We have been bringing groups to volunteer with Mayan Families since 2011 so we love working with them. I have visited several NGO's in Guatemala which all do wonderful work but I have found Mayan Families to be one of the best!
I visited Mayan Families (MF) not because I wanted to volunteer with a non-profit but because I’ve known its President/Founder, Dwight Poage, since we were in 8th grade. We quickly bonded, did all the stupid things kids do, and ended up being roommates until I got married and he went off traveling in the mid 80’s. I know this guy. When he’s with friends, he doesn’t talk much about the work he does. It took a trip to find out. First day there, Dwight throws us into the back of a truck to help deliver food to two MF facilities in neighboring villages. MF brings food to approximately 3,400 people daily. These are people who are in nutritional crisis (not knowing where the next meal is coming from.) 70% of the children they work with are chronically malnourished and their families live on less than $1.90 a day. We spent the week with Dwight as he toured us around while keeping all the plates spinning at MF. Dwight pointed out the heartbreaking signs of malnutrition in kids we’d see. Guatemala has some of the shortest people on earth because of chronic undernourishment. Being a friend for so long, I got to ask Dwight detailed questions about MF operations and finance.
If you wonder where your donation dollars go, MF put 80% of every donation dollar into its programs. The other 20% is what keeps the lights on, pays salaries and puts gas into the trucks that carry the food. MF employs about 150 people full time, paying a living wage and providing health care benefits. I’ve been to Dwight and Sharron’s home. It’s nice, but no one is living large on the MF staff, including the founders. All the other reviews will tell you how well organized volunteer trips are and how much fun they had. This review is to tell you how effective Mayan Families is and to assure you that your donations and time are well spent if making a difference is what you want to do.
I was blown away by the number of important programs this NGO is involved in. Preschools, clean water, meals for kids, meals for the elderly, medicines and wellness programs, occupational training, microloans, etc., etc. They impact so many people in their area, it is truly amazing and inspiring.
Absolutely amazing experience!!! Mayan Families was amazing to us and very good to the Mayan people! They do great work and really care about improving the lives of others! While we were there, we installed energy efficient stoves to improve the lives and health of the indigenous people in the community. I am honored that I got the chance to work with them and they are some of the most amazing and hard working people I have met! I would love to come back again and work with Mayan Families in the future and continue to help the great price of Guatemala!
This was my third time in Guatemala and working with Mayan Families in one year. Once again I had a great experience. One of the many reasons I continue to come back so frequently. I already have another trip scheduled for August of 2017. The staff at Mayan Families is very friendly and easy to work with. This trip, like my first was with my college Waukesha County Technical College. We annually take a group of healthcare students to work with Mayan Families and learn about the challenges facing the indigenous people of Guatemala, healthcare providers, and healthcare facilities. In addition to learning about all of the tremendous programs Mayan Families has to improve the lives of Guatemalans, we installed ONIL high efficiency wood burning stoves and SAWYER high efficiency water filters in peoples homes. This type of work has an immediate impact on the families respiratory health by diverting smoke out of the house via a chimney and GI health as their water is now free of bacteria and microorganisms. At one of the villages we served; a group of village women made us a traditional Guatemalan meal for lunch. The food was really good and abundant. This was an amazing act by the local women and it really showed their gratitude for the work we were doing in their village. These kind of experiences couldn't be possible for the average person if Mayan Families wasn't doing what they are doing. This can change your life. Not to mention Guatemala is a beautiful country, both in geography and it's inhabitants.
I have had the great pleasure of working with Mayan Families twice now. The first time was last January with my college. That trip completely changed my life and opened my eyes to the many issues facing the beautiful people of Guatemala. While working with Mayan Families the first time, I sponsored a child to go to school. This August, I took my 15 year old son to Panajachel and we worked with Mayan Families again. We installed some stoves, water filters and delivered food to a couple of pre-schools and the elderly feeding center in San Jorge where we also served the elderly. This trip had a profound effect on my son and reinforced my passion for helping the people of Guatemala. If it is at all possible, I highly recommend going to Panajachel and working with Mayan Families. They are a very transparent organization. When you make a donation to them, they show you where your money goes via pictures of your sponsor student or other donation recipient receiving their donation item. I sent our sponsor student a birthday gift, cake and food basket. The day after his birthday, I received a treasure trove of pictures of him and his mother at the Mayan Families head quarters receiving his gifts. I could go on and on and probably never say enough about Mayan Families and the work that they are doing for the indigenous people of Guatemala. My entire family will be returning to Panajachel in the summer of 2017 to do more great work with Mayan Families.
Last week was my first visit to Mayan Families in Pana. It was back to school week and the families were coming into pick up back to school supplies. The organization was amazing and the impact that sponsors make was clearly demonstrated.
The group I was with also had the opportunity to visit the pre-school in San Antonio, to deliver Pilas to 3 families and food baskets, toys and clothes to many more. The smiles, hugs and appreciation was overflowing from the recipients. Being able to not only sponsor a child but to have the opportunity to ask about a families needs and health and interact with the children provides so much joy.
We also had the opportunity to serve a meal and play bingo with the Elderly lunch program. The appreciation and hugs were overflowing.
I have been involved with Mayan Families for 6 years now. This organisation ensures that donors and sponsors can see first hand where their money goes by visiting with the students or elders one sponsors or seeing a project come to fruition. This November I am so excited as I will be bringing my 11 year old granddaughter, son-in-law and sister to Guatemala as I want them to meet the sisters I sponsor in a rural mountain village called El Barranco. Mayan Families staff will drive us to the home of the sisters I sponsor so we can visit with them for an afternoon; they will provide the driver, a vehicle, a Spanish/English interpreter and a Kaqchiquel/Spanish interpreter so that everyone can communicate comfortably. My granddaughter will be giving the children a box of superblocks and showing them how to build with them. We have been discussing Mayan culture, what to expect, how to get over shyness and language barriers to embrace my Guatemalan family.
My granddaughter has also made 10 gift bags for the women in the advanced sewing class as she loves to sew. These bags contain fabric, thread, lace and trim, buttons, and zippers for the ladies to use for home projects. She is enjoying the preparation for this trip as she helped me sort clothing and shoes, and bundle them into suitcases. i can hardly wait for this visit to happen with the support of Mayan Families staff. They make these visits easy and comfortable, breaking down cultural and language barriers, allowing friendship and trust to occur. not many non-profit organizations give to their sponsors and donors in this way.
I attached a photo of the girls I sponsor and their brother reading a Spanish book I brought as a gift. I feel this photo represents the relationship I have built up with this family. I feel so privileged to have this opportunity through Mayan Families.
Three years ago, on my 3rd visit to Panajachel, Guatemala, I decided to sponsor a 3 year old girl sothrough Mayan Families so she could attend preschool, get 2 meals per day, a daily vitamin, and learn Spanish in preparation for public school. I I wanted make a difference in the life on a girl, hoping to give her a chance for an education and a better future. At the same time, my mother decided to provide a considerable donation so that a teacher assistant could be hired for the pre-school.
Little did I know how this decision would impact my life and the journey it would take. This past November on my 5th visit to Guatemala, staff at Mayan Families arranged for me to spend an afternoon, visiting Marta Lidia and her family. My mother passed away this year, a difficult time for me. I brought a bag of her sweaters and shoes to give to the mother as a way to continue Mom's spirit for giving. Maria, the mother, was thrilled to have my mother's sweaters and actually chose to put on a pink one bringing me to tears as Mom was wearing that sweater on one of the last photos of the 2 of us. I showed the photo to this family. Orlando, the father, expressed deep condolences over my mother's death and proceeded to invite me to become a member of their family with the hopes that their love and support might in some small way, replace some of the love I miss from my mother. What an amazing gift - family and love - the biggest gift one could ever receive. And from a family that lives on $40 per week.
Little did I know that I would be the actual beneficiary from this sponsorship in such a meaningful and touching way. So thanks to Mayan Families for making the gift of love and family possible for me at a time when I missed my mother so much. I am so blessed and enriched by this volunteer opportunity.
I have worked with Mayan Families for over 8 years. They are outstanding in ministry, in trasnparency, and integrity. I would recommend them without question and look forward to future opportunities to be in ministry with them.
The Mayan Families organization is an amazing non profit that is helping to better the lives of the indigenous people who live in the Lake Atitlan area. I recently went on a mission trip with a group from the Community Church of Poway. We chose to install stoves, purchase and deliver beds and water filtration systems, work in the preschool at San Jorge, and feed lunch to seniors also in San Jorge. We always felt safe as we had guides, drivers, and interpreters who were with us. The accommodation and food were great. Many in our group were so touched that we are supporting students and the elderly through the Mayan Families scholarship program. We are starting to plan our 2017 mission trip. The humble, kind, Mayan people are so deserving of this help.
Our group of 12 participated in July 2016 with Mayan Families and ready to go back again. The projects kept us involved with the Mayan people and educated us on their needs. I believe that Mayan Families offers sustainable change with programs that they are not only involved in but help run the programs. A transformational change came about within us. It was a maiden voyage that bears repeating and can only encourage others to get involved. If you can't go see for yourself, please take our experience as proof that 1) they need your help, 2) all funds go for a multiple of needs that would not be met unless we were helping and 3) the programs Mayan Families implement are making a difference. Also....you can support with your pocket book - sponsor a child's education, an elder's support for food (there is no govt. programs), towards emergency medical care, toward trade schools, and a multitude of other programs. You won't regret getting involved with Mayan Families.