The stories of Indigenous Maya women and children have been silenced for far too long. Each woman, child, and community has an important story to share.
The story of migration from the perspective of many Americans is often partisan, tragic, and impersonal–it starts at the southern border and ends on cable news. But a story that centers the people who migrate often starts in our communities.
As a small, international nonprofit serving an Indigenous population in Guatemala, we believe that our success is directly related to how much we value the people that make up our organization as they create positive outcomes for entire communities.
Acompañamiento, solidaridad, confianza, comunicación abierta. These are words the Mil Milagros team uses daily to talk about our work. Because we’re a multilingual organization and our supporter community spans the globe, we’d like to try to bridge the geographical and linguistic gaps and break down what these words mean to our organization, our staff, and our communities in rural Guatemala:
“Without the help I’ve received from Mil Milagros,” says Rosa Linda Méndez, 18, “I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
“Getting to have lots of books in our classroom and being able to choose what to read is a nice experience,” says Allet, a first-grader at Los Planes community school.
When elementary school teacher Marco decided to take part in Mil Milagros’ intensive teacher certification course for literacy techniques, he knew something had to change in his classroom: “After working and teaching for so long, you forget important techniques,” he said. “Here, we’re getting together to broaden our own understanding–and that will benefit our students, too.”
When Patricia and Linda adopted their children from Guatemala, they knew their life would change. But what they didn’t expect was feeling a lifelong connection to their children’s birth-country, so far removed from their own: “it makes us feel like one big global family.”
“I love seeing the light turn on for the mothers and for them to make changes at home. They start to pay more attention to how they are raising their children or what the hygiene is like in the home.”
“I feel happy because not everyone has the opportunity to receive a scholarship like this,” says Anderson. “My dream when I graduate high school is to study civil engineering.”
Indigenous Maya express their culture, history, religion, and personality through beautifully woven designs that vary in style, color, material, and weaving techniques.
Guatemala ranks in the bottom quartile in the world for youth literacy and primary school completion. And that was before the pandemic. Now, children are falling even further behind due to ongoing school closures.
Camille is an occupational therapist from Australia. She decided to become an ‘amigo’ (monthly donor) after learning about Mil Milagros from friends and family.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a week-long celebration leading up to Easter Sunday. From baking large amounts of bread to decorating streets with sawdust “carpets”, you won’t find another country that celebrates Semana Santa quite like Guatemala does. Here are a few of their traditions:
Life during COVID-19 has been no easy feat for anyone. Like the rest of the world, Mil Milagros has had to adjust to this ‘new normal’.
MM Executive Director, Carolyn Daly, shares the story of mother and daughter, Andrea and Melisa.
Heidi is a member of MM’s Board of Directors. She is a businesswoman, a generous donor, and an advocate. Heidi is a mother of two incredible children, one of whom was born in Guatemala.
Joel is the principal, the fifth and sixth grade teacher, the head of the hygiene committee, and the student council advisor at his school of 89 children.
"I have learned how to be a better mother from Mil Milagros...and I believe in myself more."
Getting rid of head lice (or piojos in Spanish) is no easy feat. At the beginning of 2019, mothers, teachers, and student council members from Xesampual made eradicating head lice their top hygiene goal for the year and Mil Milagros’ Community Coordinators were eager to help.
Immigration to the US is on the rise in Guatemala. 'A Brighter Future' explores the effect on rural Guatemalan communities and how together we are creating brighter futures at home.
Life in Guatemala is not easy. With support from Mil Milagros, rural Guatemalan women are making serious changes in their communities.
“Now I am able to teach other women and my own daughters that they matter.” Silvia’s transformation has enabled her to empower other women.
Maya women are the most marginalized group in Guatemala. Compared to all other groups in Guatemala, Maya women are almost three times as likely to live in extreme poverty. They have fewer years of schooling, shorter lifespans, and higher maternal mortality rates than their non-indigenous counterparts.
Marvin has been a teacher for 13 years and now serves as principal of the Los Planes School. Recently, drought has sent many of his student’s parents to the U.S.
When 12-year-old Mallerly is not busy serving as president of her school’s student council, she’s winning chess tournaments all over Guatemala.
“Many children believe they just need to get the sixth grade...and then go to the United States to work. I think that Mil Milagros does a great job teaching students skills that allow them to achieve their goals here in Guatemala."
Santos was born into a life of poverty and wasn't able to attend school. Now, as a Mil Milagros Mother Leader Volunteer, she shares her hopes and dreams for her own children and wants to give them opportunities she never had.
“Mil Milagros and Parenting Journey have completely changed our community. We are so grateful that you are here." Mothers in rural Guatemala improve their self-esteem and parenting skills by participating in this life-changing program.
98% of the water supply in Guatemala is contaminated. Water Charity provides Mil Milagros with long-lasting water filters so our children have clean drinking water in their classrooms, school kitchens and homes.
Before beginning medical school, Ben was looking for a volunteer opportunity to broaden his horizons. He spent four months with Mil Milagros in 2016, assisting with communications and creating health campaigns for the children.
Meet Manuel: Mil Milagros Admin Assistant, computer whiz and creator of several Tz’utujil language apps!
In rural Guatemala, one in three indigenous women have no access to health and family planning services. Wuqu' Kawoq - Maya Health Alliance brings women's health classes to the communities where Mil Milagros works.
Lia, 19, was adopted from Guatemala and wanted to know more about her birth country. On her first trip back to Guatemala, when she was 15 years old, she visited Mil Milagros’ communities with her mom, which she recounts as being a life-changing experience.
Mil Milagros partners with One Day's Wages to bring health and hygiene solutions to rural Guatemala to fight malnutrition, prevent illness, and create long-lasting change.
Juan Antonio Gil is a Mil Milagros Board Member and literacy expert. Every year, he returns to his native Guatemala to train kindergarten and first grade teachers at Mil Milagros' partner schools in early literacy teaching techniques.
As a mother of two children adopted from Guatemala, and having visited Mil Milagros, Ellen understands first hand the poverty that many children experience in Guatemala. After meeting Mil Milagros’ founder Margaret Blood eight years ago, Ellen was moved by her passion for helping children and families and wanted to help. When she made the trip to Guatemala with her family, she experienced MM’s work in its partner communities.
"I want my community to see that when a woman puts her mind to something, things can change. Because life is like that; when you dedicate it to making miracles, there is no limit to the changes you can make."
Jeff is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brookline, MA. The church supports Mil Milagros through its Mission Outside the Parish grant program. In addition, Jeff and his family, which includes a son adopted from Guatemala, are monthly donors.
Children in Guatemala are learning that drinking water every day is essential to living a happy, healthy life!
Mil Milagros Executive Director, Carolyn Daly, shares the story of a leader who inspires her.
Blanca's life has been full of challenges but she has persevered to become a leader in her community.