Saturday, November 26, 2011

This family consists of an aunt and uncle who are caring for the youngest of four orphans and the three older children live nearby with a different aunt and uncle and a set of grandparents. The relationship between the two households seems strained as both households wish to raise the three older children. When the children were first orphaned they said they could only keep the children if they could receive help to feed them. A small group of donors have given $200 a month for the past two years but as time goes on that support has been more difficult to come by. This family needs continued monthly food donations. Additionally they need assistance in order to secure the deed to their house.

The Children
Ricardo, 14, was born February 5, 1998. His student number is 1464 and he will be in the 7th grade in 2012.

Juana Isabel, 11, was born May 12, 2000. Her student number is 1110 and she will be in the 5thgrade in 2012.
Victor Hugo, 9, was born September 11, 2002. His student number is 1114 and he will be in 3rd grade in 2012.
Leonardo is 3 years old. His birthday is December 5, 2008.

Their Family
The aunt and uncle who are caring for Leonardo came to the interview along with the three younger children; Ricardo was working. The uncle, Miguel, age 51, is the orphaned children’s father’s brother. His wife, Rosa is 52 years old. He was wearing traditional clothes and his shirt was threadbare all over. I could see the note he was keeping in his front pocket, through the strands. He was the primary talker for the family and had animated hand motions. Rosa tended to the children but would chime in to add information. They seem to have a very good relationship and exchanged tender glances during the interview. Miguel works for a farm cooperative and Rosa stays home to care for the home and Leonardo.
First, a recounting of how the children became orphaned: The mother’s feet began to swell following the birth of Leonardo. She didn’t go to a ‘proper doctor’; the one she saw said that she had cancer and there was no treatment. She died when Leonardo was four months with no other medical care. After her death, the father became depressed. He had a hard time caring for the baby and asked his brother and sister-in-law to take the baby. They have been raising Leonardo ever since. Eventually the father got sick and heard there was a natural healer in San Tiago that could help him. While traveling to see the healer, he was in an accident and died.
The three older children were sent to live in the home where the grandparents and a different uncle and aunt live. Miguel and Rosa wish to raise all four children and say they don’t think the older children are being cared for properly. They say Isabel is the cook for the whole family and she has to deliver the milk from the cows before she goes to school and that Ricardo works outside of the house. Miguel says the older children are doing alright because he checks in on them frequently. Rosa says the children often come to her very hungry asking for food and she provides meals or snacks for them as often as she is able. Mayan Families plans to have further interviews with everyone involved to better understand the situation.
Miguel and Rosa have five other children, ages 25 to 18. They would like to legally adopt Leonardo, but they don’t know how since both his parents have died. They say that in their eyes, though, he is their son and they will give him a piece of land when they die, the same as what they will give to their biological children. If they should be able to raise the other three children they would also receive the same inheritance. The family they are currently with, though, doesn’t want them to leave.

Their House
When the father was depressed after his wife died, a couple who is related to the father asked him to mortgage the deed to his house to give them money to send their son to the United States. Miguel and Rosa now need to pay about $750 to get back the deed to the house. They want to get the deed so they can transfer the property into the children’s names. If they don’t pay the money, they will eventually lose the right to keep the house. When MF visited the house after the father died, they did not tell MF about the problem with the deed because the family that convinced the father to turn over the deed was visiting at the same time.

The house without the deed is the one that Miguel, Rosa and Leonardo are living in. The house is in poor condition. The roof is made of lamina and it leaks badly. They have electricity, running water, a pila and chickens. They do not have a water filter and the bed they all share does not have a mattress. In December 2011 they received a new mattress for the bed they all share and a new water filter.  They lack sufficient blankets.
The family for the older children does have a water filter and the children have beds and mattresses given from donors.
Everyone is healthy except Victor has a painful toothache that was making him cry during the interview.
Miguel and Rosa ended the conversation by saying they were very sad that the children were not living together and that if their mother or father were alive, they would be able to be together. Their greatest wish is to be able to raise all four children.
Mayan Families will have another interview with the family to make sure both sides are being heard and the children are in a good situation.
Their Needs

$200/mo   Food donation
$63           Water filter Dec 2011
$50         Mattress for Miguel, Rosa and Leonardo Dec 2011
$750 to obtain the deed to the land and house
Estimate for how much repairs will cost for the house
How to Donate

  • To use PayPal, click the button below to go to Mayan Families' donation page. Enter the donation amount in the Family Aid field. Enter FA159 for the Family Name. Specify the purpose of the donation in the Extra Notes box.

  • To pay by check, include a note specifying FA159 as the recipient and the purpose of the donation. Mail to:
Mayan Families
PO Box 52
Claremont, NC 28610