2020 Impact Report

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Everyone has the right to education, health and economic development opportunities. But access to these rights is not always equal, particularly for Indigenous communities in Guatemala facing systemic barriers. We believe in equal opportunity to education, health and economic development, with the Mayan community driving community solutions and leading our efforts to facilitate access. Mayan Families works in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala to implement community-led programs, coupled with well-researched international best practices, which address systemic barriers and build cultural strength and resilience.




Advancing education, nutrition & health and economic development, through community-led initiatives which build on existing resources and knowledge.

Mayan communities in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala are strong, vibrant and self-sufficient.


Values Cooperation – We work as a kind, effective and supportive team and in collaboration with the communities we serve. Integrity – We act honestly and ethically, thereby earning the trust and confidence of both communities and supporters. Transparency – Our processes and use of resources are reasonable, justified and clearly communicated. Respect – We treat all people kindly and fairly, with dignity and empathy. Humility – We recognize our role as facilitators, centering and valuing local expertise. We evolve based on constant learning and selfimprovement. Accountability – We thoughtfully and responsibly manage our resources to ensure both efficient use and intentional impact. Reciprocity – We believe in dignified, equitable relationships with the community that we serve, promoting agency, active participation and service to others. MAYAN FAMILIES 2020 IMPACT REPORT


Message from our Executive Director May we never return to ‘normal’

Through a difficult 2020, some things became strikingly clear. While we have always known that Mayan Families’ work is critical for the families that we are honored to partner with in Guatemala, the COVID-19 pandemic brought some deeper truths to the forefront. Most importantly, that structural problems require systemic and holistic solutions.


As COVID hit in early 2020, we were able to consider more deeply the impact of our work and the needs and strengths in the community as we developed our Strategic Plan for the next five years: we need to reach farther into community-level, systemic work, guided by local Indigenous leadership. As the economy in Guatemala shut down due to the pandemic, the issue of malnutrition came into clear focus. Before COVID, malnutrition was already an emergency, with 60% of Indigenous children in Guatemala chronically malnourished. COVID has only made it more critical. At the same time that Mayan Families delivered 4,345 packages of food to families in critical need in 2020, we began working with community leaders and nutritional experts to address long-term food security and economic development opportunities to increase access to new markets, food sources, and opportunities beyond the next crisis.


In our Scholarship Program, we are working to improve the impact on the 1378 students by including additional mentoring, workshops, and leadership development for them and their families, and we must simultaneously impact the quality of education available to all children in the communities where we work. Education, nutrition and economic development underpin all of our work, and our expertise and capacity in those issues are key to making positive, long-term change, allowing families to thrive here in Guatemala. The majority of minors traveling alone to the US border at this moment are from Guatemala, and our work is the root of prevention.

A small monthly contribution to our work makes you a vital part of sustaining critical programming here. We couldn’t do it without our incredible donors and partners in this work. Centering Maya leadership and community solutions, coming together we can systemically solve the complex problems which affect us all. 2020 was a difficult year but I am deeply proud of our accomplishments and our continued evolution towards more impactful work than ever before. With much gratitude, Erin Mooney Executive Director

My hope moving forward is that we never return to ‘normal’: that we use the perspective of the pandemic for greater good, understanding our interconnectedness as a tool for uniting in small and larger actions to create great and needed change.



Message from our Director of Programs 2020 was a year of challenges and learning for Mayan Families. We managed to build our resilience during a difficult time for the Maya communities in Sololá and for the entire world. In building this resilience, we implemented significant changes in our programs so that they are more impactful to our partner communities as a whole. Aligning our actions with the communities’ visions has allowed us to establish strong roots for our programs. We have centered our actions to empower partner communities in the three key pillars of Education, Nutrition & Health, and Economic Development, directed through eight different programs.



Throughout the process of developing our new Strategic Plan, we recognized the importance of supporting communities’ voices and empowering them to express their needs. Involving communities is vital in order to create holistic programming, which is being achieved through closer communication with community leaders and program participants, creating strong partnerships with them to work together towards sustainable community development. 2021 will be a dynamic and exciting year for Mayan Families: a year of hope, awareness, appreciation, and most importantly of unification so that our donors, Board of Directors, communities and staff team work towards the same community vision.

We hope that you are a light and an ally along our way. Best wishes, Elizabeth Pérez Director of Programs



Priorities for 2020

Strategic planning for the next five years. Restructuring our programs around long-term, sustainable impact. Centering community voices, Indigenous leadership and Maya culture.

Adapting to Covid 19: Keeping staff and communities safe Meeting heightened need in communities through extra support: delivering emergency food, giving training and resources for at-home education, preparing and selling artisan masks Maintaining funding for key work



Nutrition & Health

2020 Highlights 36 4345 1

5-year strategic published


Children provided with ongoing malnutrition treatment Food packages communities




Elderly people received regular medical checks and food support


Families benefited from Mayan Families’ programs


People treated in our medical clinic


Community projects carried out


Families received water filters and eco-stoves


Construction projects completed

Education 1378

85 15

Economic Development

Students supported through our Scholarship Program


Artisans and sewers provided with income through masks and product orders

Preschool students received nutrition and at-home learning support


Women received microcredit support

Students received extra at-home Tutoring support



Masks made to keep donors and communities safe


Nutrition & Health Even before the global pandemic arrived in Guatemala, the country had the highest rates of chronic malnutrition in Latin America and the third highest on a global level. During 2020, these malnutrition rates are likely to have increased; in order to prevent the spread of COVID, the government shut down the country which worsened already limited possibilities for people to make a livelihood and access healthy food, as well as further limited access to public health services.

As a department, we adapt to any unforeseen social or climatic changes responding to each community’s contextual needs. We are ready to take the opportunity in 2021 to address the unexpected challenges posed by the pandemic in 2020. Nutrition & Health Team

This is why we focus our work on promoting universal access to basic nutrition and medical services for families at higher risk of malnutrition, based on respect for the culture and customs of each community. The integration of Maya health practitioners into our medical care processes is very important to us in promoting preventive and inclusive health care.



2020 Summary of Nutrition & Health Adapting our food support program to provide 569 families with monthly food packages for five months, during the early stage of the COVID outbreak. Identifying severe cases of malnutrition, and providing personalized medical and nutritional support in five communities. Writing curriculum for our nutrition and health workshops and training. Medical and nutritional care for the elderly in Santa Maria el Tablón. Providing basic personal protection equipment to Maya leaders and health practitioners.



Impact Story from Our Malnutrition Work Jonathan is 20 months old and from the small rural community of Peña Blanca. He is the third child of a family with limited economic resources; his parents work hard for little pay in agriculture. His case was referred to our Nutrition & Health team due to severe stomach bloating and stunted growth. The case was handled by Mayan Families through a nutritionalmedical check up and routine laboratory tests. Following the evaluation, he was diagnosed with anemia and as having a developmental delay. Thanks to monitoring and treatment by Mayan Families and his parents, Jonathan’s stomach bloating is improving and he is advancing with the appropriate psychomotor development for his age.

"The Mayan Families team checked my baby and realized that his health was not normal. They referred me for tests and examinations... Thanks to all the help, my son is now improving in health, he is more active, starting to smile and move by himself, which he never did before.” - Norma Angélica, mother of Jonathan



Nutrition & Health Priorities for 2021 Advance with providing comprehensive preventive health care to the most vulnerable populations (the elderly, children under 5 and pregnant women). Deepen our work to prevent child malnutrition from pregnancy. Strengthen institutional and community relationships to provide medical services which are centered on Mayan medicine.



Education For many families in Guatemala, education is a dream with many barriers in its path. Economic limitations in rural communities force families to deprioritize education; not because they see it as unimportant, but because it is too expensive for them. Added to this barrier is the lack of geographic coverage for early education, and the lack of quality education where each student gets individualized attention from their teacher. In 2020, the Education Department focused on reducing these barriers by adapting to the COVID-19 restrictions. We paid students’ tuition fees directly to schools, since many families lost their sources of income. We provided nutritional and educational support to preschool children to help with their integration into the mainstream educational system, and continue to ensure the children's nutritional requirements were met.


In addition, we gave extra tutoring to students struggling with schoolwork in each community. We are looking forward to 2021 as an opportunity to continue improving other educational aspects. We are particularly working on changes to our Scholarship Program in order to make it more efficient and effective, incorporating and valuing the feedback provided by families. There is much more to do to strengthen public education in our communities, and we look forward to deepening the impact of our work. Education Team


2020 Summary of Education Paying tuition fees directly to schools. Decentralizing operations, travelling to communities to continue supporting scholarship students during the COVID restrictions. Cash transfers instead of reimbursements, in order to cover tuition and other educational needs while reducing barriers and travel for families and administration costs. Tutoring support to students struggling with learning at home. Nutritional and educational support for preschool children and their parents, adapted to learning at home.



Impact Story from Our Education Work Since he was a child, Anderson remembers his parents working hard, and yet there was still not enough money to cover their expenses. The lack of economic opportunities made Anderson's father decide to leave home and emigrate to the United States. None of his four attempts to migrate were successful. The family’s financial problems were exacerbated by the debts incurred from each migration attempt, and with his father in immigration detention, Anderson's mother was forced to take her youngest daughter and start the journey to the United States to find opportunities to make a living. After being deported to Guatemala, Anderson's father refused to contribute to his family's expenses and debts, and is no longer in contact. Anderson's maternal grandmother has taken responsibility for him, trying to provide him with what he needs to survive while his mother attempts to pay for the inherited debts and not lose the mortgaged deeds to the family home.


His grandmother has done everything she can to keep Anderson in school, enrolling him in Mayan Families’ Scholarship Program in order to provide Anderson with an education which gives him more opportunities in the future. Through the support of the Scholarship Program, Anderson is now studying in 8th grade and aspiring to continue with his education for as long as he can.

"My father forgot about the debt and us... it is thanks to my scholarship with Mayan Families that I have been able to keep going with my studies. Today, I am proud to be in 8th grade." MAYAN FAMILIES 2020 IMPACT REPORT

Education Priorities for 2021 Change the economic support provided to a conditional cash transfer process based on the 2020 pilot, simultaneously expanding the support offered to scholarship recipients. Train parents to have the tools and knowledge necessary to support their children's education from home when in-person classes are not being held. Make our educational programs more accessible and relevant in communities.



Economic Development The vision of the Economic Development department is that families have a better quality of life. To achieve this, we continued to work with the communities in 2020 despite the complications caused by the pandemic. The communities faced multiple complications to maintain work, including lack of transportation and not being able to obtain raw materials. We continued to grow our artisan product sales to provide income to families from home, adapted to the context through developing and selling masks with our graduated sewing school students, and used technology to maintain communication with the artisans, which was a big challenge for everyone.

We know that we have to continue the work that we are doing with rural communities for there to be opportunities to generate income, which is essential to overcome the barriers to economic development. If before the pandemic families suffered from a range of problems, these have now multiplied. Many families lost their jobs and income; we now have a vital opportunity to support them in overcoming this obstacle. Economic Development Team

In 2021, we are restructuring the department internally and externally to improve and increase our services according to the needs expressed by the communities.



2020 Summary of Economic Development Adapting our work with artisans to use technology (smartphones and internet). 31 artisans reached through the Artisan program, and 9 students through the Trade Schools program. $831 average yearly income earned per artisan or student. Increasing sales via our online Etsy store and wholesale orders. 21,083 masks sold, directly benefiting our artisan partners.



Impact Story from Our Artisan Work Vilma graduated from our Sewing classes in 2019. Like many women in her community, she was left without a job or income due to the pandemic, and she struggled to make ends meet. It was a big surprise for Vilma and her family when Mayan Families invited them to make masks. Not only did it help them generate necessary income at a very difficult time, it kept them busy and allowed them to continue improving their skills. "The fact that Mayan Families provided us with work and materials when we could not leave the communities was a great help. We were able to avoid putting ourselves at risk and could work comfortably from our homes. We are so grateful to have received support in these critical times and to have the opportunity to continue learning." - Vilma



Economic Development Priorities for 2021 Undertake a needs assessment across our partner communities to understand the changes in needs due to the pandemic, and then be able to provide the most relevant technical training and skills. Strengthen product development and sales channels, search for new customers and increase sales. Start a process of strengthening entrepreneurship at the community level.



Income & Expenditure Mayan Families has the responsibility to ensure that we are excellent stewards of our funds and that we manage our resources and assets with the highest level of efficiency, professionalism and ethics. We have taken a direct and transparent route to prioritize the building of the strongest financial systems possible, with high-level expertise, multiple checks, balances, transparency and oversight at every level, to ensure funds are maximized for community impact.

Total expenditure: $916,874



Income Sources Mayan Families is generously supported by thousands of individual donors and institutional partners who make our work possible. We are also incredibly grateful for and acknowledge the numerous in-kind donations, volunteers who have given us their time, and community members who have invested countless hours supporting our projects, facilitating community relationships and strengthening our vision.

Total income: $1,232,719



Message & Appreciation to the Community Mayan Families’ programs center the knowledge, resources and capacities already in place in the communities where we work, particularly the cultural and social values, which make the biggest contribution.

In the last year, we have strengthened our presence in communities through constant communication and coordination, thanks to a strong Community Relations team specialized in forming strong community partnerships.

This has made it possible to listen closely to the needs of each community and look for holistic solutions together, so that our work is more effective and impactful, assuring it is wanted, needed, created and owned by community. In 2020, community leaders were an essential pillar to understanding the community context, mediating, facilitating processes and



strengthening communities’ trust towards Mayan Families. With their support, we have redefined our vision as being a joint effort to identify needs and participants through a rigorous selection and prioritization process, sharing information and responsibility for the implementation of the programs in each community. Our challenge for 2021 is to work with the population to generate sustainable programs which promote leadership and empowerment, thereby reducing the impact of the current assistance being given in communities. We want there to be true reciprocity, where our program participants can pay forward the support they are receiving to contribute to the development of their communities. We will achieve a greater impact working with the support of our partner families, community leaders and local authorities, who will continue to be our strongest and most important allies in our journey as an organization.



Our Donors Where do our funds come from? Running our programs is made possible through generous donations from a combination of individuals, groups, clubs, organizations, corporations and foundations. In addition to our regular monthly giving options, we hold specific fundraising campaigns throughout the year to strengthen specific departments and program areas. At the end of 2020, we launched a more comprehensive grants program than ever before and we are excited to see this strengthen our income foundations. Thank you! Without the incredible support of our loyal donors and collaborators we could not carry out our work. A heartfelt thank you from everyone at Mayan Families. We cannot overstate the impact that your belief in our work and your donations have on improving the lives of many families in the Lake Atitlán region.


While we are so proud of this impact, there is still much more work to be done to ensure that families and communities have access to basic services and the systems and infrastructure in which to thrive. Only with your continued support, financial or otherwise, can our truly impactful work continue to reach where it is most needed. What is the best way to support us? Make regular general donations. It really is that simple. The most efficient and effective gift that you can give to Mayan Families is to donate each month to our general fund. This allows our staff and program teams to develop our programs and plan activities in the most comprehensive, sustainable and cost-effective way, based on community needs.


How else can you support us? You could choose a specific department to support and make regular donations to that department. This still allows our staff a great deal of flexibility, but with a focus on the issues and programs that you care most about. If you’re looking for other ways to support us, then get in touch with our partnerships and fundraising team (fundraising@mayanfamilies.org). We have lots of resources and ideas for ambassadors to share Mayan Families’ work with friends, family and colleagues, making a huge impact with fun, easy activities. We’d love to hear about any ideas of your own that you may have too! It’s at least worth us having a chat, right?



Message from the Board of Directors On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to offer my most sincere gratitude to everyone that supported our work in 2020: community leaders, donors, the management team, and operational staff of Mayan Families, for their contribution and efforts to advance education, nutrition & health, and economic development in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala. It fills me with great honor to sit on Mayan Families’ Board of Directors, as a Guatemalan and as a professional. The Board is committed to continuing to support communityled initiatives which build on existing resources and knowledge, maximizing the efforts made to create sustainable positive impacts.


2020 presented itself as an extremely challenging year: the world was not expecting a global pandemic and the consequences that followed. Nevertheless, our Executive Director and our Indigenous leadership team worked hard to support and listen to local families and communities during this emergency. We are proud to have concluded our strategic planning process, which began in April 2020 and culminated in publishing our Strategic Plan in August, with the emphasis on being a community-centered organization that provides programs which the community itself leads. Alongside supporting the strategic planning process, the Board focused on


improving strong governance, internal risk control, and ethical compliance to achieve the organization’s objectives. Thank you to all of our stakeholders, for trusting us and allowing us to partner with you in building strong, vibrant, and self-sufficient Mayan communities.

A fraternal hug to you all, Guillermo Gonzalez Vice President Board of Directors

Board Members 2021 Bill Dutton Elizabeth Hagee-Zambrano Mark Vorobik Emily Hendrick Hugo Ramirez Nicole Fiorentino Jean Muller Roberto Melendreras Jonquil Bertschi Guillermo González



We are extraordinarily grateful to all supporters and ambassadors of our work. We wish to recognize a group of extremely generous individual donors and partners. Without your support we would not have the impact that we are having in Guatemala.

The Upper Arlington Rotary Club Amy Wendel and LogMeIn Optimist Charles, Patrick and David McCurdy Beth and Jay McFadyen The Miesner Family Paso Por Paso Hands of Healing Ed Nash The Ohio State University Marta Schultz Stephanie Tsuruda and Michael Toppel Gayle Turner The Wilson Sheehan Foundation George Cook Amgen Foundation John & Terry Ruark Stein mayanfamilies.org mayanfamilies Mayan Families

Leslie Roberts Cara & Dr. Steve Hewett Catherine Reyes Aldea Maya Mark Vorobik Mary Leanne Cox Kimberly Bares Melinda Jumper The Swiss Embassy in Guatemala Michael Adams Deborah & Brad Fackler Michelle Schultz Santa Barbara Rotary Club Natalie Taylor Debouvry Robert & Frank Sauerland Susan Cheever Wendy Worthen

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