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.
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.
This is a simply wonderful organisation. We have visited many times and remain deeply impressed at the professionalism and compassion we see each trip. The programs save and change lives for the better in a sustainable way. No praise properly captures our opinion of Mayan Families, the staff and the volunteers.
I spent an amazing week with Mayan Families seeing first hand the wonderful work they are doing in Guatemala. The educational, economic, health, and home programs they operate not only sustain, but are making a life changing and in many instances life saving difference in the lives of the Guatemalan people. Wonderful organization with the most amazing people involved!
I have known Mayan Families a year after they started, when I came to Panajachel, at Lake Atitlan Guatemala, seven years ago. This was in 2006. I am simply amazed at the difference they have made in our small town, and every day you can see the huge difference they have made. There is no mistaking the changes that have taken place in the many villages around Lake Atitlan, all with the mark of Mayan Families. This is all due to the good-hearted, dedicated people that work with Mayan Families, the many volunteers, and the wonderful indigenous peoples that participate in the programs. I love living here now because of these changes, and I am so grateful that I can participate in them, too. Gratefulness on both sides counts!
The difference we see in the families, now with access to medical care, health & education, elder care, workshops, sewing and trade school programs, Mothers Day Baskets, Christmas baskets, Onil stoves, water filters, street dogs, street cleanup and recycling, micro-loans, savings accounts, women's empowerment, orphan care and more: just about anything that needs doing, Mayan Families has a hand in doing it.
It has grown from Sharon Smart & her husband Dwight working out of their own home to take in stray dogs and homeless children, to a very large group of fantastic volunteers and staff in Panajachel, where practically every cent goes to help so many. I think Mayan Families helped put more than 2,000 students through school. And they provide scholarships, shoes, books, supplies, pencils, paper, backpacks and more. No stone is left unturned to help these children who will be able to bring their families into the world of "reading and writing" and out of the third world suffering and poverty they have lived in for so long.
Education, Encouragement and Enabling are the key words here, and "enabling" in the best sense of the word, to help bring about a world that blends the indigenous culture with the modern challenges we all now face. It's a bridge here that people want to cross, and Mayan Families helps them do it.
Along with educational scholarships, I love the fact that they have started JOB TRAINING PROGRAMS that can be used here at home and are opening up international markets for the indigenous artisans around Lake Atitlan. The whole world is beginning to be at their fingertips, and it's a great doorway to "the other side." Along with the many medical missions and educational programs coordinated by Mayan Families, they are a hotbed of productivity & activity!
We need more people and groups in the world like Mayan Families... they are a role model for us all! I do all I can to help the good people at Mayan Families, and I hope you do too!
January was my first time to Guatamela and the Mayan Families organization and I can't tell you how life changing this experience was. I found myself on an emotional rollercoaster the whole week I was there. My heart went out to the people of Panajachel after observing the struggles they encounter to just survive on a daily basis. I couldn't get over how organized and structured the Mayan Families were and the help and hope they give these wonderful people. It was so obvious how devoted this organization is to help the people help themselves.
I am now sponsoring a child and an elderly person and I know that every donation I give goes exactly where I want it to go. And for this I am so very thankful to the Mayan Families because without them this would not be possible. Like I said it was an emotional rollercoaster ride, but it was the best ride of my life and I will be definitely be back next January.
Support all our ancestors and tribes. Now it is easy to donate from you phone. Go to www.soloago.com from your iPhone/iPad and start donating to this and other Non-Profits
I sponsor 2 children thru Mayan Families and often donate to other Guatemalan families as needs arise. I'm always impressed with the professionalism, compassion and dedication shown by the Mayan Families staff. Consistent, precise communication is offered to donors and friends of Mayan Families via email, listservs, blogs and websites. When floods destroyed their own home, staff members ignored their own needs and instead quickly relocated to help their neighbors and our sponsored students who were also affected. I recommend Mayan Families to my friends and coworkers who want to make charitable donations that truly make a difference in peoples' lives.
Review from Guidestar
I recently spent a month in Panajachel, Guatemala and visited Mayan Families. Dwight, the director, spoke with our small group about the work of Mayan Families. I was especially impressed by the 360 degree approach that this organization uses to address the poverty of the local Mayan population. Their efforts at fund raising is word of mouth and their gratitude for even the smallest of gifts was truly inspiring. Dwight enthusiastically commented that even a $25 gift from a friend of mine would make a huge difference in their work. Their initiative to support children in going to school is a critical aspect of their work . Educating the children is the only possibility of creating a future for them that isn't one of total poverty, and malnutrition.
Review from Guidestar
I love all the hard work Mayan Families does. I especially like how they keep someone like me informed of what is happening and how I can help
While visiting Guatemala with some friends from another NGO, we were fortunate to spend an afternoon with Mayan Families, learning about their work. Hearts of Gold!! They give their all to the poor people of Guatemala, helping in a wide variety of ways. We visited a sewing center where the women not only learn a trade, but are given a sewing machine upon graduation so they have the tools needed to support themselves through their work. This is true sustainable development work.
Unless one has seen the poverty of other contries, one can not understand the importance of any help these families get from anyone let alone the magnitude of the help provided by Mayan Families
I am a member of several listservs whose members share a common concern for Guatemala. On these listservs I have read about the amazing work of Mayan Families through firsthand testimonials of volunteers and other contributors as well as those who have sought and received help for loved ones in Guatemala. I have only heard high praise about Mayan Families and have never heard a bad word.
I have numerous friends have direct interactions with Mayan Families and I have been amazed by the work that they do! As an adoptive parent to two Guatemalan daughters I have keen interest in groups doing things the "right" way and with honesty and integrity. This clearly is one of these organizations.
Review from Guidestar
We have been living in the community where Mayan family is based for many years and know the founders and their family personally. What I have seen them do over the years cannot properly be described in words: Their dedication, selflessness and competence always blows my mind. Apart from having great ideas and knowing where help is needed most, they follow through with every great project they plan, are well organized and very well presented on the internet and locally. They follow up on projects so that you can see where the money or physical help you provided went. I have recommended Mayan Families to many friends and family memebers as an organization that can be fully trusted, knowing that the money you give really goes where it is supposed to. I am honestly impressed by Mayan Families.
I've been hearing about the work of Mayan Families from my niece, who is a volunteer there this month. I'm so impressed by the variety of efforts they make on behalf of the sick, the hungry, the aged, the children and the homeless in their community. A wide variety of services helping destitute people. Thank you, Mayan Families.