Saturday, March 29, 2008

Easter update

This was a busy week, so I didn't have a chance to post until now! Our Easter dinner with family went wonderfully. Michael cooked leg of lamb, and I made a Moroccan carrot and chickpea tagine (stew), and we served up lots and lots of munchies. Our guests: my parents, my aunt and two uncles, my brother, and his girlfriend, were wonderful company, and they brought beautiful flowers and delicious treats. In honor of them, we donated 10 chicks to the Bucks for Clucks program.
My mother was so kind to bring us some donations to bring down to Guatemala! She gave us a very nice blanket, some dish towels, children's socks, and some other little things.

We can't believe our trip is less than two weeks away!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wow, Easter food, already!

It was late Tuesday night that Patti and I donated the money for the Cumpar family's Easter food. And now, less than two days later, we get photos from Mayan Families of the children receiving the goodies!

Thank you so much, Sharon, the founder of Mayan Families, for allowing us this joy of being able to help others and see the results so quickly!

The children look so happy. I think this was the best email I've ever gotten.

Water filter!

Thank you so much, Tricia, for donating a water filter for the Cumpar family! Tricia sponsors Maritza, Juana and Candelaria's little sister.

Here are pictures of the family receiving this life-saving gift.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Food

I am just amazed at how quickly we can mobilize to help out our sponsored students and their families! This afternoon on the Mayan Families Connection Yahoo Group, people were talking about the possibility of providing an Easter meal for their families. The Easter food consists of fancy Easter bread, drinking chocolate, and sugar.

So, Patti and I coordinated amongst ourselves, and now the Cumpar family will have a special meal for Easter!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Our donation drive has begun!

Our kind friends, Kelly and Letham, donated three adorable stuffed animals yesterday. We will be bringing these little guys down with us to Guatemala next month. The children that Mayan Families helps often have nothing in the way of toys. They will absolutely treasure these gifts.

Thank you again, Kelly and Leth!

To our friends in the New York area, please let us know if you have anything you would like us to bring down! We are collecting gently used toys and household items that will be able to fit in our suitcase.

If you'd like to do some spring cleaning, you can:
  • Help a poor family
  • Reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill
  • And de-clutter your space, all at the same time!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Treasure hunt!

I've started the weekend by looking through our apartment for donations to bring down to Guatemala.

So far, I have found:

  • A stuffed animal that doubles as a small child's backpack
  • A full-sized flannel flat sheet
  • Some earrings
  • Hair clips I never used
  • A lot of hotel soaps

I'm going to keep on digging!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Cumpar family has a new stove!

I was so excited to get an email this evening from Sharon, the head of Mayan Families, with pictures from Guatemala. Michael and I donated money for an Onil stove. And now it has been installed in the Cumpar family's house!

According to the website, it is a "smoke-free, fuel-efficient stove that cuts the wood required by 70% , eliminates indoor pollution and reduces the risk of burns associated with cooking on open fires."

We also got an update from Sharon on the situation of this family.

They sleep in the same room that the stove was installed in. Oto who took the photo said that they were ashamed of the bed so they moved it out of the house. They share the bed, one night half the family sleeps in it and the next night the others use the bed. The alternate nights they sleep on the floor on a straw woven mat. The floor is cement. They do not have tables or chairs. They keep their clothes in a cardboard box. They do not have a pila [outdoor sink]. They do not have a bathroom. They use the next door neighbors' bathroom.

I am now in touch with Patti and Tricia, the sponsors of the other children in the Cumpar family. I'm looking forward to figuring out how we can best help them.

Welcome to the world, Paul!

Our friends, Tanja and Joerg in Germany, just gave birth to their second son, Paul. What a beautiful baby! I'd been eagerly awaiting the news the past few weeks, and yesterday I got a wonderful email from Tanja.

There have been a number of babies born to our friends in the last year:
  • Joanne and Jon's Jonas
  • Susan and Jon's Bryan and Katherine
  • Lex and Erik's Zachary
  • Ivana and Vlada's Sara
To celebrate our blessings, we are donating a baby chick in honor of each baby to Mayan Families' Bucks for Clucks program. Here are photos from last year's campaign. Our best wishes to all the families!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Entry!

At the start of this year, I vowed to make a change to my life. For years, I have wanted to do something to help other people, but I've just never been able to get off my butt and get involved. There were all sorts of excuses - working too much, not knowing how I could get started, planning my wedding, etc. But that's enough. It's time for me to jump in.

Particularly, now that I am married, I have no excuse. I remember how the priest told us at our wedding that one of our responsibilities, now that we have been blessed with each other in marriage, is to be generous.

So here goes! My inspiration is the Cumpar family you see here. I found out about Mayan Families when I was doing research for my husband's and my trip to Guatemala in April. I have been to developing countries before, but I have never done anything to help the people there, aside from spend my tourist dollars.

In the traveler community, there is a lot of debate about what you can actually do to help people in poor countries. "Volunteer" programs are often viewed suspiciously - what do they truly accomplish? Are they just lining the pockets of the stateside organizers and giving the volunteer a feel-good vibe before they continue on their travels?

I started out looking for established volunteer programs, but then wound up looking at grassroots organizations. And then I found Mayan Families. They help the very poor indigenous people who live in the highlands of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala through various projects. Some of these projects are traditional types of help, such as student sponsorships and building homes. Others focus on the environment and health, including providing fuel-efficient stoves that prevent the respiratory diseases that often accompany a lifetime of woodfire cooking. Still more of the initiatives include animal cruelty prevention and pet spaying and neutering clinics, as well as preserving the indigenous culture through traditional dress (many people cannot afford to purchase traditional clothing, and instead wear second-hand Western clothing).

So we got involved. We are now sponsoring two children from the Cumpar family, Candelaria and Juana. We are hoping to get a chance to visit them when we make our trip next month.

I will write more about this in my posts. For now, this is a start to my blog!