We arrived in Panajachel on Saturday and soon it started to rain. It rained all day Sunday and when we woke up on Monday we saw that it was cloudy once again. It was an inconvenience for us, only because we would need to wear our raincoats and the kids were not going to be able to use the hotel pool. What I did not imagine was the misery it really brings to some people here.
I met some employees from Mayan Families early on Monday morning and we left Panajachel to deliver food and supplies to the preschools that Mayan Families runs in San Jorge, El Barranco and Tierra Linda. On the way to San Jorge we saw that there had been a huge mudslide earlier in the day and huge boulders were blocking one lane. Some municipals workers were trying to clear the road but it was obvious it would take a long time and more equipment to move all those huge rocks. Buses were not allowed on the road, only smaller vehicles. I am sure that affected a lot of people that were counting on the buses to transport them.
When we arrived in Tierra Linda we delivered the supplies and then left to visit some families, guided by the preschool teacher. She brought us to the most remote homes in the village. The road was blocked by a fallen tree and we had to walk. It was extremely muddy but it got worse once we took the small pathways and it started to rain. We first visited the home of Rolando, a sponsored student by Mayan Families. He was taking a bath next to a tank where they collect water. It was cold and he was trying to do it quickly. We visited his home and I was shocked to see the state of the walls. They were made of mud bricks and there were cracks all over. The floor was made of dirt and it was starting to get wet. I am sure it would soon turn to mud. It was a very small room. There were two small beds and only one had a thin mattress. They showed us another room where the grandmother and the two smaller kids slept. It was just wooden boards on top of some blocks and it did not have a mattress. They only had a couple of blankets.
We visited other homes nearby and they seemed to be even worse. I have been to Guatemala 4 times but these were the worst living conditions I had ever seen. The houses were made of mud brick that was falling apart. The walls had pieces of mud missing in some places and the owners had put plastic to try to cover the holes but you could still see light coming through them. These homes seemed like they could fall down any minute. Some of them were right on the edge of the clif and they were in danger of falling down all the way to the bottom of the mountain. There rooms were very dark and some homes did not have electricity connected so they would stay that way day and night. Some had Onil stoves donated by Mayan Families and their supporters and thankfully, there was no smoke in the rooms. There was mud everywhere and most of the kids were barefoot. I felt like crying and I was mad. I could not believe those were their homes and they had to be there every day.
I thought I had seen the worst and then we got to the home of Rudy, Yesica and Josue, also sponsored to attend school. The mother was boiling some water and there was smoke all over the room they use as kitchen. They showed us the rest of the house, a room with space for a small cot and a small bed. The cot did not have a mattress and a very thin blanket of top. You could feel the wires and I could not imagine having to sleep on top of that. The other bed did not have a mattress either. The walls were covered with plastic in some places to cover the holes on the mud brick. It looked like it could fall any minute. The mother told us the husband had left 3 weeks before and she did not have any money to buy food for her children. She had only been able to get a couple of jobs cleaning onions but it was very difficult to find jobs. There was no food at the home and I mean nothing, not one potato or beans, or corn. I felt so powerless. I looked in my pockets and I only had 25 quetzals to give her. I had forgotten to exchange money and I had nothing else to give her. She was very grateful and said she would buy corn flour to make tortillas for her children. It was raining very heavy, the closest store was in the center of town which meant she either had to leave the kids home alone while she tried to walk in the mud and rain or one of children would have to make the trip to buy the flour.
We had to leave but promised to try to do something for her. She was crying saying she was desperate, that she wished she could take poison to end it all. It broke my heart to hear her say that because her children where right there. All the way down the mountain I was mad and I stayed mad all day. Life is so unfair to some people. I don't understand why and it makes me mad. I just hope I will stay mad long enough to do something for her and the other families.
If you are interested in the work which Mayan Families does check them out at: