Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Maria and Her Children Receive Christmas Gifts From FFF Volunteers

Our founding family, single mother Maria and her four children, are shown above during a visit from FFF volunteers Fabiola and Vinicio. The children were all smiles as they received their holiday gifts. The family is standing on the porch of their new home, which was built by FFF supporters. Happy Holidays Maria and family!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thank You to Our Guatemalan Board Members

Fabiola and Vinicio are the two Guatemalan board members who work hard for our clients. They have supervised the food delivery and house construction of two of our single mothers in the FFF program for the last year. Without their dedication to the needs of our clients, and their commitment to our mission, our work in Guatemala would be much less effective.
We are grateful for their help, and we look forward to the blessing of their assistance in 2011.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Maria and her children prepare for their new donated house in Guatemala

Maria and her elderly mother are preparing to move into their new home donated by Finding Freedom Through Friendship. Maria is our first client and her acute need for safe and structurally sound housing was the reason FFF was founded. I first met her almost one year ago. At the time, her youngest son was sick with hepatitis. Maria's husband had left her after baby Nancy was born. She was and continues to care for her elderly mother who lives with Maria. With all of this responsibility, Maria had the extra burden of no reliable income, a lack of adequate food resources for her children, and with only a first-grade education, she had minimal hope of finding a job that would provide for the needs of the family. 
Thanks to our generous donors, we had the funds available to purchase land and build a home for Maria and her family. We are sponsoring the two oldest children for school sponsorship, in hopes of preventing the cycle of illiteracy for this family.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Boy Scout troop in Denver Donates Midwifery Kits for Guatemala

Our board vice president, Mike McNevin,  is a scout leader in Denver. One of his prospective Eagle Scouts, Clayton Dunnaway chose rural midwives in Guatemala as his project. Finding Freedom sends midwifery kits to Guatemala as part of our maternal support program. The scouts above arranged the donations of supplies that are important for the delivery of a healthy newborn. Baby blankets were sewn, clothing donated, supplies packed, duffle bags boxed and then delivered to our home office in Lexington, KY. These suitcases above show the extent of the work done by the scouts. Their work will benefit 170 newborns in Guatemala.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Faces of the Future of Guatemala

The wealth of a country is dependent on the health of their women. Without an education, proper shelter, laws of protection and a means of economical gain, the women of Guatemala are not equipped to raise the next generation. Due to the limitations of  governmental resources in each of these criteria reaching the women in rural Guatemala, our work is more important than ever.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hope for a Better Future

This is Maria's daughter. Maria is our first client, and is the reason our program was founded. Her needs for food and housing were urgent after the abandonment by her husband. Without an education, Maria had no way to earn more than a few dollars a week. Unfortunately, her situation is common in rural Guatemala. Thanks to a few generous donors, we are now in the process of building a home for this family. They are beginning to believe that they can have faith in a better future. The children are now in school. Our facilitators, Fabiola and Vinicio deliver food staples, and FFF has purchased land that is deeded to Maria. Maria's daughter has a reason to smile.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Donation of a corn mill to a remote village in Guatemala

Here is the post from our amazing FFF volunteer who delivered a diesel corn mill to the village of Xecalbal. 
On Friday 24th September early in the morning I met Ramon and his son at the shop there they sell corn mills and other things. And I paid for the corn mill and we had to wait for the pickup car. We travelled first on the interamericana and then on a dirt road that is not in very good condition and we arrived to the entrance of the small steep mountain road to their village. Men and boys form the village met us to help to carry the parts of the corn mill by foot. It took about 2 hours to arrive to the village; we had to do several stops to rest. And later arrived some of the village’s women, to have their photo taken with the corn mill. Just before I was going to take the photos it started to rain heavy so I had to wait before it was possible to take photos outside. Inside the house it was too dark to good photos. As you can see the women are very happy for the corn mill. Some women were missing for the photo session. It was late and I had to sleep over in the village. I gave them a paper with the names of the donors and it a near time I hope to receive the thank you textiles.

25th September I woke up at 2.30 AM and at 3 o’clock Ramon and I started the long walk uphill. I wanted to catch a bus at 5.30 AM. It was a tough walk, we arrived to the road at 5.50 but the bus was delayed so I had the luck to catch the bus. This road is the only road there cars etc passes, and they are few, and only one bus passes in the morning. And it would have been another long walk on a very muddy road if I had missed that bus. Then I arrived to the crossroad 4 caminos the rain stated.

It is already decided where to have the corn mill, no corn mill house construction is needed.

All went very well, no problems. The women and the men of the villages thank you and the donors so much for the corn mill!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lexington teens raise money for single mothers in Guatemala

Bradley Cason, Claire Cason, Sevie Morgensten and Katie Greenlee hosted a car wash today to raise awareness and funds for single mother's in Guatemala. They raised $97 that will be used for food deliveries next month. Great job guys!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Manuel and Family with food donation from FFF

Finding Freedom does not usually support married women. In the case of this family, FFF was concerned that without food donations, Manuel's wife would be a single mother soon.
We have been working with a physician friend in Guatemala to diagnose Manuel. To date, his physical wasting has been diagnosed as severe diabetes. The logistics of teaching his wife how to do blood testing and injections seem insurmountable, but for now, we are happy to be able to supply food to the family. This is the third donation of monthly food supplements FFF has delivered to this family. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Juana's new home construction has begun!

Thanks to some generous donors and our key chain sales, our first and most economically disadvantaged FFF client will soon be in her new home. The home ownership was expedited by the fact that Juana already owned the land, and we didn't have to fund the purchase of this. Although very modest by U.S. standards, this house will be the first home this client and her disabled daughter have ever owned with a concrete floor, a water filter, a roof that doesn't leak during the rainy season, and bathroom. Their current home is pictured below. We hope to be able to fund a water source to the house so that the nearby river, which is badly polluted, no longer needs to serve as the drinking water for this family.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Essential food supplies delivered in rural Guatemala

Manuela and her mother just received their June food staple donation from Freedom through Friendship. The maize, beans, cooking oil, sugar, pasta and other essentials have been donated to this family since February. Manuela suffers from anemia, and our facilitator will take her to a physician for an evaluation next month.
Meanwhile, as a stipulation of being in our program, she is attending her local school.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Update on Finding Freedom's efforts to raise funds for humanitarian efforts in Guatemala

As you can see from the post below, the need is great in rural Guatemala following the ecological disasters of last weekend. Concerns for destroyed crops and the impact this will have on a country already ranked as having the highest rate of pediatric malnutrition in Central America are rising. However, the immediate need is for the more fundemental concerns of shelter, food and water.
Hugo's gratitude and his latest report on his efforts is below. In light of the need he writes of, FFF will continue our fundraising efforts through the next week, and we will reassess the need then.
Thank you to all who sent checks on his behalf last week. I was able to send $500 in cash to be hand-carried to him today. We have great supporters!

A report from Hugo (First-responder in humanitarian crisis in Guatemala)

Hola Jody.
I really want to thank you for all that you have been doing for all this
people from Pacaya volcano area.
We were there yesterday and today and it is really sad  to see many
families getting back to their properties and facing all the
destruction.

We headed out of Antigua this morning with two truckloads of supplies
for the people living in the shadow of the Pacaya volcano. Our goal was
to try and get some basic supplies to areas that have not received any
assistance. Our supplies consisted of heavy plastic sheeting (to repair
roofs), water filters, corn flour, toilet paper and diapers (no water
means no way to clean cloth diapers). Local leaders had been asking for
these to address basic shelter, food and sanitation needs.

The road into this area was difficult even for our 4x4 trucks, with
boulders, mud and giant tree limbs all about us. As we approached the
area, the impact of the volcanic eruption became increasingly evident.
Initially we saw roofs that had collapsed from the weight of the ash and
rain. Then we started to see roofs that still stood, but the reason was
that they had been filled with thousands of holes from the flaming
volcanic rocks that fell from the sky. One family told us how they hid
under a table as the metal roof of their house was shredded by the
falling rocks. Another group told us how they sheltered in a school with
a concrete roof, but suffered oven like temperatures without water for
hours as the surrounding area was covered with the flaming rocks that
fell around them. These communities survived volcanic hail ranging in
size from a raisin to a baseball for hours… it was amazing that they
lived through it.

One thing that has clearly not survived are the local crops. Corn fields
that were almost ready to harvest were shredded by the falling rock.
Trees stand leafless with volcanic rock stuck in their limbs. The ground
is so thick with volcanic rock that all one sees is a dark landscape,
void of anything remotely resembling green. A soccer field that
previously looked like a green meadow, now looks as if it has been paved
over with asphalt. These people survive on what they can grow and now
they have lost this ability along with their homes.

As we distributed our supplies we saw how remarkable these people are.
We were greeted warmly wherever we stopped to make a distribution.
Though people were thirsty, hungry and tired, they took each donation
with gratitude and dignity. We obviously did not have enough to satisfy
the immense needs of this area, but we truly felt the positive impact
these donations made. These people are strong in body and mind and with
our support they can rebuild their lives and communities.

I would like to send a huge “Thank you!” for your emails of support and
offers to help me pay for supplies. So far I have been financing this
effort myself along with a few donations from families here in Antigua.
If you would like to help, please use this website to make a
contribution using a credit card
(freedomthroughfriendship.blogspot.com). At the final checkout step,
please put my name in the “Add special instructions to seller” field so
that your help will be sent my way. If you would like to send a check,
please make it payable to Hugo Suarez and mail it to 5a Calle Poniente
#20, Antigua Guatemala S.A.

peace,

Hugo Suarez

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Humanitarian Crisis in Guatemala

Those of you who follow events in Guatemala have heard of the recent catastrophic storm that occurred this past weekend. Over 100,000 people are newly homeless, and those numbers will grow as the landslides are cleared and more villages are accessed.
FFF has pledged to donate our profit from coffee and key chains over the next two weeks toward the support of those working in rural Guatemala to help those most in need. We will wire the funds directly to two  community leaders in the villages who we know are first-responders in rural Guatemala.
Thankfully, all of our FFF single mother's have now been contacted and we know they are safe.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Finding Freedom Coffee Arrives

Introducing our Finding Freedom through Friendship select label ground coffee.
FFF will ship 2 bags directly to any donor who contributes
$25 to our organization. This coffee originates in Columbia and Guatemala and is a specialty pack just for our organization. Our label design is a donation of services from Rae House, at Raehouse.com here in Lexington, KY.
She did an excellent job of capturing the essence of what FFF is seeking to do in Guatemala.
For those of you who do not need a key chain, this is a great way to still contribute to our cause.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How You Can Make a Difference by Purchasing a Key Chain

Finding Freedom through Friendship,Inc., makes it easy to assist a mother in crisis in rural Guatemala.
By sending a $25 donation (no tax) to our PayPal account, and e-mailing us at green71957@aol.com with your key chain of choice (# is below each item), you will provide food for two weeks for a selected single mother or elderly woman. You can also mail a check made out to FFF to 1781 Eastwood Dr., Lexington, KY 40502 with a note telling me which key chain(s) you wish to have.
Your key chain will be sent via U.S. mail, and you will receive photos of the woman in rural Guatemala who is the fortunate recipient of your gift of food. Arrangements can be made for those willing to sponsor a particular woman on a regular basis.
Our key chains are made with volunteer labor and donated beads from our board members. Each one is carefully crafted and comes with a lifetime guarantee. They make wonderful gifts, while offering a gift in return.

Mission Statement

Finding Freedom through Friendship, Inc., was established to meet the needs of single mother's and elderly women in the villages of rural Guatemala. The chronic stress of poverty, illiteracy and high birth rates have created an acute need for support services for indigenous women in the highlands of this Central American country. Recent crop failures are resulting in historically high food shortages.
Our goal is to assist participants in FFF with nutrition, social services, economic freedom and basic health care needs. By networking with long-term volunteers in rural Guatemala, we will strengthen our ability to make a significant and long-lasting difference in the lives of women who we identify as having critical domestic issues.
The women of Guatemala are resilient, and they each have a story to share. Through the sharing of resources, knowledge and friendship, we hope to travel with them in their journey to self-reliance. Each donor will receive a photo and short history of the woman who is the recipient of support. FFFvolunteers will oversee the delivery of food and support services in Guatemala. Our eventual goal is to partner in the development of a product that will be produced and sold by the indigenous women we have in our program.Our hope for each client we serve is that they will eventually be self-sufficient and able to rotate out of our program. Each single mother is required to educate her children and give back to the program in whatever way she is able.
Finding Freedom through Friendship has secured NP IRS status. Funding is received via the gift of beaded key chains (below) and individual donations of financial support.
Each key chain is made by hand by FFF board members, using only the highest quality beads. For each twenty-five dollar donation to Finding Freedom through Friendship,the donor receives a key chain of their choice as a thank-you for helping us help others. While creating each one, we like to think of the women we will connect with using the funds from this project.

Our Newest Client with bags of donated beans, maize, etc.


One of our Finding Freedom facilitators was able to deliver the first FFF donation of food to this family two days ago. In his words:
Juana who is widow and her family that is extremely poor. No words can describe how happy she and her family became receiving the food.I also helped so that Manuela’s son started to study. Manuela is Juana’s daughter and she is also widow. So now he should have started to go to school for the first time this year. His results from previous studies are good. I received a list on what school material he needs. I bought the same day a pencil, rubber, eraser, and a note book. I will try to buy the rest of school materials he needs as soon as possible. That includes a book, and also tennis shoes. This time I also bought toothpaste and bread to the family.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Our newest elderly client

This is Magdalena, and her grand daughter who shares her name. This newest client to FFF was referred by a local community member who is concerned about the lack of food for Magdalena. Although she has family members, they are very poor and often can't afford to feed themselves or her. She is shown on the bed where she sleeps in a kitchen.
As a widow, Magdalena falls into a precarious aspect of Guatemalan culture..aging women with failing health who are no longer able to perform the wood-gathering and farming chores necessary to provide for their means.
Finding Freedom through Friendship will provide this new client with monthly food staples, a mattress and school supplies for her granddaughter.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Maria and her children receive second food donation since January

Thanks to all of you who purchased key chains during the first quarter of this year. Our food distributions are able to continue on a routine basis to the eight single mother's we are currently assisting. The news coming out of Guatemala regarding the food crisis is is alarming. Guatemala currently has the 4th highest rate of pediatric malnutrition of any country in the world.
Maria has not heard from her husband in several years, since he left for the United States. In January her adobe mud brick home burned, leaving her without a structurally sound house. FFF is working toward securing a rental home for her. 

The need for FFF's work in Guatemala is highlighted below.

Friday, April 9, 2010

LACK OF FUNDING FOR GUATEMALAN FOOD CRISIS APPEAL SPARKS CONCERN AT UN

LACK OF FUNDING FOR GUATEMALAN FOOD CRISIS APPEAL SPARKS CONCERN AT UN
New York, Apr 9 2010 2:10PM
More than a month after the United Nations and its aid partners appealed for $34 million to respond to the food crisis in Guatemala, less than 10 per cent of that amount has been received, prompting UN officials to express concern today over the plight of the estimated 680,000 people in need.Guatemala has been hit by a prolonged drought, one of the worst in the country in three decades, resulting in severe food shortages that have exacerbated the country's chronic malnutrition problem, Elisabeth Byrs, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (<"http://ochaonline.un.org/">OCHA) told reporters in Geneva.
An estimated 43 per cent of Guatemalan children below the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition, one of the worst rates in the world.
But so far only $2.9 million has been received in the appeal, according to OCHA.
The rise in acute malnutrition, including clinical cases of kwashiorkor and marasmus, has hit the so-called 'dry corridor' in the east and centre of Guatemala particularly hard.
Kwashiorkor is a malnutrition-related illness, which results from a protein deficiency in a person's diet. Symptoms include a swollen abdomen in children, diarrhoea, skin peeling and reddish hair pigmentation. Marasmus is also the result of malnutrition and causes children to look emaciated with extensive tissue and muscle loss.
Funds sought in the appeal are intended to complement national relief efforts and provide support for food, health, nutrition, agriculture and early recovery projects, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene projects for six months for people living in departments in the east of the country, including the 'dry corridor' РJutiapa, Santa Rosa, Zacapa, Chiquimula, El Progreso and Baja Verapaz Рand the neighbouring Izabal and Quich̩ departments.
The effects of the drought have been made worse by rising food prices, a decrease in remittances because of the global financial crisis, cost increases for agricultural items, such as fertilizer and pesticides, and a decrease in job opportunities.
Apr 9 2010 2:10PM

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Maria receives food donation for her children

 
Maria found Finding Freedom through Friendship while some of our board members were visiting her community during  a sugical team trip with another organization. This was one determined mama! Maria made her way past the hospital guards late in the evening, ran up to our (with three small children hangning onto her skirts and back) group as we left the hospital and made it clear that she needed medicine for her three year old who suffers with hepatitis. 
Our pharmacy was already locked for the night. After hearing this, Maria broke down emotionally and shared her story with our group of medical volunteers. We all gathered some money for her, gave her snacks from our backpacks, and watched as she ran off in the dark, most likely afraid of getting robbed of her new-found donation of a small sum of money. 
FFF volunteers couldn't get Maria and her children off of our minds once we returned to the states. Her husband had left her with four children, she had no food to meet their needs and her son was sick. Although Guatemala has many women in this same situation, Maria seemed to have found her way to us, despite a two hour walk in the dark with her children, for a reason. We were meant to help. 
FFF board members Fabiola and Vinicio from Guatemala, rented a truck, purchased food and school supplies and traveled to Maria's home two weeks ago with the goods bought by FFF donated funds. 
The photo above was taken on that day.