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.
May 27, 2015

Empowerment

Co-founders with the six selected students
Co-founders with the six selected students

This year has brought us all much great news!

And this is because, after years of dreaming and planning, we secured the funding for six of our brightest and most dedicated Critical-Thinking/Philosophy students to enter into a full time, 3-year teacher-training program.

These six, who range in age from 17-21, Juan Carlos, Jessica, Saul, Shirley, Felipe and Gabi, have been attending our programs for five years, have also been exposed to the topics of the Critical-Thinking program which include classic philosophy, meditation, world religions, politics and activism, sexuality, ego and shadow, self-esteem and self-love, suicide, depression, values, decision making, Integral Theory, and Zen.

They were also exposed to our Wisdom Speakers Series. These are talks given by invited guests who are experts in development, mindfulness, meditation, business, relationships and other walks in life.

And this year, as part of their entry qualification to the 3-year teacher-training program it was the turn of these six to get up in front of the class and give a talk. They had to develop their own theme, plan the timing for their talk, and manage the group. They studied, investigated, and researched in preparation.

The subjects they chose should make us all proud. They included; motivation, potential, respect and self-respect, relationships, conditioned habits, shadow, the many manifestations of love and the theological, philosophical and scientific perspectives on the Big Bang and the origin of the universe.

The students told us afterwards that felt truly felt empowered by this opportunity and they all were happy that did a great job. The audience also gained a great deal of benefit.

But mostly they said that they were comfortable with their topics and they are all eager to continue with their new course of studies so that they can develop themselves sufficiently to face and address the many painful issues facing their homeland today.

We, at the Integral Heart Foundation, couldn’t be more proud of them and of course of all of you who are making change, evolution and a better world possible.

Thank you.

 

These are the descriptions of photos that appear below:

Pictures 1 and 2: Juan Carlos giving his class on self esteem and respect.

Picture 3 and 4: Gabi speaking about relationships, values and the many manifestations of love.

Picture 5: Shirley with her mom and our social worker Marisol, discussing with us her talk on motivation and how she was going to let it develop.

Picture 6: Saul giving a talk on shadow and conditioned habits.

Picture 7: Felipe giving a talk on the theological, philosophical and scientific perspectives on the Big Bang and the origin of the universe.

Picture 8: Jessica giving a talk on potential and how, in most cases, we are the ones who set the limits.

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Feb 26, 2015

Sponsoring Dignity

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See description for Photo 1

We here at The Integral Heart Foundation are excited to begin a new year full of surprises, adventures, new students and opportunities. We are thrilled with you, our sustaining sponsors who have trusted to support us for over four years now and the newest sponsors who have joined our great heart family.

Just last week, we had the honor of a visit of board member and sponsor Patrick Goonan. As part of Pat's tour of our work we visited the home of one of the little girls he is sponsoring, Dulce. The family didn’t have a proper stove to cook with, so part of this visit was to arrange to have a fuel efficient stove installed for them.

And this is the topic for this newsletter.

As part of the sponsorship program, Marisol, our social worker, visits all the families in the program once a month. She makes sure that things are going as well as can be expected withing the family dynamic. She also pays attention to see that the family has descent bedding, suffient lighting, and an adequate bathroom.

One thing she’s noticed for some time is the cooking situation at a number of our families. This means; several of our families don’t have a stove or stovetop and as is the case with many, the family has a wood-burning stove without a chimney. This leaves most of the smoke inside the homes making them and their children sick and with pulmonary deseases.

As many of you know, we teach our philosophy classes at the Iglesia del Camino in Antigua, a local church whose Pastor, Pastor Mike, gracefully donates that space for us. La Iglesia del Camino uses Cosas Mejores (Better Things), a commercial local company whose field of expertise is to desing and manufactuer wood-buring, fuel-efficient stoves, bunk beds, water filters and other items that are in great need in the surrounding communities. The stoves that we use are sponsored by our donors, made locally and installed by Cosas Mejores. This stoves have the capacity of serving a large family and utilize only 40% of the firewood compared others.

The Integral Heart Foundation have already installed four of these stoves. Today we are going to give an overview in phtoso of some of these families as an example of how we manage the sponsorships we so kindly receive from our donors.

The photos are below and the descriptions for each are as follows:

1. In the cover photo, we are at Cosas Mejores, getting instructions with the family members on how to use this stove.

2.  Isai’s family is already benefiting from this aspects of our sponsorship program. Before they had an open fire surrounded by blocks without chimney, as you can tell in the picture below:

3. Now they have a fully functioning and more efficient stove. In the house live the father, the mother and four siblings. The mother makes a living by making tortillas and now the cost was reduced considerably, the kids don’t have to breathe the smoke and the environment is also wining with this stove. Isai’s mom with two of her youngest children.

4. Another image of Isai’s family stove in full use.

5. In the case of another family, from the photo you can appreciate the poor state of Dona Sara’s original cooking area. As most of our mothers she also makes tortillas for a living.

6. Doña Sara is a widow who is taking care of her four children on her own. She is not getting any widower’s pension and her situation is precarious. She receive a monthly food basket from Integral Heart, support for her kids to study and now a more affordable and more efficient way of making her tortillas.

7. Dona Blanca is Dulce’s mom. Dulce is being sponsored by our visiting board of director’s member, Pat Goonan. In the picture below you can see him at Dulce’s home after their stove was installed. Four families live together in this location and they will all use the same stove.

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Dulce and her grandma beginning to enjoy their new stove

9-10: Here are some images of other families’ kitchens that currently need some help. We are looking forward to be able to install new stoves for them.

At the Integral Heart Foundation we feel blessed to be able to do this work and to facilitate small improvements in the lives of those we serve. And this wouldn’t be able without the hearts and financial help of all of our donors.

We will continue to sponsor dignity in what that we often take for granted such as having a basic stove.

Thank you so much for following us, for your hearts, for your donations, and for your moral support. It means a lot to us.

With all our love.

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Feb 24, 2015

Meaningful Homework

Angelita with a copy of Love, Marriage & Evolution
Angelita with a copy of Love, Marriage & Evolution

The year has begun, the students are back to class, and we at the Integral Heart Foundation are very excited about what this New Year is going to bring.

We collected the holiday homework from our students; pages and pages of notes, questions, thoughts and inquiries on Amy Edelstein’s book Love, Marriage and Evolution.

After several calls with the author, Amy, discussing the main points of the book that were of most interest to the kids, she published a newsletter based on the student’s homework and her interpretation of the effects of this homework assignment. Please enjoy as much as we did while doing this work.

Excerpted from Amy Edelstein's newsletter Teens Get Relationship Training at Integral Heart in Guatemala.

At Integral Heart Foundation in Antigua, education is philosophical and pragmatic. Everything from shared agreements to condom use to evolutionary philosophy is on the table and up for discussion. Pictured here are teens with their homework assignment at Christmas break: eight chapters to read with exercises from Love, Marriage & Evolution.

Don’t you wish you could have learned how to create shared agreements with your first boyfriend/girlfriend at the same time as you were experiencing the fun and roller coaster of hormones gone wild? How would your relationships have turned out if you’d contemplated the possibility of enjoying intimacy in a spiritual context, one where your values and priorities were shaped by your understanding of the evolutionary unfolding of the cosmos?

These kids are doing just that. The High School students starting a new year in the “Critical Thinking Program,” run by Debora Prieto and Mick Quinn, have just handed in their homework. When I spoke with Deb last week, she laughed, saying they’re giving her a run for her money. Every student delivered a notebook filled with reflections, answers, and more questions about Love, Home, Balance, Trust, and Shared Agreements. This will be the fuel for discussions for the next few weeks in their class.

In the small villages near Antigua, Guatemala, where most of these students live, traditional gender roles define relationships. For the young fellows, considering their girlfriends as partners presented options and a value structure that was significantly different from what they see around them. Frederico (not his real name) told Deb that, since he’d never lived with a girl, he went to ask his married cousin how it all works, book in tow. His cousin (not in the program) ended up writing his own answers to the questions about balance, equality, and shared agreements, handing it in to Deb for review. Then, significantly, he spoke with his young wife, sharing new possibilities with her and making some direct changes to the rather restrictive dynamics between them.

For many of the girls, the chapters on Love and Home were their favorite, but questions like” What are the inner qualities that make us feel at home?” made them reflect afresh on what those time honored institutions could mean. “I want my independence,”

Manuela said. “My husband would have to respect me for who I am and allow me to do more than just be confined to the home.” This is a very real issue for these girls who, in spite of career aspirations, are compelled by social pressures to succumb to a restricted life in the house once they hit their late teens and marriageable age.

For handsome Juan Carlo, Love was also his favorite chapter, but not without some critiques. “Where is the passion?” he rightly challenged Deb. “I like the emotion, the feeling, the fire of Love.” When I heard this, I promised, yes, when I rewrite this book for teens, I will certainly include more on the sparkle and heat of young romance.

But the coolness and caution of my approach will also serve them well, since teen pregnancy which changes the course of a young life is not uncommon even among this inquisitive cohort. Exploring context and intentional relationships can help—but not altogether override—the heat of the moment.

The most important thing though for these kids (and I’d argue for all High School students) which Mick and Deb do such a beautiful job of cultivating, is being in an environment that encourages deep and independent thinking on issues that really matter. For these teens in Antigua, that means getting training in a subject that is central to our lives — the process of committing to intimate relationships.

As usual, we want to truly appreciate the ongoing and beautiful support of all of our donors and sponsors without whom this work would never be possible. Thank you from our hearts for being such an important part of this work.

Much love to you all,

The Integral Heart Foundation.

Student notebooks filled with reflections
Student notebooks filled with reflections
Debora with the afternoon CT Program teens
Debora with the afternoon CT Program teens

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