Thursday, December 1, 2011

This family consists of grandparents caring for their five granddaughters after the death of the parents.   They live in Sololá.  The grandparents are in their early 60’s.  The grandmother had been an orphan, too, and is trying very hard to give these children a stable and loving home to grow up in.  Their primary needs are a water filter replacement which is two years past its replacement date and assistance with food.
The Children 
Sandra Elizabeth is 16.  Her student number is 46 and she will be in 3rd grade in 2012.

Luis is 14. He is not living with this family.

Rebeca is 13.   Her student number is 1643 and she will be in 4th grade in 2012.

Juana Abigail, 9, was born December 14, 2001.  Her student number is 169 and she will be in 3rd grade in 2012.

Evelyn, 8, was born November 1, 2004.  Her student number is 918 and she will be in the 1st grade in 2012.

Kenya Melissa is 5.  She has a new sponsor and will start kindergarten in 2012. 

Their Family
Kenya was born five years ago at 3:00 in the afternoon.  The family had dinner at 7:00 and went to bed, everyone seemingly well.  At 11:00 pm the mother woke up to get a drink of water.  She had lost her voice so the midwife was called.  The midwife gave the mother something, though her family does not know what it was or what the problem was.  They decided to bring the mother to the hospital but she died before they could get there.  She was 33.
After the mother’s death, the father became depressed.  He didn’t want to register the newborn baby so the grandparents did and gave her their last name, different from all her siblings.  The father took a job in Guatemala City and returned home every few weeks to visit the children.  He would cry and say the house was empty without his wife there; they had been married for 15 years.  He became ill – the grandmother said he developed diabetes because of his sadness – and had to be hospitalized.  Upon his release he moved to San Pedro to live with his parents, taking Sandra Elizabeth with him to help with the housework.  He soon returned her to his mother-in-law, saying he wanted to die now to be with his wife and he never returned to see the children again.  He died in the summer of 2010.   
At the mother’s funeral, the father’s family took Juana, then six years old, and kept her for four years against the wishes of the mother’s family.  When the father died, the family went to the funeral and they were told they could have Juana back.   She was very thin and sick.  She had not been fed well and had been doing hard manual labor.  The father’s family then took Luis, the only boy, and locked him in a room.  When the grandmother insisted they give him back, the father’s family threatened her and forced them to leave without Luis.
It has been a year since Luis was taken and they have not been able to have any contact with him.  The grandmother sought legal help to get him back but that wasn’t successful.  The father’s family doesn’t want to let him go and they have threatened to kill the grandmother if she continues trying to get him.  She is afraid of the father’s family as many in the family have tattoos and appear to be in a gang.  She is afraid if she is killed then the other five children would have nowhere else to go besides to live with that family.
When her daughter first died, the grandmother’s other children still lived with her but now they have all moved out of the home.  They pulled together to help buy the grandmother a house to live in with the five remaining orphaned grandchildren.  It is a one room house with a kitchen and is located away from her other children, which she prefers since the other grandchildren were picking on their orphaned cousins.   There is a loan to the bank for this house for $4,000 (30,000Q) and they have to pay $66.66 (500Q) per month.  Whenever the grandparents can’t cover the debt, the children chip in to make sure it is paid. 
The grandfather plants corn and makes $6.66 (50Q) a day when he can find work.  If the harvest is sufficient, the family gets corn to eat but for the past two years the harvest has been low and they have had to buy it for themselves which has been a financial burden.  The grandmother used to weave and sell fajas/belts but she had her appendix removed four months ago and the incision still hurts when she bends over in the weaving position.  She never received any follow-up care for the surgery.
Everyone in the family is healthy, except for the pain the grandmother still has at her surgery incision.

Their House
In December 2011, a generous donor gave the girls a double bed with a mattress, along with a second mattress to go on the old double frame.  Now there is room for all the girls to sleep comfortably.  The grandparents sleep together on a bed with a mattress that was given to them by Mayan Families.  They have no blankets. 
They cook over an open fire but the grandmother says it is alright.  They don’t have a pila and their water filter is four years old – it should have been replaced two years ago.  They don’t have electricity but they are able to borrow it from a neighbor for the time being. They do not pay him anything for this.  They also don’t have water connected to the house but the neighbor has a natural spring he lets them use.  They would like to get this water connected to their house. 

The grandmother, Nicolasa, ended the interview thanking me for trying to find help for them.  She said she was an orphan too and never knew what it was to have a family care for you.  She said she is trying her best with the grandchildren to give them a stable family.  She did not have money for a ride back to Sololá so Mayan Families gave them the needed fare.

Their Needs
$44                         Water filter replacement
$50                         Double mattress for older girls’ bed Dec
$170                       Double bed and mattress for younger girls Dec
$25 each              Blankets for everyone – need at least 3
$125/mo              Food
$150 each            Traditional clothes for Sandra and Rebeca
$116 each            Traditional clothes for Juana, Evelyn and Kenya
$190                       Sponsor for Kenya for 2012 Dec
Connect electricity
Connect water
$118                       Pila

How to Donate

  • To use PayPal, click the button below to go to Mayan Families' donation page. Enter the donation amount in the Family Aid field. Enter FA158 for the Family Name. Specify the purpose of the donation in the Extra Notes box.

  • To pay by check, include a note specifying FA158 as the recipient and the purpose of the donation. Mail to:

Mayan Families
PO Box 52
Claremont, NC 28610