Our History

The Maya Relief Foundation was officially organized on July 4, 2002, with the goal of serving the humanitarian needs of the poor in Latin America. Over the years the foundation has gone from funding a broad range of projects, including Mesoamerican archeological projects both in Mexico and Guatemala, to a very select effort to help in a more relevant fashion .  Focus has been placed more on helping the “living Maya” with their greatest needs for health and well being.  Self-reliance for the Maya depends first on the replacement of indoor open cooking fires with highly efficient cooking stoves.  Once that is in place, a water purifier is their next greatest need.  These two items change the quality of their lives forever.

Since most Maya families (and much of the Third World) use open cooking fires inside their homes, their health suffers greatly.  Maya Relief has always been aware and concerned about the dire conditions within the home that affect primarily the mothers and children.  The open fires and accompanying smoke and toxins cause respiratory problems, terrible burns, eye irritations, rampant deforestation, and come at a huge cost to the family in their time spent obtaining the firewood for cooking. Back in 2002, Maya Relief Foundation began installing a very efficient cement cook stove with great results.  No more smoke inside the house.  No more burns or eye irritations.  70% less wood was needed to operate their stove, and time and money spent decreased greatly.

Clean water is a worldwide challenge, and in Guatemala 95% of the water sources are contaminated.  On top of that it has been found that nearly 40% of the Maya daily wood supply is used to boil water for drinking. Maya Relief Foundation has joined forces with the highly effective Ecofiltro company to provide homes with a purifier that can provide 10 gallons of bacteria free water daily.   Over the past 10 years, it has been verified that portable home water purifiers are a practical and reliable solution to this problem. Maya Relief has seen evidence throughout Guatemala that families with water purifiers are drinking more water, resulting in greater health.  The families appreciate that the threat of constant dysentery or diarrhea from contaminated water has been eliminated.

Maya Relief’s major projects are carried out by its Guatemalan counterpart, Socorro Maya, located in the highlands of San Pedro Carcha, Alta Verapaz. Thousands of efficient stoves and water filters have been placed into over 100 communities by the Socorro Maya team, headed by Carlos Barrios. Additional projects are offered to these same families. For example, the Mosaic Corn Program that brings expertise, soil testing and high-grade seed to the farmers who join the program.  A Mosaic Corn Program farmer yields 2-3 times greater corn harvest compared to the use of their traditional methods.  Besides providing adequate corn to his family for the whole year, the farmer is now capable of earning cash by selling his excess corn.  Over 900 families have participated in this program since it began in 2007.

Kirk Humanitarian Foundation has partnered with Maya Relief to provide a prenatal multi nutritional program for pregnant and nursing mothers in Guatemala.  Beginning in February 2012, Kirk Humanitarian provided a year supply of pre-natal vitamins for 14,000 women.  Maya Relief through Socorro Maya targeted villages with high-risk women in their child bearing years for these multi nutrients. The goal is to decrease or eliminate certain birth defects and stunted growth caused by poor nutrition, and also to improve the mothers’ overall health.  Other charities have helped in the monitoring and distribution of these multi nutritionals. The goal is for this program to expand each year to include an ever-greater number of women in Guatemala, with the expectation that their improved nutrition will increase birth weight for their babies with less health problems caused by malnutrition.

Maya Relief has created relationships with like-minded foundations where alliances are mutually beneficial. One example was a project carried out in 2011 with FUNSEPA, a local Guatemala foundation that provides computers to primary schools in rural areas. Microsoft donates appropriate software. Funsepa prepares the computers and monitors and identifies the communities.  Socorro Maya employees work side by side with community parents in preparing the rural schools to become “computer ready” with the proper infrastructure of electricity and secure facilities. The enthusiasm from the communities has been overwhelming.  Most of these children quickly adapt to the world of technology, and know it is part of their future.

The list of new ways to help the indigenous Maya become self-reliant grows with each passing day. Once a family has the efficient cooking stove and the Ecofiltro water purifier, they are well on their way to self-sufficiency.  Progress is happening among the Maya because of the new hope they have to provide for their families.

Give a gift of CLEAN WATER & STOVES this season

What to give a SPECIAL GIFT to someone who has everything this season?  You can give the GIFT of a WATER-FILTER ($35.00) or a STOVE ($125.00) or BOTH ($160.00) to a Maya family this year in the name a friend or love one.  A holiday card will be sent out to your friend or love one with information about their special GIFT and a note that says:

“A gift of a water-filter (or stove or both) has been donated on your behalf to a Maya Family in Guatemala. Your GIFT will change the life of their family for years to come.”

What a wonderful GIFT to give this season!  A GIFT of HOPE and LOVE that will FOREVER change not just the Maya Family from Guatemala but YOURS and the person you are giving it to!

The GIFT of CLEAN water

Eko Stove Gift

HOPE is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large.  May we all have HOPE this season in our giving this year.

“Everything that is DONE in the world is done by HOPE.” -Martin Luther

*There will be a confirmation email sent to you after your donation and if you could respond to that email (rob@mayarelief.com) and give us your details of your donation.  WHO you would you are giving the gift to and WHERE you would like us to send the card to and HOW you would like us to sign the card; we will promptly send out your generous gift.  Enjoy this season of GIVING!

5K run for the Maya September 14, 2013

runformayans Logo

Our 5K Run for Water event will benefit many Maya families by providing them with much needed water purifiers.  Maya Relief Foundation’s Women2Women group works to help the 1.7 million indigenous Maya families in Guatemala to have clean water.  Your entry fee of $35 will give a family this life changing product, giving them at least 10 gallons of pure, fresh water each day.  Without this Ecofilter, their water must be boiled, using costly wood, creating smoke and toxic gases in their homes, and contributing to deforestation. Women and children suffer the most from these consequences and become the greatest benefactors of the eco-friendly Ecofilter. 100% of your donation will go directly to benefit these families and put them on the road to self-reliance and better health.

1. $35 per person or $70 per family

*as a reminder, any amount you donate today will go directly toward buying water filters and stoves for the Maya families – a Water-filter costs $35 and a stove costs $125

2. 5K race/walk (all ages welcome)

*medals for top 3 men/women and for top 3 male/female youth (under 16)

1 Mile Fun Run (ages 8- 14)

*medals for top 3 boys and girls

Diaper Dash (ages 0-8)

*medals for top 3 boys and girls

3. Timeline:

8am- registration

(sign-in and pick up your bib)

8:30- 5K begins

9:15- 1 Mile Fun Run begins

9:40- Diaper Dash

9:45- Medal ceremony for all races


Working together on the Garden

These women have the vision of community cooperation. Working shoulder to shoulder they are planting the seeds for a large group garden. They rented a parcel of land and are planting the different seeds for their first community harvest.  With this first crop of vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, eggplant, carrots, etc., they will have their first supply of homegrown vegetables.  Instead of paying 3 Quetzales for a stubby little carrot of 3 inches or less in a neighboring market, they will have 6-8 inch, juicy carrots for all the families to share in the village.  The one man in the picture is one of our Socorro Maya “tecnicos,”  who has come to show them how to plant a variety of seeds to provide a more well balanced diet, especially for their children, and still have sufficient surplus to trade with other villages. This helps create a self sufficient village.

Garden Sustainable Ladies Planting (1)

Gunderson Family Volunteer Service in Guatemala

Riding in the back of a truck to meet with community leaders of Tanchi are Rob Reinhart, Carlos Barrios, Mary Gunderson and Jon Gunderson. The meeting will revolve around the families of Tanchi entering into a program of efficient stoves, water filters, room dividers, cash crop gardens and social workers. The community is gathered to discuss the benefits of these items and why the families will pay something. Experience shows that free handouts don’t work. Maya Relief Foundation provides them interest free loans to pay back their subsidized amount. The families can cover the “purchase” amount in 4-5 months through savings from 75% less purchased wood and 95% less purchased water.

Gunderson's in Truck

Elderly Maya Ladies still have to work

Although colorful to watch, our hearts go out to the elderly Maya women who still must earn a living.  Here we have a widow in Chichicastenango receiving a few “monedas” for the sale of some vegetables grown on her own property in the hills.  Notice the old fashion scales she uses to weigh her produce.

Woman Poor Selling Produce Chichi

Refugees finally receive new homes

Panabaj Chukumuc1

Panabaj Chukumuc2

Bunkbeds transferred to new homes

Website21

Maya women praying

The poor women of Guatemala not only carry a heavy burden of hard labor, including cooking over an open fire and raising children in a dangerous environment, but they are the real spiritual examples of the community.  Despite their plight, they pray for others who are in some type of need.  They offer gratitude for any type of help. Diego Chavez has been our volunteer in organizing sustainable projects amongst these Maya refugees of Santiago Atitlan (Lake Atitlan).

Women Praying Panabaj

Guatemalan Boys Must Carry Heavy Loads

The young boy is probably ten years old despite how small he appears.  To help with the family’s main source of food, he carries huge loads of corn from the field which his father has just harvested.  His physical body usually can’t hold up with strain of this hard labor and his chances of full development are slim.  It is literally child labor.  Through our health programs, the local social workers must teach the parents the damage they are imposing upon their children.

Boy Carrying Load

Guatemalan Men Carry Heavy Loads.

You simply cannot go anywhere in Guatemala without seeing men hunched over carrying something on their backs which, more than not, weighs more than they do.  They are experts at managing their loads.  Rarely do they fall or drop their loads, and they generally move fast.  The most common load is wood for their indoor cooking fires.  Because of the high need for firewood, the men spend most of their time bringing wood home, so they can’t get gainful employment. (Solution: ONIL Stove)

Man Carrying Wood

Give a gift of CLEAN WATER & STOVES this season

What to give a SPECIAL GIFT to someone who has everything this season?  You can give the GIFT of a WATER-FILTER ($35.00) or a STOVE ($125.00) or BOTH ($160.00) to a Maya family this year in the name a friend or love one.  A holiday card will be sent out to your friend or love one with information about their special GIFT and a note that says:

“A gift of a water-filter (or stove or both) has been donated on your behalf to a Maya Family in Guatemala. Your GIFT will change the life of their family for years to come.”

What a wonderful GIFT to give this season!  A GIFT of HOPE and LOVE that will FOREVER change not just the Maya Family from Guatemala but YOURS and the person you are giving it to!

The GIFT of CLEAN water

Eko Stove Gift

HOPE is the state which promotes the desire of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or in the world at large.  May we all have HOPE this season in our giving this year.

“Everything that is DONE in the world is done by HOPE.” -Martin Luther

*There will be a confirmation email sent to you after your donation and if you could respond to that email (rob@mayarelief.com) and give us your details of your donation.  WHO you would you are giving the gift to and WHERE you would like us to send the card to and HOW you would like us to sign the card; we will promptly send out your generous gift.  Enjoy this season of GIVING!

5K run for the Maya September 14, 2013

runformayans Logo

Our 5K Run for Water event will benefit many Maya families by providing them with much needed water purifiers.  Maya Relief Foundation’s Women2Women group works to help the 1.7 million indigenous Maya families in Guatemala to have clean water.  Your entry fee of $35 will give a family this life changing product, giving them at least 10 gallons of pure, fresh water each day.  Without this Ecofilter, their water must be boiled, using costly wood, creating smoke and toxic gases in their homes, and contributing to deforestation. Women and children suffer the most from these consequences and become the greatest benefactors of the eco-friendly Ecofilter. 100% of your donation will go directly to benefit these families and put them on the road to self-reliance and better health.

1. $35 per person or $70 per family

*as a reminder, any amount you donate today will go directly toward buying water filters and stoves for the Maya families – a Water-filter costs $35 and a stove costs $125

2. 5K race/walk (all ages welcome)

*medals for top 3 men/women and for top 3 male/female youth (under 16)

1 Mile Fun Run (ages 8- 14)

*medals for top 3 boys and girls

Diaper Dash (ages 0-8)

*medals for top 3 boys and girls

3. Timeline:

8am- registration

(sign-in and pick up your bib)

8:30- 5K begins

9:15- 1 Mile Fun Run begins

9:40- Diaper Dash

9:45- Medal ceremony for all races


Working together on the Garden

These women have the vision of community cooperation. Working shoulder to shoulder they are planting the seeds for a large group garden. They rented a parcel of land and are planting the different seeds for their first community harvest.  With this first crop of vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, eggplant, carrots, etc., they will have their first supply of homegrown vegetables.  Instead of paying 3 Quetzales for a stubby little carrot of 3 inches or less in a neighboring market, they will have 6-8 inch, juicy carrots for all the families to share in the village.  The one man in the picture is one of our Socorro Maya “tecnicos,”  who has come to show them how to plant a variety of seeds to provide a more well balanced diet, especially for their children, and still have sufficient surplus to trade with other villages. This helps create a self sufficient village.

Garden Sustainable Ladies Planting (1)

Gunderson Family Volunteer Service in Guatemala

Riding in the back of a truck to meet with community leaders of Tanchi are Rob Reinhart, Carlos Barrios, Mary Gunderson and Jon Gunderson. The meeting will revolve around the families of Tanchi entering into a program of efficient stoves, water filters, room dividers, cash crop gardens and social workers. The community is gathered to discuss the benefits of these items and why the families will pay something. Experience shows that free handouts don’t work. Maya Relief Foundation provides them interest free loans to pay back their subsidized amount. The families can cover the “purchase” amount in 4-5 months through savings from 75% less purchased wood and 95% less purchased water.

Gunderson's in Truck

Elderly Maya Ladies still have to work

Although colorful to watch, our hearts go out to the elderly Maya women who still must earn a living.  Here we have a widow in Chichicastenango receiving a few “monedas” for the sale of some vegetables grown on her own property in the hills.  Notice the old fashion scales she uses to weigh her produce.

Woman Poor Selling Produce Chichi

Refugees finally receive new homes

Panabaj Chukumuc1

Panabaj Chukumuc2

Bunkbeds transferred to new homes

Website21

Maya women praying

The poor women of Guatemala not only carry a heavy burden of hard labor, including cooking over an open fire and raising children in a dangerous environment, but they are the real spiritual examples of the community.  Despite their plight, they pray for others who are in some type of need.  They offer gratitude for any type of help. Diego Chavez has been our volunteer in organizing sustainable projects amongst these Maya refugees of Santiago Atitlan (Lake Atitlan).

Women Praying Panabaj

Guatemalan Boys Must Carry Heavy Loads

The young boy is probably ten years old despite how small he appears.  To help with the family’s main source of food, he carries huge loads of corn from the field which his father has just harvested.  His physical body usually can’t hold up with strain of this hard labor and his chances of full development are slim.  It is literally child labor.  Through our health programs, the local social workers must teach the parents the damage they are imposing upon their children.

Boy Carrying Load

Guatemalan Men Carry Heavy Loads.

You simply cannot go anywhere in Guatemala without seeing men hunched over carrying something on their backs which, more than not, weighs more than they do.  They are experts at managing their loads.  Rarely do they fall or drop their loads, and they generally move fast.  The most common load is wood for their indoor cooking fires.  Because of the high need for firewood, the men spend most of their time bringing wood home, so they can’t get gainful employment. (Solution: ONIL Stove)

Man Carrying Wood