Build a Brighter Future for 55 Kids in Guatemala

by Integral Heart Foundation
Fatima 2011 (and Mick Quinn co-founder)
Fatima 2011 (and Mick Quinn co-founder)

Fatima is a lovely little girl who lives in San Mateo Milpas Altas, Guatemala. We have known her since 2011 and she is one of the long term sponsored children of the Integral Heart Foundation. She always was really shy, but curious, and she is a good example of what we hope to achieve by beginning a lifetime relationship based in sponsorship and education with the children of Guatemala.

Fatima has been sponsored by Christy and Vegar (last name omitted). She is one of our few students whose sponsorship has never changed; her godparents never stopped supporting her. And, for this, her grandmother, Dona Debora, is very grateful and always reminds us when we see her how important this help has been over the years for Fatima and her siblings.

Fatima, who was four years old when we first met her has already gone through some significant losses that have made her even more introspective. Her dad died when she was 3 years old. At that time her father, her mom and two siblings had been living in a house given to them by her dad’s parents. However, a year after his death her dad’s parents decided that they needed the space and that the family had to move out (unfortunately this is a common practice in Guatemala).

So Fatima’s mom moved with her three children to her own parent’s home. The kids were taken care of by the grandparents while she (the mom) went to work every day to earn what little she could to provide for them. Then, two years later Fatima’s grandfather died. This was an even worse loss for her and he had become the father figure for her, and now being a little older, she could understand and suffer this loss even more.

Since the beginning of our work with her family, our social worker Marisol, who herself is Guatemalan, visits them at least once per month and also delivers their food baskets. This constant support we can give because of your donations also means that Fatima is less shy and more open.

Then, just two weeks ago, after Debora and Mick visited her home with visiting teachers Renata and Kirstie, Fatima came to our “Wisdom Speakers Series” class with the rest of our Philosophy/Critical Thinking students and she had a great time.

Dona Debora, her grandma, was thrilled as she told us that she herself is getting older she doesn’t have the same patience as she did before to take care of the kids. She told us that sometimes she locks herself alone in a room in order to have some peace. We are very grateful to their sponsors for allowing us this opportunity of knowing and caring about this lovely family and giving some space to Dona Debora.

Our goal for next year is to be able to have our own space in which we can accommodate the younger sponsored children every day with classes, games, activities and learning experiences, all of these kids who currently stay at home or play on the dirt streets for long hours. Many families are in the same situation as Fatima, the parent(s) have to work and the grandparents take care of them, but as Dona Debora said: “ I am not getting any younger and the kids are growing and I need to rest”.

Thank you all for such an amazing year and for all the opportunities you allow us to provide on your behalf here in Guatemala with these beautiful families.

Much love to you all and have wonderful holidays.

Debora, Mick, Marisol and all the Families at the Integral Heart Foundation.

Fatima and her sister 2012
Fatima and her sister 2012
Fatima and her mom and sister 2013
Fatima and her mom and sister 2013
Fatima 2014
Fatima 2014
Fatima with Grandma 2015
Fatima with Grandma 2015
Fatima with Marisol and her sister 2015
Fatima with Marisol and her sister 2015
Fatima in meditation at Wisdom Speaker Series 2015
Fatima in meditation at Wisdom Speaker Series 2015
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
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.

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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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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.

8.
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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See description for Photo 9-10
Home visits make heart connections
Home visits make heart connections

As the school year ends in Guatemala and the kids are out of school from the end of October until the beginning of January, we, at the Integral Heart Foundation, are focusing our attention in visiting the families.

As part of providing the skills and training to the children and teens in our program that they will need to be successful in life, it is also important to us to nourish the connection we have with their families and to let them give us their suggestions, and to hear their worries and dreams. We want to make sure that they are listened to and that they feel an integral part of our big family.

The home visits are also important because they allow us to get to know the younger children who are not yet in our program and to encourage the parents to value eduation by sending them to our classes.

And, even though the normal school year is over for the year, our weekend study / homework class is continuing to grow. This class is led by one of our top, long-term student, Juan Carlos who just graduated as a teacher with the help of your support. This class is supervised by our social worker Marisol and, even though it's on a Saturday, what started with three youngsters earlier this year, has now grown to nine, and all are voluntarily attending.

Besides the learning environment, these ten are also are building a strong heart connection that brings them together and makes them excel at the normal schoolwork. Below you can see the whole group from last week.

During the month of November, we also have the honor of having with us a guest teacher from the United States who came, by his own expense, to reinforce our education program. We visited him some of the sponsored family homes and it was a very touching day for all of us. Below you can witness some of the moments we shared together.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of you who made this possible: all our donors, advisers, staff, lecturers,  and, of course, our students. And please, have a wonderful and love-filled Holiday.

The Integral Heart Foundation.

Visiting Alvaro and his siblings.
Visiting Alvaro and his siblings.
With Gudiel and Jackie
With Gudiel and Jackie's family
Home visits make heart connections
Home visits make heart connections
Visting families with Terry Patten
Visting families with Terry Patten
Visting families with Terry Patten
Visting families with Terry Patten
Juan Carlos and his weekend study group
Juan Carlos and his weekend study group

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Organization Information

Integral Heart Foundation

Location: Panorama, Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepequez - Guatemala
Website: http:/​/​www.integralheartfoundation.org
Project Leader:
Mick Quinn
Salt Lake City, Utah United States