I have been volunteering at Mayan Families for the past three months. In the short amount of time with the organization, I've learned a great deal about the language, culture and customs of the indigenous communities. The employees here at Mayan Families take such pride in helping the different communities around Panajachel; their positive vibes and smiles are infectious! Couple that with the powerful energy surrounding the lake and this is quite a unique place.
The week preceding Christmas, I had the wonderful opportunity of helping host a Christmas party six days in a row, in a different villages’ school each day.
Seeing the faces of ecstatic children clutching the only Christmas present they received all year, while posing for a photograph with their family next to Santa Claus and a Christmas tree, was incredibly powerful.
The adults were also very grateful for their gifts. Just by looking at them, you would not be able to tell that many live on a dirt floor and often struggle to pay for a can of beans to cook over an open fire. Some are forced to use string to keep there ear piercings open, because they cannot afford earrings, however they were incredibly cheerful and comported themselves with dignity and respect. Words really can’t do it justice.
Not only does it feed the soul to be helping these people, but I’ve also learned a lot and acquired a much different perspective on life. I would highly recommend donating, volunteering, or just visiting this organization.
I have been to Guatemala twice in the past year, and working with Mayan Families was incredible on so many levels. The dedication of each and everyone of their staff/volunteers is inspiring. The Mayans are a proud and beautiful people, and Mayan Families respects their dignity and works to help them achieve independence through support of educational programs, etc...I plan to return to Guatemala in the near future, and look forward to working again with Mayan Families.
My husband and I just spent a week in Panajachel and had an opportunity to see first-hand the outstanding work that Mayan Families is doing in the surrounding villages. From pre-school to elder care and animal welfare, Mayan Families is making a difference. We were able to visit the village where our sponsored children live, and met with them and their families. It was a pleasure to see the smiling faces of families who received Onil stoves, food, clothing and other supplies. Mayan Families makes things happen! I can't wait to go back again to see the progress being made.
Review from Guidestar
I had the opportunity to work directly with Mayan Families through the KIDS dental mission trip to Guatemala this year. Their staff and volunteers were extremely kind and helpful with the children we treated as well as their parents. Their translation services and cheerful attitudes made our program so much more successful. I am proud to have worked with this organization and would highly recommend them.
I have been on several non-profit boards and I have never seen such a dedicated and hard working group. I saw many mothers and children who have been given hope because of Mayan Families.
I had the pleasure of working with Mayan families and Dr Renner and Purobi and their KIDS organization giving dental care to children in need in Guatemala. Without them translating and providing logistics, none of this would have been possible. They were kind, helpful and always had the children's best interest in mind. A great group and I highly recommend them.
I volunteered as a private pediatric dental practitioner for a pediatric dental mission this past august in Guatemala. Mayan families did an amazing job having things organized for us so we could efficiently and safely treat as many Mayan children as possible in a two week period. The local Mayan family volunteers did an amazing job helping translate and make the children patients feel as comfortable as possible. I hope to return one day!
I volunteered for two weeks with Mayan Families and I had an awesome time seeing how this nonprofit works and contributing my time and efforts. I spent a good deal of time with Mayan Families working at a dental clinic in several villages and also visited a few preschools where we did arts and crafts and distributed food bags to students. Great way to spend my time in Guatemala - I saw so much and learned even more than I ever would have as a typical tourist. Will definitely be back soon!
We visited Mayan Families as part of a 19 person church group installing stoves, distributing shoes, etc. We observed how the Mayan Families organization is in touch with the individual needs of the families they served. We would return from doing work and mention a specific family. The MF staff and especially the leader (Sharon) would then mention a few specifics about the family and their individual situation . . . right from their memory with no notes! It told me that they treat these several thousand families as real people with specific needs.
I also saw how MF react to new information . . . we would make observations about specific situations and they would clearly responds . . . sometimes with action during the time we were there and sometimes noting for future action.
I was also impressed by:
1. the obvious personal commitment of MF staff and leadership
2. the orientation toward action . . . there didn't appear to be too much "overhead/administration" stuff
3. how well MF documents the services they provide via photos
Mayan Families is so important to the indigenous families of the Lake Atitlan area. These unselfish, humanitarian people provide needed clothing, shoes, food, education, and homes to the families and children of these villages. However, they also are totally involved in working with Mayan people of all ages -- from the youngest children to the elderly. Mayan Families finds a way to provide homes for those families who cannot provide for themselves. Medical and dietary assistance is brought to the elderly. They selflessly spay and neuter dogs and cats in the villages.
Having spent a week volunteering for Mayan Families, I was amazed at Dwight and Sharon's dedication to helping preseve the lives and dignity of the Mayan Families. Their focus is to help eliminate malnutrition (e.g., food baskets, chickens) , provide education for the young people (e.g., school sponsorships for preschool through university), improve the quality and health conditions for the families (e.g., ONIL stoves, walter filters, clothing, shoes, medicines/medical care), and celebrate/respect the cultural beliefs and traditions of the Mayan families in this area of Guatemala.