Tuesday, January 27, 2009

San Jorge Preschool.

January 2009.-Today we went to the San Jorge preschool with visitors from the U.S.
Carrie and her Mom, Marcia and their friend, Patti had a great time
playing with the kids.! Marcia is a school teacher and the children
enjoyed the time that was spent a the pre-school with the visitors.

Monday, May 7, 2007


The San Jorge Women's Group Committee and a picture of the Group

Update - June 2007. We got enough money donated to buy the land and it is already paid in full! We are now receiving donations for the actual building. Thank you so much to everybody who made it possible.

Update.- October 2007. A wonderful member of Mayan Families Connection, Carla Cooey and Westminster Church have raised $2620 toward the building! The best news is that a wonderful couple, who are members of the congregation, have agreed to match the first $15,000!!! Thank you!!!


We have had a situation come up very quickly, as things often do here.

The place in San Jorge where we have always held our women's meetings, Christmas Parties, etc was sold several years ago to an Evangelical church. They will be taking it over soon. Also the President of our Women's Group, Juana, who has kindly lent us a room in her house for the sewing classes, now needs to use the room for the family. She is giving us notice that in a few months she will need it back. She has been very kind letting us occupy her brand new room for this long.

For those of you who have been to San Jorge, you know that it is a very small town, really a village. Land is at a premium in this town. There are very few flat spaces, everything is either up or down.Right across from where we have always held our meetings a piece of land has become available. This land is big enough for us to build a house that will be used for many things.This has been a dream of ours for awhile now.

We would like to be able to have a permanent house for the women's group. We would like to be able to set up a co-op store there, so that their goods can be put on display.

We would like to have a pre-school space there during the day where children can come and learn, and mindful of the malnutrition there, receive two meals a day, they can also learn to draw, play with educational toys and receive some stimulation. There are many single mothers who work who have to leave their children unattended.

We would like to have a permanent space for the Sewing class.

We would like it to be a space where medical and dental clinics can use the space and it would be clean. Have a decent toilet and running water. (Things that these groups like to have!)

We would like to have classes there for teenagers and adults to be able to learn to read and write. If people do not know how to read or write, there is no place for them to go and learn.

We would like to have cooking classes and other classes as they become available.

We can also use it for emergency housing, for women who need to get away from an abusive situation, for natural emergencies.

Land space, especially, in the centre like this piece is highly sought after. We are very fortunate that the man who is selling it would like us to have it, he likes what we are doing in San Jorge. There are other people who are asking him for this land. It will go very quickly. So we have taken a great leap of faith.The land is $10,000. U.S. We have put a deposit on the land of $1,350. U.S. We have signed a contract to come up with the rest of the money in two months. This is a huge risk we have taken but this center is very important. It will be a wonderful thing to have. There is so little land there that this opportunity to have a piece right where we need it may never come again. If it wasn't for this fact that land is so tight there we would not have taken this risk. It is really a Miracle already that this man is willing to wait two months for us to pay when he has people willing to pay it in full today.

We envision a two storey building. But in the meantime we have to pay for this land. We are asking for your help in any form that you can give it, donations, prayers, suggestions and ideas.You all have such great ideas .

I am counting on you to come up with some now!!! Fingers and toes crossed, Sharon

The piece of land bought is the one with the crumbling walls.

If you would like to make a donation, please contact us at mayanfamilies@yahoo.com or visit our website http://www.mayanfamilies.org/


San Jorge la Laguna is a small village between Sololá and Panajachel, on the side of the mountains, overlooking beautiful Lake Atitlan. It is a very steep, hilly village and the communal water supply is in the middle of the village. Women and children have to carry numerous heavy loads of water on their head in plastic containers, daily, up and down the steep trails and pathways. It is time consuming and back breaking work.

The population is approximately 5,000 and entirely Indigenous. The language spoken is Kaqchikel.

Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America and struggles with some of the lowest social indicators in the hemisphere. It is still suffering the effect of the 36 year old civil war that ended in 1996. It suffers from extreme income inequality — 56 percent of the population lives in poverty, one in five in extreme poverty. Infant mortality is among the worst in the region (39 per 1,000 live births), maternal mortality is extremely high (153 per 100,000 births) and chronic malnutrition remains a serious problem (49 percent)In the Department of Sololá, where San Jorge la Laguna is located, 76% of the population lives in poverty – living on less than $2 per day.

Our recent survey found that 75% of the families in San Jorge have daily incomes of about $1 per person. Most women make beaded jewelry or weave and many don't know how to read or write.

There are approximately 600 kids under two years of age in San Jorge.

School children in a parade in main part of town


This family's bathroom

Woman in need of new kitchen



We need a place to continue the Sewing School in San Jorge.

Nearly all the women in the group want to learn to sew on the machines. Part of their traditional clothing includes aprons that have machine embroidery on it plus their traditional skirts (cortes) also includes machine embroidery. The women really want to learn to sew to be able to make these items for themselves but also are able to then make money sewing these items for other women.

We started this project with a donation of $3,000 and have used the same principles of the chicken project.

A group of eleven women do four months of classes twice a week. They are very excited about learning this skill. They now can sew purses, shorts, blouses and the traditional clothing.

We are doing the classes by lottery and the next group of eleven women have already been chosen and are waiting to start. We have a professional tailor who teaches the women and he also repairs the machines.

The women are very keen to learn anything that could help them financially. We still have many women wanting to learn to sew on machines.

Members of the San Jorge Women's Group proudly display aprons made at the Sewing Class
Alberto, the teacher
* * * * * * * *
Feb. 2007 This happy group of women are all graduates of the sewing classes that we teach in San Jorge. They are seen here receiving their sewing machines to take home. They are photographed with Jan Jantzen from Miracles in Action who was present the day we were giving out the machines. Jan has been buying machines and bringing them down to Guatemala and supporting the sewing group.
May 2007. Stan and Grace from the Canadian group Connexiones, photographed with the sewing machines that they brought down for the new graduates of the sewing class.

October 2007.- This is the current graduating class from our sewing classes. They have finished four months of classes. They have been attending classes twice a week, four hours a session for the past four months. They are now in graduate class and attending the class once a week. They are very proficient at sewing and very anxious to keep going. We have had enough sewing machines donated to us that they will all receive a sewing machine after the graduate classes finish. Thank you to the people who have donated sewing machines - these women will have the chance to be more self sufficient.