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Dear Friends,

Goodness gracious, where has the year gone? But at the same time, can we get to 2021 fast enough?

As we reflect on all that has happened throughout the United States, Guatemala, and the rest of the world during the past eleven months it is truly amazing. There has been hardship and stress. There has been strife. There has been sadness and loneliness. There has been sacrifice and loss.

There has also been compassion. There has been education and growth. Many have experienced a "slowing down of life" and return to time spent with immediate family. There has been a resolve to make changes for the betterment of the lives of others. There has been giving of oneself and hope.

We have seen each of the above in the lives affected by FundaMaya: those we serve, our donors and supporters, and our staff. We can celebrate the ways we have made a difference together and understand how we can still make a difference going forward.

We are nearing Giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, on December 1, 2020. We, at FundaMaya, will be sharing our focus for our 2020 Campaign in the coming days. We have named our campaign "A Time of Giving & Gratitude."

We each give and have things to be grateful for. In turn, when we see how much we have to be grateful for, we also see more clearly what we have to give. Stay tuned...

Please take a few minutes to continue reading as we try to share the situation on the ground in our area of Guatemala, explain what we have been doing, and share where we still aim to serve.

We wish each of you peace, good health, and knowledge of our gratitude for your support.



List of Articles in Newsletter newsletter

  • Current Situation in Guatemala

  • Health & Care of FundaMaya Staff

  • Impact to Date

  • Meals Provided in Past 245 Days

  • Villages & Towns Receiving Food

  • School in Guatemala

  • Sponsoring Now...Change a Life Tomorrow

  • It Is Time! School Sponsorship Renewal

  • Typical School Year

  • Reality of 2020 School Year

  • Cultural Learning & Learning Beyond the Classroom

  • Motivational Books

  • On-Line Discussions

  • Kites for All Saints' Day

  • Independence Day (September 15): Art Competition

  • Puppet Show!

  • Christmas Toys & Tamales

  • Feliz Navidad!

  • Guatemalan Tradition: Tamale Baskets

  • Our Elderly

  • Senior Day & Sponsorship

  • A Glimpse in to the Past & Now

  • Ongoing Projects & Family Aid Donation Items

  • Update: Growing Strong Garden Project in Partnership with Cultiva International

  • Donate: Growing Strong

  • Family Aid Donation Items

  • Updates & Social Media

  • SmugMug

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Instagram

  • Message to Potential Groups & Sponsors Wishing to Visit

  • Specific Student Donations

  • About the Coordinating Non-Profits (Guatemala, United States, & Canada)

  • Action Alliance International, Inc.

  • FundaMaya Canada

  • Fundamaya (Fundación Familia Maya)


Current Situation in Guatemala

As in much of the rest of the world, COVID-19 is still a force to be reckoned with for each of us and our families. As of November 15, the World Health Organization says Guatemala has 114,179 overall confirmed cases and 3,920 confirmed deaths (which are believed to be under inflated numbers).

The President of Guatemala has opened the country up for businesses to operate and there are no curfews. There is more work for people with stores and businesses being open, but it is still a real struggle against hunger for families.

However, there are more cases of COVID-19 - as many cases are not being reported now, along with there being a greater number of interactions amongst people. In Guatemala, there is a large "stigma" if you are identified as being sick with COVID-19. In indigenous populations, the effects of stigma can be that much more. So many are living on the "verge" of complete struggle. The idea of being associated with someone (i.e., family member or a close neighbor) with COVID-19 can then lead family members to not being able to work. If there are only one or two people working in the extended family, the effects of non-work and loss of wages, can be felt by a large number of people in the entire family.

We at FundaMaya, Action Alliance, and FundaMaya Canada are so thankful for all the support that you have given us during these very difficult months. Your support has allowed us to continue delivering food to hungry families four days a week since this pandemic started.

The needs of the people we serve are "now." In time, we will begin to focus on more long-term projects - but right now people are hungry and have very real medical problems. This is the reality and needs of those we serve.

Your partnership with us is welcomed and valued!


Health & Care of FundaMaya Staff

FundaMaya staff members have been on the "front lines" as we have compiled and delivered food to multiple communities.

We have our staff wearing protective outfits, plastic shields, and KN95 face masks when delivering food. They also carry hand sanitizer with them, and we utilize digital thermometers to regularly take their temperature.

We utilize portable bottles of disinfectant to spray everyone before they receive donations (standard practice here in Guatemala) and we have mats with disinfectant for everyone to stand on.

Everyone who comes into our offices follow the procedures and protocols set out by the local health offices.

  • Spray for clothes,

  • Disinfectant mat for feet,

  • Temperature taken,

  • Mask being worn at all times, and

  • A gel dispenser for everyone entering the office to clean their hands.

Even so this virus managed to infect four of our staff members. We immediately took action and closed the office for over two weeks to allow for quarantining. We had all staff members tested for COVID-19 (resulting in four staff members being confirmed with COVID-19).

Very sadly two of our staff, who are siblings, also had their father become infected, and he passed away. It has been a very difficult time for all of us as we care about each other, but we know that the need is very great here!

Nearly everyone needs food. Our staff members were ready to return to the work, as they understand the importance of being able to help their communities. We will continue to be as careful as possible while serving.

Thank you for your patience and grace as we all struggle at this time...thank you for your continued support for the work we all do together.


Impact to Date

Meals Provided in Past 245 Days

In March, when we first saw the start of this worldwide, life changing pandemic starting - we realized the need for food would be like nothing we had seen before.

However, even then, we couldn't realize the true magnitude of need - and how our supporters and staff would step up to help so many that had no idea how to find the resources for food. This wasn't due to a lack of "will" or desire to do it on their own. This was due to a pandemic that has affected our whole world and especially those who lack even the basic resources to begin with - or were on the "brink" of sustainability before.

Your donations have enabled FundaMaya to deliver over 1,000,000 meals* to students, families, and elders since March 11. This averages out to approximately 4,081 people getting 1 meal for 245 days! Amazing!

We can't begin to express our appreciation or what it has meant for the families, students, or elders that have received these meals.

Unfortunately, the lack of jobs here in Panajachel and the surrounding villages is still very real. There is a very valid concern from families as to where their next meal or bit of food is going to come from. We see it when they even come in to receive their food or we give it to them in their community. Though the masks cover their faces, the eyes can not hide the concern so many feel.

Donations towards food for a sponsored student, an elderly person, or towards our general emergency food fund is still welcomed. The mother or father who doesn't have to look at their hungry child and say there is nothing to eat again today - or the child or elderly person that doesn't have hunger pangs and a rumbling stomach - they say "Gracias."

To our donors and supporters, THANK YOU for your commitment in helping our vulnerable communities.

*number of meals based on 700kcal per mea

For general donations:

Villages & Towns Receiving Food

These are just some of the villages and towns FundaMaya has been providing/ delivering food to during the past few months with our supporters' help.

  • Panajachel

  • San Jorge la Laguna

  • Tierra Linda

  • Pena Blanca

  • El Barranco

  • Solola

  • Maria Tecun

  • Patanatic

  • Santa Catarina Palopo

  • San Antonio Palopo

  • Chukmuk

  • Santiago

  • San Lucas Toliman

  • Aqua Escondido

  • Jaibalito

  • Xepec

  • San Andres Semebetaj

  • Chaquiya

  • Xecotoj

  • Los Robles

  • Finca San Julian

  • Porvenir

  • Patulul

  • Cerro de Oro

  • Los Encuentros

  • Santa Maria

  • Concepcion

  • Monte Mercedes

  • Caserio San Luis

  • Cooperativa

  • Pixabaj

  • Poaquil de Chimaltenango


School in Guatemala

Sponsoring Now...

Change a Life Tomorrow

Would you believe these two adorable twins still need sponsors?

Can you be their sponsor? If not, we understand, but maybe you have a friend, coworker, or family member that might want to make a difference in a child's life. We know many of you give so much already.

We also know many sponsors have come forward when one of our existing supporters shares about the impact they can have and how sponsorship is just over $1 a day. Please consider sharing and facilitating more school sponsorships.

Education - wow, what a powerful, true gift to a child and community in the long run...

“It is in fact a part of the function of education to

help us escape, not from our own time — for we are

bound by that — but from the intellectual and

emotional limitations of our time.

– T.S. Eliot

They are in the FundaMaya Preschool in San Antonio Palopo.

To make it more confusing they are both called Maria! However, they use their second names.

Their names are Maria Solash (Reference #717) and Maria Mishell (Reference #716). They were born on December 15, 2015. If you would like to sponsor one of these beautiful girls (or both) - they would be delighted - and so would we!

The girls and their parents do not have a bed and instead sleep on a straw mat on the hard floor. There are six children in their family.

If you would like to sponsor either of these girls, it is $35 US ($47 Canadian) per month.

Please contact us at

We have many other students still needing sponsorship. If you, or someone you know, is interested in making a profound impact on the life of a child, please visit our Children Needing School Sponsorship Page for just some of the children in our community that are seeking the chance to continue their education.

Education - Wow, what a powerful, true gift to a child and community in the long run...

It Is Time! School Sponsorship Renewal

Thank you for your commitment to the education of our students. It will soon be time to renew your sponsorship. We begin this campaign now in order to determine how many students are sponsored and who still needs support.

The school year begins in January. As COVID cases continue to increase here, it is difficult to say whether students will return to attending school or if education will continue to be delivered by national television and the internet. We will continue to support our students in accessing their education by whatever means is available and adapting to the circumstances presented to us. Your sponsorship remains critical in order for them to do so.

If you have a monthly sponsorship, you do not have to do anything. Your payments will continue to be processed as before.

If you paid the annual sponsorship fee, then please renew at the appropriate link below. Enter your sponsored child's name and number in the detail box and note that it is for sponsorship.

We would appreciate sponsors paying annually to do so by December 18th for the 2021 school year. If you would prefer to pay after the holidays, please take a moment to contact Corrine or Linda at 214-444-9889 or to communicate your plan for payment.

Thank you for your generous support.

To sponsor a child to go to preschool please go to

Canadians please go to

For a little over a dollar a day you can change a child's life.

$35 US ($47 CAD) per month.

$420 US ($563 CAD) annually.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

– Frederick Douglas

Typical School Year

In Guatemala, school officially finishes in November; but, some schools will continue classes until December. The government is saying the schools will start again in January and/or February. (We also understand that this is a dynamic situation - so the school year may still be a bit "less traditional" for part of the year if the government decides to adjust their directives.) This is the usual time that classes start in Guatemala.

Typically, the school year goes from January or February to October or November depending on the schools.

Reality of 2020 School Year

The Guatemalan government has said the physical schools will remain closed for the rest of 2020. Students receive their school work at home by a variety of methods. Here are some of the common ways lessons are received:

  • On-line classes.

  • WhatsApp via a mobile phone (a common messaging app, if you aren't familiar with it).

  • Physical Packets of schoolwork delivered to students' homes.

  • Parents pick up physical packets of schoolwork at the school.

  • Government lessons on TV at listed times.

I am sure many of our donors are experiencing the joys and struggles of teaching or having their children taught in this new virtual environment. This has not been an easy year for students, parents, or teachers here either! Internet service can be a very big struggle for families as the connection can be costly, if even possible. Some students go to an internet store and rent time on a computer. This is an added expense when families could least afford it. However, our students are determined to be able to continue and they have done so as best they can. We hope next year will be much better for everyone! We look forward to starting a new school year!!


Cultural Learning & Learning Beyond the Classroom

Motivational Books

We are very lucky to receive a motivational book for each of our students at the Tierra Linda Junior High school.

It was written by Andy Carias, a well known Guatemalan TV personality and author.

The book is called "El Camino Para Alcanzar Tus Sueños" which means "The Road to Make Your Dreams Come True."


Books Galore

“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.”

– B.B. King

On-Line Discussions

FundaMaya has been hosting on-line talks, discussions, and competitions for our students to help

keep them engaged.

Each week we offer discussions they can join. They are on a variety of subjects:

  • Mayan Medicine

  • Mental Health during COVID-19

  • Popol Vuh

  • The New Masculinity

  • Tools Needed to Start a Business

  • Maya Art

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Sustainable Help

  • The Situation for Children in Guatemala

  • and many other subjects

These have been free on-line to all of the FundaMaya students and families, along with the community at large.

Kites for

All Saints' Day

Fundamaya is doing an on-line competition for children to decorate kites and send in the photos.

The kites are said to be a way of communicating with your loved ones who have passed away. This is a tradition for All Saints' Day in Guatemala, but is also known as Day of the Dead in other countries.

1st Prize: Basketball and a Bag of Food

2nd Prize: Bag of Food

3rd Prize: Bag of Food

This year the celebrations will be very different, but children will still be flying their kites!

All Saints Day is always on November 1.

Independence Day (September 15):

Art Competition

FundaMaya held a competition to celebrate the Independence Day of Guatemalan and had over 40 entries.

It was a virtual competition to do a drawing, painting, or design of the national symbols of Guatemala. The students were asked to use recycled items so they wouldn't have to spend any money on the project.

The work was wonderful, imaginative, and very creative! The judges had a hard time deciding on the winners!

Here is a link to some additional entries:

There were some beautiful entries from our students.

The 1st prize received a blender.

2nd & 3rd prize received a cake.

4th and 5th place received a bag of food.

Puppet Show!

We were very happy to partner with Chùmbala Cachùmbala and provide an on-line puppet show for children. Click here to watch the puppet show (in Spanish): The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” – Malcolm Forbes


Christmas Toys & Tamales

Feliz Navidad!

It is just 40 days to Christmas 2020! This is the year that has sped by, but also crept by!

We recognize it has been a hard year for everyone, including our supporters. Even still so many of you have given in order to make life better for so many others. Many of the ways you have helped in 2020 are dealing with more "needs" and effects of the pandemic.

Christmas will be different this year. We cannot have the Christmas parties for the children we have always enjoyed doing. For many years, they have received gifts, had fun with the clowns, met the "big man" himself (aka Santa), and even got a photo with him. A few hours of celebration, and memories to last a lifetime.

However, we are improvising! If you would like to send a gift to your student or your sponsored senior we will be delighted to deliver these Christmas toys and gifts.

If you don't have a sponsored student but would like to brighten a child's life here with a Christmas gift, please go to and click on the donate button. and designate it as "General Christmas Gifts" in the Comment Section. Any amount will be very, very welcome.

If you would like to give a Christmas gift to your student, it is $25 US ($34 CAD). Another great gift can be traditional clothes or another pair of shoes for your student. Families are always appreciative when their donors give a gift that also benefits the entire family (i.e., water filter, bed, ONIL Stove, wardrobe, table, chairs, etc.)

Guatemalan Tradition: Tamale Baskets

FundaMaya will be distributing the traditional Christmas Tamale Baskets the week before Christmas. The food and ingredients included in the basket will be enough to prepare a traditional Christmas meal and enough food for a week for ten people.

To donate a Christmas Tamale basket for your student, a sponsored senior, or for general distribution, please go to and click on the donate button. In the comments, indicate if it is for a specific person and their ID number or for general distribution. The cost of a Tamale Basket is $45 US ($60 CAD).

Click the link below to learn a bit more about the traditions of Christmas in Guatemala, including the role of tamales.

Please donate for tamale baskets and Christmas gifts

by Friday, December 18.

Images from the 2019 Christmas Party

Smiles and laughter of kids is precious...

Joy of a mother... Oh my...which one? Wonderment... Happiness...


Our Elderly

Celebrating Seniors & Sponsorship

On November 15, we celebrate our seniors in Guatemala. This year, gifts were made in honor of two people. The first was in memory of Reverend Glen by The Community Church of Poway, who always had a great love for the elderly and will be very much missed. The second was made in honor of Ann Blackman for her 73rd birthday by her family. This gift will enable each of our seniors to receive a bag of food which will include half a chicken and vegetables so they can make chicken soup!

Please consider sponsoring an elderly person for $38 US ($50 Canadian) per month.

We currently have 23 sponsored in our program, but our goal is to have all of our additional 65 elderly individuals sponsored in the program to help make it self-substaining.

A Glimpse Into the Past

& Now

The elders in the FundaMaya program have lived collectively over 6,000 years! That is a lot of life lived! Take a moment to learn a bit more about a few of the elders in our two programs (Panajachel & San Jorge la Laguna).

Other than Spanish, Kakchiquel is the primary language spoken in the area. It is estimated about 400,000 people still speak Kakchiquel.

Click on each of the names for a short video to get a glimpse of their lives.


Ongoing Projects &

Family Aid Donation Items

Update: Growing Strong Garden Project in Partnership with Cultiva International

We are delighted with the results of our GROWING STRONG garden project! Food, especially nutritious food, is the greatest need all the families have right now during this pandemic. Hunger is widespread amongst those we serve. Thanks to a donation from Ed and Fatima Nash we were able to provide ten garden boxes to families in need in conjunction with Cultiva International ( The families that were selected were thrilled to be chosen to receive the first ten garden boxes, nutritious plant starts, and the necessary training.

As you can see from the photos, the garden boxes were a great success. We would love for this project to gain momentum - giving families the chance to grow their own food in this very difficult time and well beyond!


Growing Strong

If you would like to help a family with a ready-made garden and training classes, please go to FundaMaya and donate.**

Please note it is for the Growing Strong Project and if it is going to a specific person.

It is a donation of $125 US or $167.50 Canadian.

** Please contact us at if donating to a specific student or individual to be sure this is a viable option for the family.

Family Aid Donation Items

As we identify specific needs of the families and individuals we work with, often coordinating with specific donors - we continue to provide water filters, beds, hygiene kits, and a few other essential items. The list of some of our clients' most urgent needs can be found at Family Aid Donation Items. Go to FundaMaya and donate for a specific person or for the general need. Please note in the comments what the donation is specifically for and if it is going to a specific person.


Updates & Social Media


We want our sponsors to have a "window" into the lives of the students or elderly they sponsor. Our intention is to upload pictures, letters, and information for our supporters to be able to confirm donations were provided as designated. We often hear that it helps sponsors feel more of a connection and gain a greater understanding of life in Guatemala.

If for some reason you are sponsoring a student, family, or elderly person, and don't currently have access to SmugMug, please e-mail You will be sent information on how to get started.

Thank you again for your support of our programs and the many individuals that benefit from them!


FundaMaya also utilizes Facebook to keep our supporters, donors, and volunteers up to date with a variety of topics related to Guatemala and the work we do to serve our communities.

We will often post information about the beauty of Guatemala, along with other items that illustrate the difficulties of life.

Check in daily or weekly, or just Like Us on Facebook to get a glimpse into our every day activities and ways we serve our communities.

For more information on FundaMaya, check out the following Facebook groups (private, request permission to join) and pages (public).

Catch up with us on Twitter now!

Catch up with us on Instagram now!

Message to Potential Groups & Sponsors Wishing to Visit

FundaMaya is based on relationships, interactions, and service. So, this is extremely difficult for us to say... Due to COVID-19, we will not be able to host visitors or groups at the office or organize student visits.

We anticipate this will be in place until at least June 1, 2021. In March or April we will reassess for time past this date based on the situation in Guatemala and the availability of an effective vaccine for those we serve.

This decision is not taken lightly as we want to have visitors! We also understand the reality of the healthcare system if a person gets sick here in Guatemala and the difficulties of getting back to the United States or Canada if you are sick. In addition, we can't take the added chance that one of our sponsored students, elderly, or staff members is unintentionally affected by a visitor from out of country.

We can't wait to welcome back visitors - whether long term volunteers with long standing relationships to sponsored students or new visitors getting to experience Guatemala and FundaMaya for the first time!!

Thank you for understanding. Please know we don't make this decision lightly.



About the

Coordinating Non-Profits

(Guatemala, United States, & Canada)

Action Alliance International, Inc. started through the desire to give care providers and families in Guatemala assistance to improve lives and to have the ability to assist their own community. We partner with Fundación Familia Maya also called FundaMaya, a Guatemalan nonprofit, and work to help them assist their communities’ poorest families to educate their children, care for their elderly, and be available as a safety net to the most vulnerable in their community.

FundaMaya Canada (charitable registration under Canadian Friends of FundaMaya Association) was established in 2005 and developed programs to provide indigenous Maya families in the rural communities of Lake Atitlan with the basic necessities of schooling, food, housing, clothing and medical aid. We partner with Fundación Familia Maya (FundaMaya) to deliver our programs to advance education and alleviate poverty.

Fundamaya (Fundación Familia Maya) was born from the vision of a group of indigenous Guatemalan, Australian, and American friends wanting to make a difference for those most in need. Now, more than 14 years later, we have an even greater desire to help the Guatemalan communities we call home. From the beginning it was important to everyone involved that FundaMaya be a Guatemalan organization. ​ While we partner with people from other countries and benefit from the energy, skill, and knowledge of two of our founders, Sharon and Dwight, our board is now all Guatemalan and predominantly indigenous. Our board members are from the Lake Atitlan area, and they truly understand the culture, and respect the way of life. FundaMaya’s mission is to strengthen our communities by promoting education, well-being, and empowerment. Invest in the education of the children. The results will be felt now, and for generations to come. Maya Helping Maya

No matter how small the amount, your donation–combined with others’ donations–will have a great and positive impact. Please help us to feed, educate, and continue serving.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones to keep safe and well.

Sharon Smart - FundaMaya

Lois Reimer - FundaMaya Canada

Linda Cotton and Corrine Nelson - Action Alliance International

There are many ways to help. Please share this newsletter with friends, family members, or colleagues on your social media, forward it by e-mail, run your own fundraiser on Facebook, or just by talking with friends about the situation and how you are helping.

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