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.
Dec 3, 2013

2013 in review

Liz with the Panorama sponsored kids
Liz with the Panorama sponsored kids

A very warm hello from Guatemala,

Before we get started with our report on this project let me first say that, today Tuesday 3rd of December, starting at 12.00pm (noon) Eastern Time,Microsoft will be mathcing all donations to us (up to $1,000) by 100%. So just after that time, not before, and no later than 12.30 or 1PM (because the matching funds will eventually run out) please click the donate button for this project and help our education/sponsorship programs get matched well and good!

And, now the report. It’s often difficult to summarize a year in a few short paragraphs. We tend to like to incorporate stories and make it more than just a numbers game J. So we will our best to keep it brief, informative, as well as from the heart.

Our sponsorship program has 2 main objectives. First and foremost, to allow the children to study, as education is the primary focus of Integral Heart Foundation.

But along with that, we strive to create a connection between the sponsor and their sponsor child. The form of help that allows the students to keep studying varies from situation to situation as well as age range. We now have 60 sponsored kids and teens from the ages of 3 up to 21. Generally with the younger ones, the aid is in the form of food and/or school supplies. This helps the family be able to afford for their children to go to school.

The older students, the ones who are studying at a higher level of education; the sponsorship goes directly towards their studies as almost all schools charge a monthly tuition. Without this extra help, these students would not be able to continue studying and pursue their educational goals and dreams. This help, coupled with the Critical-Thinking/Philosophy classes are allowing these adolescent and teenagers to thrive. Most of them are opening their minds and doing very well!

The personal connection comes in the form of notes, cards, and emails. As well as sending updates on the students progress in school with their report cards. And when possible, skype chats to have as close to a face-to-face interaction as possible.

As of the end of this year we have 34 families that have at least one sponsored child, some have two, and some three. Our total number of sponsored children, adolescents, and teenagers is 60. We estimate that the number of family members that are also benefiting from the sponsorship is well over 100. It is hard to get an exact number as often there are numerous members of the extended family living in the same house.

Liz Flinn, our Director of Programs along with her co-worker, Family Liaison, and Guatemalan native, Marisol Hernandez, we stay in touch with the families, get them the supplies when needed, visit their homes regularly, and often are a listening ear for the mountain of struggles that come along with living in poverty. When appropriate we offer counsel, more than anything we try to help them see that they have the power to change things if they so choose.

Additionally, for the first 8 months of this year, we operated a preschool program that served fourteen children. But after the first year of operations we struggled to find new children to attend and as well, to find sufficient funding to keep it open. So at the end of August of this year we had to close the doors. The families were very sad, the parents saw the same improvements in their kids that we did. They were behaving better with other children and at home. They were well nourished and the parents knew that they were in a safe place and well cared for while they were working. Fortunately, we do have at least one sponsor in all the families so we are maintain contact with them and providing them with a monthly food basket.

Liz also spent some time this year getting to know other organizations and exploring partnership opportunities, because right now we don’t have our own facility and so we have been exploring the use of other sites.  We are very grateful to Ixquic Spanish School which has allowed us to use their space for meetings with some of the families as well as provide a weekly place to hold an English class for 2 of our sponsored students and also to Iglesia Del Camino for allowing us to use their space for the CT/Philosophy classes. We also had a donation from a private donor who wanted to show some Charlie Chaplin movies in a soup kitchen for homeless people here in Antigua. The donation was for the use of our projector and was able to help out in our sponsorship program. I will be continuing to seek out partnerships and opportunities to better serve our families.

Thank you so much for all your support and we look forward to a wonderful future,

From the San Andres sponsorsed families
From the San Andres sponsorsed families
The San Mateo moms and grandma!
The San Mateo moms and grandma!


Nov 21, 2013

Angelita's Tutoring Starts in January

JC will be Angelita
JC will be Angelita's tutor in 2014

A huge thanks to you all for the success of this fundraiser for Angelita's tutor!

Angelita just passed the equivalent of her junior high-school level. In 2014 she will begin the next level of her education in the public system here in Guatemala. Thanks to the great response received to this GlobalGiving micro project she will have the extra help needed to overcome the issues she has had with some school topics and she will also gain a step in her self-esteem and self-confidence.

This fundraising effort also gave her a great boost since she knew that we were all standing behind her desire to educate herself and not get caught in the trap so prevalent in Guatemala; that of getting pregnant at 15 or 16 and ending up living a life just like the past generations. With her schooling and tutoring she now has a chance to rise above this culturally conditioned norm.

Juan Carlos, who is in the final year of his training to be a certified Guatemalan high-school level teacher and who is one of the superstarts of our Critical-Thinking/Philosopphy program of the past 3 years will be her tutor. He, too, is very excited about the opportunity of teaching. He will be tutoring Angelita, and two other girls in need from our sponsorship program every Saturday (except holidays of course) in 2014.  

They will begin in January and we already have a location in Antigua, donated by a local Spanish school, where the classes will occur.  Because of your generosity we will be able to provide a location, teaching materials, meals for the teaching days and a salary for the tutor for 2014.

Thank you all for your donations and for empowering Angelita’s future.

Angelita, second left, seen with family & Debora
Angelita, second left, seen with family & Debora


Nov 21, 2013

Growth in Perspectives

The morning class in CT education program
The morning class in CT education program

A warm hello to you,

We have arrived at the end of another school year in Guatemala and with it the end of our Critical-Thinking/Philosophy program. It has been a great ride and as always the end of the year is a bitter sweet moment for all of us. We are very proud of our students for all of their growth and development they have shown but sad because we won’t be seeing them as often as usual until the middle of January.

In the CT module this year we focused mainly on ego, ego development, shadow, and managing ones emotional states, not entirely for personal benefit, but for the sake of the other person(s) with whom we are relating. The kids loved this class and in fact we had 6 new teenagers join, all brought in by referral from their friends!

Since the summer, Debora and Mick, the co-founders have been working on the translation of a book on philosophy written for one of our board members, Jeff Carreira. The book, “Philosophy Is Not a Luxury” became the holiday homework for our 32 students. They were very excited when we gave them the book and many of them began reading it right away in the class as we were assigning them the books.

One of the key areas by which we can measure the impact of this class is in the evidence for shifts in perspectives. In 2013 we challenged our students to write a one-page article titled ‘My Perfect Day’ and then to share that with the class the following week. Many, as you can expect where egocentric, personal experience based narratives. However, two of our student revealed to us by means of their story that their perspective had shifted quite dramatically. Here are their stories;

Miquel who is 21, a 3rd year student of ours, who is also being sponsored by one of our donors to study for a career as a chef. As part of his practical work his class was invited to select an impoverished village to cook for and feed for a day. The village they selected was only reachable by horseback. Miquel described this experience of helping other people as ‘blissful’ and incorporated not only such an event as part of a homework exercise called ‘My Perfect Day’ but also the fact that he saw himself with a worldwide chain of self-sustaining and free restaurants for the poor.

Jenny, 16, is a first year student who was referred to our work from another school after she expressed an interest in learning about philosophy. Also as part of our homework exercise called ‘My Perfect Day’, Jenny, who wishes to study to be a nurse, expressed a wish to open medical clinic for the impoverished throughout the world.

We are also Facebook ‘friends’ with many of our students and a curious way we have found to seek progress is by the content of their posts. For instance, one of our superstar students (an individual who possess the potential and interest to become a junior teacher of this content) recently posted quote from The Little Prince (a course book) and additional quotes from the Greek philosophers and Descartes (his own research and reading).

And finally, we are hosting two special events for our students in the month of December: one of them will be on the 4th and will be a lecture as part of our Wisdom Speakers Series. Amy Edelstein will be visiting us and giving a full day workshop on “Morals, Ethics, Spirit and Changing the World.” On December the 7th our students will also be participating in the event “Meditate to Educate” in which we will be meditating during a 12 hour period in order to raise funds to cover this education program.

Thank you so much for all your support of this project which we are all finding is of great importance for the world in which we live today.

The afternoon class of the CT education program
The afternoon class of the CT education program
The Meditation Marathon scheudule for 2013
The Meditation Marathon scheudule for 2013
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