Guatemala ’ 13
 
village  of  
Santa  Maria  de  jesus
 

This village of 15,000 native Kaqchiquel indigenous people sits high in the mountains near Antigua.  It is comprised primarily of hard-working, Christian families working in agriculture, and living in extreme poverty (less than $1/day/person).  Public water comes into homes, but is only available for 1 hr, two times per week.  Women spend most of their day collecting wood to cook with, then cook meals over an open fire, do laundry by hand at a public facility, repair clothing and maintain the home while taking care of several children and extended family members.  Some women also make handicrafts, or grow vegetables, to sell in the local market.  Many women suffer from respiratory, and eye problems due to working over an open fire inside the home.  Most men who have jobs depart just after sunrise on foot, some walking miles through the mountains to work long days doing strenuous agricultural manual labor, returning home just before dark.  Most children do not have proper shoes, proper nutrition, or access to education due to the high cost of public education. 

 

Children in the village live in homes with dirt floors, cane walls that need to be replaced annually, leaky tin roofs, and often fight malnutrition due to parasites from the soil and non-purified water.

Since Guatemala is a young democracy, and struggles with the powerful influence of narco-trafficking from Columbia to the U.S., corruption, and proper distribution of resources, the government does not provide many of the social programs that developed countries enjoy.  For this reason, churches and NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) attempt to fill this gap by providing these services.


Our mission works directly with a local NGO based in Santa Maria called Fundacion Hunapu.  It is a faith-based organization, comprised of citizens from Santa Maria, and has over 30 years of experience.  Hunapu has an established financial aid and social program to assist the poorest of poor 300 children and families in their community; especially families who want to send their children to school.  Their goal is to serve the poorest of poor in their community, and provide education to as many children as possible, in order to break the cycle of extreme poverty.  They provide humanitarian aid of shoes, school uniforms, school supplies, medicine, housing, and health and social services to families and individuals.  They also provide school uniforms, pay for school registrations, and provide school supplies (all of which are required by law, even for public school students, which is why public education is cost-prohibitive for many families).  In exchange for these services, parents have an agreement with Hunapu:  Children must have good attendance, they must make a faithful effort to study in school, parents must be involved in their children’s education and participate in school events, and families must participate in regular community service.  If they break any of these covenants, or sell or abuse any gifts, they can be dismissed from the program.


This summer we will be offering a 2 hr VBS program in the afternoon in Santa Maria for  150-300 children that will include Bible stories, crafts, music, games, and service components.  Bible school is one of the most requested projects from community leaders, due to the high risk of gang-life for teens in the capital Guatemala City, that families and churches are combating with the Word of God, and the love and hope of Jesus.


Our Stove Crew will be installing Eco-Plancha high-efficiency stoves in children’s homes.  These stoves burn 70% less wood, and reduce smoke by 99%.  This will improve the daily lives of dozens of women and children for many years, especially the women who spend much of their day collecting wood, and who suffer from eye and respiratory problems from smoke from open fires in the kitchen.


Our Humanitarian Aid Crew will have several projects with and for the students and their families.  Depending on our crew’s abilities, possible Humanitarian Aid projects may include:   Distributing shoes, clothes, toiletries, health kits, and school supplies, teaching hygiene and dental care classes, and possibly distributing water filters to families in need.  Potential mission projects at each site may change as needed.


Our Floor Crew will install concrete floors in bedrooms and kitchens of some of the poorest students in the program, to offer a better quality of life, and to prevent parasites like Hookworm, many bacterias, and diseases that are common from living on dirt floors in a country like Guatemala where it rains 5 months per year.


Our Medical Crew will offer some basic healthcare, anti-parasite meds, and vitamins to the students, their families, and the local village, because there is not a local doctor, and basic healthcare is not accessible to most living in extreme poverty.


Our Eyeglass Crew will offer dozens of eye exam screenings, provide allergy and lubricating eye drops, and outfit children and their families with reading, distance, and sunglasses to prevent eye damage from working and living in the sun.


For more mission information, visit the FAQs page.  For photos and more information, please visit the previous blogs and watch our documentary.

SPONSOR A CHILD 
To sponsor a child from Santa Maria, click here.  http://www.giftsprogram.org/index.htmlhttp://www.giftsprogram.org/index.htmlhttp://web.mac.com/shawncsmith/Guatemala_2007/sponsor_a_child.htmlshapeimage_10_link_0shapeimage_10_link_1shapeimage_10_link_2
Be their Facebook Friend: To befriend The Gifts Program, which supports the children of Santa Maria,  send them a request here.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/146695292022752/?fref=tshttps://www.facebook.com/groups/146695292022752/?fref=tshttp://web.mac.com/shawncsmith/Guatemala_2007/sponsor_a_child.htmlshapeimage_11_link_0shapeimage_11_link_1shapeimage_11_link_2