Our Mission

The Maya Relief Foundation’s Mission is to give time, talents and resources to help poverty-stricken people become self-sufficient.  It is to empower people with the opportunity to work their way out of poverty, to improve  their health, and to insure a better future for their children and their communities.

The logo portrays the  Maya glyph called the “day sign.”  The Maya man with the day glyph being carried on his back is burdened down with what he must do with the important responsibility he carries–the day.  Around the edge of the logo are the Maya calendar day glyphs for the 20 days of their month.  This glyph was chosen as a motivator to utilize each “day” to help lift the burdens carried on the backs of the Maya, or any of the poverty stricken of the world.

The GIFT of being able to Breath without Smoke…

Smoke Filled Room

One Guatemalan couple with three small children worried because their baby boy and their youngest little daughter both had constant coughs and constant congestion. Respiratory problems are so common in Guatemala. The parents tried moving their open fire into a different area from where the children slept. They saw a doctor, a very drastic and expense step for them. But with all their efforts, they saw no improvement and the coughing continued. Finally they heard about the Eko stove and got one for their modest home. Almost immediately after they put in the stove, the children stopped coughing. Their health improved and the parents realized that the smoke and toxic gases from the open fire had been causing the respiratory problems. With the Eko-stove the smoke filling the air inside their house was removed completely along with the toxic gases. As soon as the children’s lungs could catch a clean breath of air, they began to clear up. The coughing has stopped and the children have more energy and are growing physically as they should. Ironically the mother now has her stove right in the room where they sleep, eat and live. Now she can cook and tend to the children at the same time. Her children have no more coughs and are thriving.

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)

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: Eko-Stove)

Burdens

David Wilhelm trying to make tortillas like the Mayan Women

Here David Wilhelm, a very accomplished and successful businessman and high-end real estate developer, tries to master the art of making tortillas by hand.  He quickly discovers it is harder than it looks.  The women enjoy his attempts and appreciate the visit during their moments of need.  The stoves help lift their burdens as they had lost their homes and many, if not all, had lost some of their family members from Hurricane Stan. 

Making Tortillas

Increase yield of corn

Corn with Man

The GIFT of being able to Breath without Smoke…

Smoke Filled Room

One Guatemalan couple with three small children worried because their baby boy and their youngest little daughter both had constant coughs and constant congestion. Respiratory problems are so common in Guatemala. The parents tried moving their open fire into a different area from where the children slept. They saw a doctor, a very drastic and expense step for them. But with all their efforts, they saw no improvement and the coughing continued. Finally they heard about the Eko stove and got one for their modest home. Almost immediately after they put in the stove, the children stopped coughing. Their health improved and the parents realized that the smoke and toxic gases from the open fire had been causing the respiratory problems. With the Eko-stove the smoke filling the air inside their house was removed completely along with the toxic gases. As soon as the children’s lungs could catch a clean breath of air, they began to clear up. The coughing has stopped and the children have more energy and are growing physically as they should. Ironically the mother now has her stove right in the room where they sleep, eat and live. Now she can cook and tend to the children at the same time. Her children have no more coughs and are thriving.

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)

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: Eko-Stove)

Burdens

David Wilhelm trying to make tortillas like the Mayan Women

Here David Wilhelm, a very accomplished and successful businessman and high-end real estate developer, tries to master the art of making tortillas by hand.  He quickly discovers it is harder than it looks.  The women enjoy his attempts and appreciate the visit during their moments of need.  The stoves help lift their burdens as they had lost their homes and many, if not all, had lost some of their family members from Hurricane Stan. 

Making Tortillas

Increase yield of corn

Corn with Man