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Volunteering Oportunities

Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Community Improvement & Capacity Building, Emergency Assistance, International, International Development, Personal Social Services

Mission: As an accredited 501(c)(3) non-governmental organization, Mayan Families' mission is to facilitate sustainable development programs in impoverished communities throughout the Lake Atitlán region of rural Guatemala. Our objective is to stimulate long-term progress through school sponsorships, health initiatives, vocational training and microfinance, while providing emergency aid to those in critical need. Our organization operates on the principle that all people should have access to the basic necessities of life. We strive to accomplish our goals through working democratically with the communities we serve. Sign up for Our Newsletter and see how you can support us further: http://bit.ly/1beeo1p

Results: Mayan Families has supported 3,620 students in the past 10 years through our Student Sponsorship Program from the Preschool to University levels. We operate 7 Preschools year round that feed and educate malnourished children. Currently, our Education Program has 2,554 active students.Our Trade School has trained 364 people in different disciplines: 92 sewing students, 46 carpentry students, 221 computer students and 5 welding students. We have provided 344 Microloans to help impoverished Indigenous Mayan Women. 1,364 clients and families benefited from financial and nutritional support throughout 2014-15. This year we donated 425 Stoves, which reduce air pollution and help create a safer home environment. In 2015 alone, Mayan Families gave out 455 Water Filters, giving 3,315 indigenous families gained access to clean water. We have also held over 6 years of Clinics in the poorest communities in rural Guatemala. Our medical team has seen over 2,000 patients via mobile clinics in over 10 different communities, as well as over 1,000 patients in the Charlie Gomez Medical Clinic. We have served a daily meal to 85 elderly, reducing the rate of disease and cutting down malnutrition. Mayan Families have had three sets of 25 women and their children pass through Well Mother Well Baby and see statistically significant improvement in their lives We have had 65 kids in critical need receive food aid and education. Please go to our website for more information on our programs and impact: www.mayanfamilies.org

Target demographics: Indigenous Mayan Guatemalans living in extreme poverty

Direct beneficiaries per year: Thousands of Guatemalan families living in extreme poverty

Geographic areas served: Guatemala

Programs: Mayan Families programs: Student Sponsorship, Preschool Nutrition Centers, Tutoring Program, Reproductive Health & Family Planning, Family Assistance, Community Development, Natural Building Workshops, Medical Program, Elderly Care, Income Generating Programs, Microloans Programs, Animal Welfare, Women Health and Children Aid.

Community Stories

127 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

Wow! All I can is I was a traveler before hand. I had done a few trips to work with Charities and I just want to say that this trip with Mayan Families was amazing and it changed my life forever! I know that sounds silly, but it is true! I am so happy that I did this trip with Mayan Families! Very well organized! The Volunteer Coordinators were great! We had very little down time which is what I like! We got to deal with so many families and visit different Mayan Families projects! Fantastic! I am so impressed! Very well run organization! Truly impressive!
Mayan Families is now my focus! I want to do more and this is the NGO that has earned my time and talents!

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories
5

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

1

Donor

Rating: 4

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.

Previous Stories
3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

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1

Donor

Rating: 5

I've had the pleasure of working with this excellent organization since it's inception. Often donors wonder about the true impact of their contribution. Not so with Miracles in Action where 100 percent of your donation goes directly to the cause. Overhead expenses are covered through special donations and handicraft sales. This is a rare, but highly effective business model. This charity creates substantive change in the communities it serves and I've been fortunate to see that firsthand. In an area faced with crushing poverty and limited opportunities, Miracles in Action is truly a blessing.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Mayan Families is amazing! I just returned from Guatemala and am very inspired by their work. We visited a preschool in an impoverished community called Chukmuk where malnutrition is rampant. Mayan Families provides these kids, many of whom suffer from stunted growth, with a nutritious meal and snack each day - likely the only food they will eat. The children also learn to speak Spanish so they will be ready when they start school. This early intervention in both their physical and mental development offers these children a much better future.

I've had the good fortune to volunteer with Mayan Families for many years. They are transparent and open to all with a heart to help. Thank you, Mayan Families, for allowing me to be a part of your great work!

3

Donor

Rating: 5

Mayan Families is an incredible organization led by their founders, Dwight Poage and Sharon Smart. Their work and dedication is awe inspiring.

Donor

Rating: 5

I spent several days traveling with the team from Mayan Families visiting preschools and homes in the towns around Panajachel. The trip was fantastic as I personally witnessed the work they do to bring a better way of life to the less fortunate in the area. I saw happy and healthy children due to the multivitamins and nourishment they received due to the support of Mayan Families. I also visited homes that had clean drinking water due to the supplied water filters and stoves to cook on that were also supplied by Mayan Families. Truly a very emotional experience and one that I will never forget.

1 Jenna25

Donor

Rating: 5

We visited Mayan Families last week to view their preschools and nutrition program. We were highly impressed by the caliber of their work and their obvious dedication to their community. The staff is professional, kind, and talented. They have taken on a monumental task by choosing to take a holistic approach to building stronger communities, and they handle every challenge with a high level of skill and compassion.

The children and mothers we visited in the communities around the lake were confident, friendly, and obviously proud of their association with Mayan Families. To me, this is the strongest indicator of the success Mayan Families has found in its work.

We are proud to partner with Mayan Families, and look forward to continuing our relationship!

2

Donor

Rating: 5

After watching the documentary Living On One, I decided to sponsor a student through Mayan Families. As a sponsor, I provide funds for many of her school supplies and needs as a one time yearly payment, but I think it can be done in installments, too. As a sponsor you can choose to do a full or half sponsorship of a child. I am kept up to date with photographs of my student receiving her school supplies, and with her report card. Of course it is not required, but you may choose to send donations specifically for other things the child or their family needs. Food, a water filter, a mattress, a birthday gift. You are given access to a written profile of the child and their family situation, which is updated as things change. Any time I send a donation I am shown photographs of my student and her family receiving the items, and hand written thank you letters that my sponsored child holds up proudly for the camera. These are eventually mailed to me. You can remain anonymous to the people you sponsor, or you can ask for and receive greater detail about their lives, and be available to help if they have a family emergency. It's entirely up to you.

As well as individual student sponsorships, you can donate toward specific families, elderly folks, children in crisis, people with medical needs, the animal rescue program, pre-school, vocational training, many many more programs! Or just give funds where needed most.

I appreciate the ability to verify that my sponsored child is indeed receiving the donations I am sending. Many individuals and groups visit in person and they are welcomed.

Mayan Families has given me the opportunity to make a real difference in a child's life.
I hope to donate some time as a volunteer soon, doing computer work over the internet.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

We currently are sponsoring two students and helping their families through Mayan Families. We just came back from a 5 week trip to Guatemala where we also were able to do some volunteering with Mayan Families. It is an amazing organization helping many families and kids. Their many preschools in the areas around Lake Atitlan provide not only basic education, especially Spanish study. to ready the children for primary school but also a daily nutritional breakfast, followed by teeth brushing (we led a class this time at a preschool in the highlands and donated toothbrushes for 50+ children!) We visited our 2 sponsored families, seeing the living conditions of extreme poverty is an eye opener and helps us know that our relatively modest donations for a roof, stove, table, chairs, beds, are much needed and valued. This is an organization we are so happy to be involved with. They are also great in maintaining communication with us about the organization and our sponsored families. Thank you, Mayan Families! Lynn and Greg