Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Emergency Family Assistance in Rural Guatemala

Ever think what life would be like if you and four
of your family members lived in a tiny shack like this one here?

High above the idyllic volcanic Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, near the destitute village of Tusuna lives Rosa and her 5 children, ages 5 to 12. Being indigenous Mayan, they have very little means of income or land to farm. Two years ago the father died, leaving Rosa and her kids with no stable income. To make matters worse, shortly thereafter, the family lost their home and their few possessions in a land-slide after a tropical storm. 

When we met them, they possessed  only the clothes on their backs and one single mattress for   all of them. The shack they were living in has dirt floors, a leaking tin roof, and makeshift walls of thin metal and bamboo.  Life in this hovel is unimaginably hard. The family lives on tortillas, rice and coffee. No fruit, no vegetables, no meat, no dairy. It is a tragic and appalling way for a family to live. Since their extended family is also quite poor, there is little help available to them. Sometimes Rosa is able to make a little money by collecting firewood but due to a very poor diet lacking in proper nutrients, Rosa and her family are all very small and malnourished. 

Luckily, help was on the way. The government offered to build them a new home but to get it stated, Rosa needed to pay $500 to pay to move the building supplies and hire a bricklayer. The house took two weeks to build. 

When we learned about the gravity of her family’s situation, we jumped to action. 
Upon meeting Rosa, it was immediately clear what a strong mother she is. We could see the pain in her eyes that she is not able to properly care for her children. She is quick to point out though that ALL the kids go to school every day, as she is determined they will all get an education. She is very eager to help her family climb out of this cycle of poverty.

Cause & Affect provided the $500 Rosa needed to get her home constructed. 
With an additional $300, my mother Linda and her friend Mary equipped her home with beds, blankets, pillows and kitchen supplies like pots, plates, a stove...basically everything she needed to make her house feel like a home. 

Rosa is now one of our partner organizations Feed the Dream for free to pay off the money in sweat equity, as she is very proud and doesn't want to live off of hand-outs.  

Needless to say, Rosa is extremely appreciative for the generosity of others, most of whom she has never met. When my mother Linda recently met with her, she was expressed how joyful she was that someone “heard her prayers for help.” Mom explained that Cause &Affect  was pleased to have been able to help her, as we have all been very blessed in our lives, but she made it clear that one thing was expected from her: one day, when someone else is in need, in whatever way that she can, Rosa will help out another family.   Pay it forward, as they say.

Seeing how far this family has come in just a few months proves once again how effective Cause & Affect's micro-philanthropy model is. Special thanks to my amazing mother who invested the money and sweat equity, shlepping furniture up a mountain, to help rescue this impoverished family in their time of need. You’re amazing mom.  

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