visit: http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx
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.

A girl who is wiping dishes answers Fidela's door and leads us through an empty hall to Fidela's room, where we are greeted first by the smell and then Fidela. She tears up, says she is happy someone came to see her. "I want to walk, but I can't," she shakes her head, "I want to eat but I can't." She yells for the girl-- Angela! Bring me a chair?-- and waits for a response, then yells again. Silence. "She must have gone. I need to get out, but who is there to help me?"

Angela comes a few times a week to clean. Fildela had 10 children; one comes to visit when she can, bringing her mother diapers or other small necessities.

"I can't do anything for myself. I want to get up, I get up, I fall down. What can I do?"

She's seen a doctor for her sight, her high blood pressure, her bed sores and other pains, and her diabetes. She also has a wheelchair, but this, the meds and diagnoses "don't do much if there's no one here to help me with them."

We are sitting a foot away from here, and our faces are like ghosts, she says. Everyone looks like a ghost. "I sit here sola sola sola-- alone alone alone. I'm afraid of going blind."

Mayan Families brings her food each day, and when there are funds, diapers or medicines. While her daughter helps with the expenses of the house, Fidela needs more regular care from someone like Angela or someone else to help bathe, clothe and feed her.

However, providing regular sponsorship for necessary meals, diapers, and medicines would help out Felipa immensely. It costs her daughter $62 a month for diapers and medicines. This is an additional cost to the $35 for her meal sponsorship. This amount of money is huge to families making $3-$5 a day, and more often the family will ignore illness if they can't afford its treatment. If there is any way you or someone you know can help with these costs, please visit the links at the top of the page, or email familyaid@mayanfamilies.org with questions.

Thank you so much!

May 15, 2013

Miguel, Manuel and Maximiliana Matzar

(A-24 Miguel) Status: Sponsored for meals, saline solution, diapers, Ensure
(A-25 Manuel) Status: Sponsored for meals
(A-26 Maximiliana) Status: Sponsored for meals, Sponsored for insulin
Needs: regular sponsorship of catheter adjustment (A-25), medical sponsorship for all three, stipend for Iris to care for them full-time, blankets
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-## [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
A link to previous stories about the three siblings can be found 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 May 24, 2013: Miguel received a new mattress!
UPDATE May 24, 2013: Because Miguel A-24 is totally bedridden, must eat in bed and often soils the mattress, Dona Iris found a nest of baby rats in the bed yesterday. In addition to this being a completely unacceptable place to sleep, a Guatemalan myth exists that rats could be an omen of death. Dona Iris is doubly concerned, since Miguel is not eating or responding, that he will die soon. Mayan Families is providing a temporary foam mattress for him, but a new mattress would be hugely appreciated. He needs a single mattress, which is just $44 US.
UPDATE May 23, 2013: Manuel (A-25) was taken to the doctor and told Iris that it is incredibly dangerous to wait so long to have his catheter adjusted. He had an infection, and was given medicines for this; Iris explained that she must wait for money to arrive before she can make the journey to Xela with him, but the doctor said that waiting could cause need to have another more serious operation, which cost the family over $1,300 last time. We received funds for the next adjustment two months from now, and covered the cost of some medicines. However, to prevent the wait for funds next time, we would like to have Manuel sponsored for these medical visits. It would cost about $384 a year to send Manuel for these catheter readjustments. 

UPDATE September 12, 2013: This week Manuel (A-25) went for his catheter readjustment and there were some unforeseen transportation and medicine costs. Manuel is in need of $50 to cover these costs. We are also still looking for medical sponsorship ($96 every 3 months/$384 a year) to cover these catheter readjustments costs.

UPDATE: October 17, 2013: Yesterday Maximiliana's sugar became very low and she had to be taken to the hospital where she began to slip into a diabetic coma. The doctor was able to give her some medicine to stabilize her and fortunately she was able to leave the hospital and is back in her home today.


"I have abandoned my own children, because their children abandoned them, and they have no one else," says Iris, who is the full-time caretaker of her two uncles and mother. Last month, Iris had gotten sick and was bedridden for days. "There was no one. When I recovered, Miguel's bed was completely soiled, they'd barely eaten, they needed to be washed. Someone from the Assembly of God had come by to check on them, to help them."

In the yard, several small houses comprise the area where Iris and her family live. Miguel and Manuel sleep in the room where we talk, which is just big enough for two twin beds. The ceiling is covered in cardboard, to keep out the rain.

Iris's husband still lives with her in the house, along with their six young children, but "it's like he's not even there." He has a drinking problem and does nothing for the family. Iris's siblings have their priorities, and left her the responsibility for caring for the three. She taught herself how to be a nurse, how to care for her diabetic aunt and disabled uncles. "The doctor told me, when Miguel had his accident, that 'he was going to die.' 'He is going to die' is not the way to answer someone who is fighting for him."

"Miguel isn't eating well these days, his back hurts from being in the bed. A woman comes to help me bathe him, to get him in and out of the wheelchair. He can't take pills, can't eat solid food. We have to make it into liquid for him. He has a hernia, and some kind of lung infection. When he breathes, he sucks and sucks."

The three need constant medical attention: in addition to Miguel's deterioration, Maximiliana is still recovering from a stroke she suffered more than a year ago, and is in need of insulin to control her diabetes. Manuel must go every one or two months to have an adjustment made to his catheter. When asked what they need most, Iris is quick to describe the costs of their medical care. "It costs me to get to the doctor, every time the apparatus is adjusted, to come back from the doctor. It costs to have insulin, to have a saline solution for Miguel, to have Ensure or another kind of liquid protein. These are things without cures. These are things without an end. The need is constant."

Fortunately, to help Iris, a volunteer working with Mayan Families is assisting in caring for Miguel, Manuel and Maximiliana. A couple of days per week she bathes them, feeds them, and passes the time with them. Three generous sponsors have also made it possible that the three will get meals each day from Mayan Families, and thankfully receive much-needed medical support.

However, because the problems are merely balanced and not solved, Iris still must seek help when emergencies-- or even routine medical procedures-- arise. Manuel is due for another catheter adjustment, this Friday, May 17, which costs Iris $67 for transportation, the procedure and the meds. Maximiliana is covered for meals, but not necessarily her insulin. Miguel is always in need of diapers, towels, and blankets.

"I try to give them what they need," Iris says, "but I look at my own kids, and what I'm unable to do for them. Will they do the same for me?"

May 14, 2013

Santiago Bocel

(A-75) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: Meal sponsorship, food, disposable diapers, wheelchair or walker, water filter, sheets, blankets, closet, roof repairs, Ensure or other fortified supplement
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-75 [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
To sponsor him for meals at $35 a month, visit: http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx
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

"They are like children now," Santiago's granddaughter says over and over as she explains how she cares for her grandfather. "It's been about a year since he fell, since the doctor told him that he'd die soon and that it'd be better to leave him in bed. He can't walk now, obviously, and his feet have some kind of infection-- swollen, parched feet-- ah, mira, see how he suffers. He can't do anything for himself. I come back from washing clothes all day-- he doesn't eat unless I'm around, to leave the dish on the bed for him-- I come back and have to change the diaper, change the bedding. They are like children now."

Santiago's wife also lives in the tiny house with his granddaughter and her four children, but "they don't get along." She sells a little in the market during the week, but complains that her husband never had a cent to give her a good life, never gave her anything. "She's a bit capricious, always giving her heart to strangers," said the granddaughter. "More than anything we want to make sure he's comfortable, if he's going to die. We'd taken him to the hospital, but since they said they can't do anything for him, what else can we do?" Even though her husband works as a security guard, a relatively good job, "even his income can't cover it all for us." Her grandfather needs medicines, "for pain, gastritis, a lung infection, and vitamins for strength."

"I had to leave my full-time job so I could care for my grandfather and the kids both. I look at my own family and hope we have it better than they did. I look at them both and think to myself, "what did they do to get like this? How can it be different for me?"

Ancianas receive Mother's Day gifts!

All of our Ancianos in the Program received bags of food for Mother's Day.

They were so thrilled to have these necessary supplies given to them by generous donors!

Socorro Guit (A-94) smiles with her gift.

May 10, 2013

Isabela Rangel

(A-27) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: Medicine, meal sponsorship
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-27 [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
To sponsor her for meals at $35 a month, visit: http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx
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

"Two of my children don't talk to me. The other two aren't in a place to help much." She's been living alone 40 years since her husband passed away. She feels depressed, having no one really to talk to, but "not alone. Everyone has an angel." She offsets her medical costs-- for high blood pressure, gastritis, nausea, a heart enlargement, back pain and pain in general-- washing clothes for the Health Center for about $25 a month. She's been washing clothes, it seems, forever, except for when she got sick with pneumonia two years ago. "I really can't stand the pain," she says, "I have to have the medicines."

Maria Germana

(A-11) Status: Sponsored for medicine
Needs: Meal sponsorship, water filter
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-11 [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
To sponsor her for meals at $35 a month, visit: http://mayanfamilies.org/DonateMonthly.aspx
A previous story about Maria and her blind son, Victor, can be found 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

"Some 30 years ago, he woke up dead in a field," Maria talks of her late spouse, "he'd drunk himself to death. He'd had a good job working construction, even made friends with his American boss, who promised him a piece of land. They searched and searched. We were so happy when they found something we could afford. But the American made the deed in my daughter's name, not mine, and when my husband died it went to her. So. I have nothing. I have this bed from Mayan Families, the closet from someone else, and between the two a little space to walk. There's no real room to put anything else. I've suffered a lot, but asi es la vida, como una sufre." 
This is life. How one suffers.
She had seven children, and lives in her son's house with his wife and three daughters. Three women share a small bed. The others have all but abandoned their mother. Those living on the other piece of land manage a small store selling second-hand clothing from the US, caring for their own large families.
She takes medicine for high blood pressure and she feels the onset of arthritis. But what does one do? She says, only God knows.

Lucia Chumil

(A-19) Status: Not Sponsored
Needs: Meal sponsorship, water filter
To help: www.mayanfamilies.org/donatenow "A-19 [write needs, sponsorship etc.]"
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

"Here look at me," Lucia stands up from her chair and bends over, putting her hand out for an invisible cane. "Look at me, my back, I'm all bent over."
More than this, she says, she can't see, her feet hurt, she's sure she has gastritis and her bones ache and ache. She gestures at the sky when talking about her pills, "no relief! No relief!" Or her few possessions, "I have nothing, nothing, nothing." 
She gets her water from the tap and if it wasn't for the food she gets from Mayan Families, she'd eat "one, two tortillas a day. I worked all day everyday making them, 10 years ago, hundreds everyday. But my hands don't do that anymore."
She lives with her granddaughter and her husband, who plan to move soon to a house at the river. Lucia doesn't want to go. "They don't have any light! What am I supposed to do in the dark?" Though she has her own piece of land there too. "I feel bad because they let me stay here with them, but I don't want to move in to the new house. There's no one else to care for me, so what choice do I have? The rest of my days, alone in the dark."