Integral Heart Foundation

Our mission is to change culture from the inside out through person-to-person sponsoring and educational programs that include the development of mind, body, spirit and emotions. We see our work as the beginning of a multi-generational movement whose leaders are empowered to preserve cultural beauty and diversity and to embrace personal responsibility in a global context.
Sep 4, 2015

Profile of an Integral Heart Family

The Archila Family
The Archila Family

THE ARCHILLA FAMILY

We met the Archila family early in 2011. They live in a charming area only five miles from Antigua called “Bella Vista” (Beautiful View). It is indeed beautiful but also a very isolated community. For a location that is so close to the UNESCO city of Antigua Guatemala, transportation and communication are not easy. Work opportunities are non-existent and most of the people have to travel to Antigua or to Guatemala City. This means getting up at four o'clock in the morning to get a bus to go to work and not getting home until after seven in the evening.

For instance, this family’s father has to work in Guatemala city as a mason’s assistant and he earns about 200USD per month. His wife takes care of the house, their seven children and sometimes she works in the local agricultural cooperative earning about 50USD every two weeks at harvest times.

This is a lovely family and the parents really wanted their children to study so that they would not have to endure the same kind of life that they have. But, with such small salaries, much of which is spent on transportation and food, their hopes for giving their children an education were never bright. But they didn’t give up.

When they learned about the Integral Heart Foundation through one of our former partners in the area, they were willing and happy to open the door of their home to us. It is a very charming block house that the father built with his own hands, little by little when he had some extra cash. Humble but homely. In the beginning, they only had an adobe hut without running water or a sewage system and just one light bulb.

From the moment we met them we started to look for, and evenually found, sponsors for their children. This opened the possibility of buying uniforms, school materials, shoes and paying the required monthly tuitions. This family is now also benefiting from a double monthly food and home provisions basket.

As part of our sponsorship program three of the kids are currently attending our critical thinking (CT) classes provided weekly by the co-Founders of the Integral Heart Foundation and also our Saturday morning tutoring class. This is a program run by the Integral Heart Foundation that is being taught by one of our senior CT students who is also a certified teacher. In this class they work on their homework and performance at regular school.

The kids are happy and doing great. The eldest one, Conal, is studying to be an architect and the second oldest one, Sonia, is studying to be a chef. The others are in various levels of high school. The parents told us how grateful they are for this possibility of learning and study. They knew they wanted it for their kids but never thought it would be possible.

There are other connections we make that are important to progress. The family had the chance to meet two of their sponsors and to welcome them in their home. On one occasion when Andy, the sponsor of Conal, went to their home, he donated a solar unit so they could have their privacy and light for doing their homework.


Please see pictures below of this amazing family and children and our big thanks to all of you who are making this possible.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you very much!

Sponsor Andy (l) visiting Conal at CT class
Sponsor Andy (l) visiting Conal at CT class
The young ones
The young ones
Anabella visiting
Anabella visiting
Sep 4, 2015

EDUCATION - A PATH TO INDEPENDENCE

Felipe
Felipe

FELIPE'S STORY

Felipe was born into the mountainside slum of Vista Hermosa overlooking the UNESCO city of La Antigua Guatemala. His life was rough. In his hometown The weather brings water shortages and then landslides, the streets offer the constant allure of drugs, violence and gangs.

But as we all know, education is the key to taking control of your future, and this is especially true for Felipe.

“I was angry, angry at life, at my parents, at myself and somehow that anger is what kept me safe. I could protect myself, as I always used to say in those days, punch first ask questions after. I became tough-boy.

Felipe’s father left them young, and as is a cultural norm in those forgotten areas of Guatemala, set his new family in the same slum on a pedestal far higher than his first, especially in Felipe’s case. “I hated my dad for telling me how well my ‘other’ brother was doing all the time – did he not see me?” With his mom overwhelmed with work and his younger siblings, Felipe fell behind in his schooling and eventually got suspended.

Luckily, at the base of the mountainside slum there was a non-profit school for kids is such challenging positions. That is where we met Felipe in 2010. A showoff, a rebel, a bully by need, who certainly showed potential, but could not seem to get himself out of his own way.

We were offering a philosophy class at this school, and it soon became clear that Felipe, amongst others, had great interest, potential and a love of wisdom. So, working together over the following two years we made every effort to allow his inherent desire to learn to poke its head around his macho, funny-man persona.

We found Felipe a sponsor to help with his education after he graduated high-school. He seemed unusually appreciative of this, as did his mom, since part of the education sponsorship also includes a dignified monthly food basket for the family. “I can’t believe someone I hardly know is paying for my studies” he said.

In 2011 we were lucky enough to be able to start our own foundation. As part of that formation we created a weekly Critical-Thinking / Philosophy class for all of our sponsored teenagers.

In the second year of these classes we spent the entire year working on a module called Ego/Shadow. This is where we learned the true meaning for Felipe of what he had told us years earlier “… punch first, ask questions after”. His base emotion, anger, rode prominently on his knuckles and the whole world was paying for his suffering, and as he later realized, so was he.

The Ego/Shadow module is based in part of Freudian and Jungian theory of unconscious drives, yet it adds the power to access and allow the expression of particular aspects of the self (such as authentic and shadow anger) using a process developed by a Zen Master. Felipe’s comment: “It calms me down, it helps me think more clearly, it makes me a better man.”

Of course we played games with the class to help them get their minds around this complexity. The outcome for Felipe was that after about six months in this class, he was beginning to identify emotions as they arose and he could ask himself whether they were his own shadow, or if they were authentic. “This is huge!”

Then he told us a story about a kid in this technical drawing class; “The teacher was scolding him, the whole class was behind the teacher, and the kid was mortified yet I noticed I felt compassion and sorrow… this was the first time in my whole life where I noticed I did not run with the crowd and become the unconscious condemner. I was shocked to see the Ego/Shadow process working inside me. It really helped me take the perspective of this poor kid, I felt sorry for him, even though there was nothing I could do for him.”

Felipe continued to attend our classes and as his macho persona softened to reveal a young man of great humility. We were offered the opportunity to start a full time, three-year, teaching-training for six of our top students. We had seven to pick from, one of whom was Felipe. But during the qualifying presentations, Felipe slipped back a little into his old ways and heckled two of the other students as they were speaking. “I assumed since I was a senior student that I would get one of the places”, he later told us.

We decided that, though his heart was in the right place, he was not suitable for this long-term program. When we told him he was devastated, and he cried right in front of us, the rebel melting in the face of opportunity lost.

However, just before the kick off date, one of the other boys we selected had to move away to the south of the country so we had an opening… this was one more shot for Felipe. Needless to say, he was overjoyed, and once again, cried, yet this time, tears of joy and potential rolled down his cheeks.

Fast forward to mid-2015, Felipe is now four months into the full time, three-year, teaching-training. He is excelling, as are his peers, with the Russian classics, the history of Guatemala, philosophy, Spanish, English, and in his work with our part-time staff psychologist. He graduated with a technical drawing diploma. Felipe now holds his head high, a confident young man, who knows that potential, when seen and cultivated, can be grown and harvested for the great benefit of his fellow countrymen and women.

He still lives with his mom in that slum. He carries pepper spray and has learned to channel that fountain of energy into kickboxing and soccer. And it’s been over two years since he came to class with a bruise.

We expect him to be a great teacher and a powerful living example of transformation.

Felipe
Felipe's Graduation 2014
May 27, 2015

Angelita's Story - 5 Years of Progress

Angelita
Angelita

Dear Sustaining Sponsors and Supporters,

In this report we’d like to share the story of the first sponsored child of the Integral Heart Foundation.

5 years ago this month we had the privilege of making this first heart-connection.

This child, who is not so much a child any more is still an active participant in our programs and she has also become one of our great hopes simply because of her amazing progress over her years of sponsorship.

We want to appreciate the effort of all who have made this possible by believing in Angelita and in our programs. This is just one of the many stories of success because of you and since Angelita was the first sponsored student we wanted to honor her and all of you by following her evolution.

Thank you all and we hope you enjoy this report as much as we did in making it for you.

(The descriptions are for each of the photos that appear below.)


Pictures 1, 2 and 3 are from the first visit to Angelita’s home when she was only 9 years old. We went there with her first sponsor, Eva. It was also our first time meeting her mother and also her sisters. Back then her mother was living with the father of Angelita’s sisters but the situation at home with him wasn’t the best and the mother finally decided to separate from him. Even if the house is really humble, at least the mother is the deeded property owner which means she doesn’t have to pay rent or a mortgage which is a great advantage.

Picture 4 is a perspective of the mountain-side neighborhood (slum) where they live.

Picture 5: Angelita and her family were also our first solar beneficiary. That was their first light ever, before this they only had candles.

Picture 6 shows Angelita opening a box of gifts brought for her by her sponsor.

Picture 7 a photo from a shopping trip to buy school uniforms, shoes and other school materials that the kids needed. As usual, Angelita being sweet and grateful for all.

Picture 8 taken during a home visit, in which we discovered that Angelita was sick and with fever. In the picture Debora is taking care of her.

In Picture 9 Angelita and her first communion dress. She was thrilled.

Picture 10 was taken during a trip we made to her home because we needed video and photos to request extra help from our network of supporters so that she could continue her studies. The level of education in Guatemala is not the best and oftentimes the students do not get the attention they need to learn. With your support we could afford to have one of our senior sponsored students (a trained teacher) direct a study session on Saturday mornings to help her with her homework. That program is still running and today we have more than ten students attending every Saturday.

Picture 11: Angelita with all her family during the Christmas party celebrated by the Integral Heart Foundation where they received extra food baskets, chickens and toys.

Picture 12 we can see Angelita reading during the Saturday study classes that now she shares with other students from the IHF project.

Picture 13 Angelita celebrating her 14th birthday with cake and soda from all of you!

Picture 14 Angelita responding to a question during one of our weekly Critical-Thinking classes.

Pictures 15 and 16 were taken by Angelita herself. They are her perspective on her home and sisters. This opportunity was given to her by two participants in our Wisdom Speakers Series who came to the class to give a talk and gave her a camera so that we could see the world through her eyes.

We know that Angelita will keep growing and evolving because she has the potential, interest, and discipline and she has the help of you, our dear sponsors.

For that, we are very grateful.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Picture 17: The next step is to improve her living situation. This family of four currently live in a one-roomed wood framed house with a tin roof. Since her mom owns the property we’d like to build them at least a two-roomed block house and to also enclose the cooking/washing area and bathroom which is currently open to the elements.

If you’d like to hear more about this building project please just reply to this newsletter.

Thank you so much,

Angelita and The Integral Heart Foundation.

Picture 1 - April 2010
Picture 1 - April 2010
Picture 2 - April 2010
Picture 2 - April 2010
Picture 3 - April 2010
Picture 3 - April 2010
Picture 4 - April 2010
Picture 4 - April 2010
Picture 5 - September 2010
Picture 5 - September 2010
Picture 6 - January 2011
Picture 6 - January 2011
Picture 7 - March 2011
Picture 7 - March 2011
Picture 8 - June 2011
Picture 8 - June 2011
Picture 9 - December 2012
Picture 9 - December 2012
Picture 10 - July 2013
Picture 10 - July 2013
Picture 11 - December 2013
Picture 11 - December 2013
Picture 12 - September 2014
Picture 12 - September 2014
Picture 13 - March 2015
Picture 13 - March 2015
Picture 14 - May 2015
Picture 14 - May 2015
Picture 15 - May 2015
Picture 15 - May 2015
Picture 16 - May 2015
Picture 16 - May 2015
Picture 17
Picture 17

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