Wednesday, December 21, 2011

William (right, far right) is one of the first students to benefit from Finding Freedom food donations. Roland, one of our volunteers, started delivering essential food supplies to William and his mother in the fall of 2009 when FFF was first created. This photo was taken last week during the December delivery.
William will start middle school in January with funds from our program to cover his uniform, travel costs and monthly school fees. His improved nutrition and financial support from our donors are key factors in his ability to attend school beyond 6th grade. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Juana with her medication

Thanks to recent financial donations, Juana was able to receive much needed medication for her parasitic infection. The contaminated soil and water in Guatemala contributes to intestinal infections that are painful and persistent. The treatment is easily obtained, but our single mothers do not have available funds to medicate their children. Our facilitator, Roland, was able to take Juana and her mother to a local pharmacy and purchase medication for the family.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Fishing Scale and FFF

Our donors may wonder why we need to spend their donated dollars on fishing scales. Quite simply, it was at the request of our Guatemalan midwives that we assist in the rural northwestern regions. Without infant scales, the midwives have no way of knowing if the babies they follow post-birthing are getting appropriate nutrition. In an area that suffers from maternal malnutrition, this is an ongoing concern.
This simple and very portable scale will allow midwives to properly weigh blanket-wrapped infants.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Second shipment of midwifery supplies well received in Guatemala

The following is an excerpt from a recent note received regarding the last shipment of midwifery kits donated  by Finding Freedom through Friendship. 
The stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs are still a great need as we train the midwives.  The syringe bulbs, the cords, the flashlights, the vitamins are such a blessing.  A group recently asked me for some sort of bag.  Not too big as they have to travel distances on foot and at night to get to the births.  Maybe a small back pack of sorts.  Something waterproof because it rains a lot.
A special gift to the ladies like samples of perfumes from Dept Stores or hair accessories (they have long black hair) for the midwives also would be wonderful.  They do not get much pay for days of labor. They actually tend the Mommy for the first 10 days and then keep track of them for a full 4 weeks.  Their pay is very little or a chicken or so.
I am hoping to have a website someday.  It is not my greatest asset to be doing so.  This way I can post the photos, blog and keep folks like you informed on a regular basis.
You do not know what a blessing those kits have been!  I take baby clothes to the hospital for the babies that are abandoned.  There is always one or two awaiting to go to an orphanage which are very full.  Some of the clinics have very poor folks and some of the blankets have landed on their babies as it gets cold at night. (Sally York, volunteer in Guatemala)

Monday, August 15, 2011

A New Home for These Brothers in Huehuetenango, Guatemala

It is hard to imagine a more remote but beautiful area of the world than Huehuetenango, Guatemala. The mountains are steep, the greenery is lush and the area is difficult to access. This makes all of the critical needs for rural indigenous families in the area more difficult to find. Schools are far from home, land suitable for farming is scarce and poverty in this area is some of the most extreme.
Finding Freedom through Friendship is networking with another nonprofit, Adopt-A-Village, to purchase land, and built a home for two widows and their 12 children. In this unique collaboration, both organizations will use their resources to provide shelter, purchase furniture, feed the families and teach them gardening techniques.
Frances, founder of AAV, and Jody, founder of FFF, first met for dinner in Miami this past May. They felt an instant connection and had a great evening of sharing information that both organizations can utilize. The two boys above (shown leaning on corn donated by Finding Freedom) will be the beneficiaries of this evening as AAV and FFF work toward improving their future.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tomasa in Guatemala-Pretty in Pink

This beautiful teenager (above, middle) didn't feel too pretty with her former prosthetic eye, which was too small and therefore did not stay in place very well. Our facilitator, Roland, who has volunteered in Guatemala for many years, knew of a medical professional who could help Tomasa. Finding Freedom through Friendship was able to network with Roland and Mayan Families in Panajachel to have a new prosthetic eye donated to this young lady. Thank you Roland for bringing Tomasa's smile back.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A new widow in Guatemala

Finding Freedom Through Friendship usually does not provide critical supplies for married women in rural Guatemala. Our focus is single mothers who find themselves unable to feed their children or who have inadequate and unsafe housing. Supporting Manuel's family was out of the ordinarily for us, but due to his his end-stage diabetes, Manuel's wife had no financial means to support their five children. 
Manuel lost his battle with diabetes this past weekend. Thanks to our facilitator, Roland, food supplies have been delivered to this family for the last 8 months. Money was sent today to assist with the funeral expenses, which often cause a major financial strain on the family members.
Finding Freedom will continue to donate food for this family throughout 2011.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Gift of Caring- $20 (includes shipping)

The Perfect Gift that Gives Twice- $20 (includes shipping)

New Key Chains for Sale- $ 20 (includes shipping)

Each key chain we make and sell helps us feed more children who are in single-parent households in rural Guatemala.
Without a husband to provide for their children, the single mothers in our program struggle to provide adequate food, and especially protein, for their children. Selling three key chains allows us to feed one family for a month.
It's easy! Simply email me at with the key chain number you like. You can pay via PayPal or send a check.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Maria in Guatemala is all smiles thanks to her new Onil Stove

I love Maria's smile, it captivated me from the beginning of her relationship with our organization. She has the type of smile that radiates from within, despite the fact that she has little to be happy about. As a single mother of teenage children, living in a metal shack with a leaky roof and walls, Maria has the tenacity to persevere under conditions few American women can imagine. She earns less than $3 a week. Her children have few viable options for having a life any better than what they are living now. But Maria keeps smiling, and FFF will continue to seek ways to assist her with critical needs and a brighter outcome in the future.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Catarina and her daughters admire their donated stove

Catarina is now being treated for her Tuberculosis and asthma, as is her oldest daughter. The family receives monthly food staples (which include protein, carbohydrates and essential oils) from our nutrition program. Our facilitator, Roland, checks in with Catarina monthly when he delivers her food donations. His dedication to the well-being of our single mothers has allowed them to receive their stoves, filters and monthly food. To deliver these items, within the limitations of traveling in Guatemala, is difficult at best.
Catarina's household will now be a healthier place for her daughters and herself without the daily output of interior smoke when she cooks tortillas.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Febe Proudly Displays Her New Water Filter Donation

The shy smile on this six year old has nothing to do with the water filter donated to her family by Finding Freedom through Friendship. Febe is too young to realize the benefits of being able to have, for the first time, water free of bacteria.

Febe is smiling because a her photo is being taken. She has never seen a picture of herself, and she certainly is not used to being the center of attention. She and her mother most likely still wonder how they became so fortunate to have been selected to become part of our circle of concern.
We hope to see her smile change to one of confidence, as we continue to care for this family and educate Febe, so that at some point in her future, she can purchase her own water filter. And shoes!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reuters Article on Increased Food Prices in Guatemala

Mon May 2, 2011 12:01am EDT
* Poor countries in Latin America face food price hit
* Flexible foreign exchange rates help food effects
WASHINGTON May 2 (Reuters) - Sharp increases in food prices will hit poorer Latin American countries like Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Honduras the hardest, raising their inflation rates by more than 5 percentage points this year, according to a new report released on Monday.
The report by the Inter-American Development Bank, which focuses on Latin American and the Caribbean issues, said countries hardest hit were those where food makes up a large part of their overall inflation basket and they have limited or no exchange rate flexibility to fall back on.
Countries with flexible exchange rates such as Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay are able to cope better with food price rises as long as they allow their currencies to appreciate and are willing to raise interest rates, the report said.
Brazil and other large economies in the region are already struggling with currency appreciations caused by a surge in private capital inflows they blame on super low interest rates in sluggish advanced economies such as the United States.
The added pressure from higher food prices on Brazil and others is a challenge for policymakers.
"The loss of competitiveness is clearly a risk for Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, which appear to absorb international commodity price shocks through large, and permanent, exchange rate appreciations," the report noted.
Stiff rises in prices of sugar, wheat and maize have contributed to record international food prices in January and February, just three years after the last food price crisis.
Pricier food is especially difficult for the poor because studies show the bulk of their disposable income goes toward buying food and any cutback increases hunger and malnutrition.
The current price surge has been blamed on increased demand from emerging market economies such as China, increasing use of maize to produce ethanol in the United States, and slower agriculture productivity growth.
Export bans, price controls and food hoarding by some countries have also distorted global food markets, the report said, dismissing those that blame the rise on speculators.
The IADB economists noted that if food prices remain at current highs, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic and Honduras should see the most significant rise in their inflation rates of more than 5 percentage points this year.
The report singled out Guatemala as a "case for concern" since its exchange rate flexibility does not appear to prevent international food prices from passing through to domestic food prices and general inflation, the report said.
It noted that non-food inflation could also jump in several countries, including the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.
Meanwhile, inflation increases of between 2 and 5 percentage points are likely in the Bahamas, Panama and Peru. Brazil, Mexico and Colombia should see inflation rate increases of no more than an additional one percentage point, the IADB report said.
In the Caribbean and much of the Central American region, countries fix or have only very limited exchange rate flexibility and therefore feel the effects of a rise in international food prices, the report said.
In poorer Central America food has one of the highest weights in the overall consumption basket, and the urban poor are most at risk, it said.
"It is therefore necessary to increase aid to these groups and improve its targeting, perhaps through reformed conditional cash transfer schemes, to compensate for the effect of the food price surge," the institution urged.
(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Diane Craft)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New stoves for our mothers in Guatemala

New Onil stoves are being delivered to our single mothers this week thanks to a generous donation from Jennifer in Austin, Texas. Her financial gift has allowed us to purchase eight stoves for our clients, as well as water filters for each. 
The stoves will  reduce the amount of time each woman uses to chop wood (typically 6-8 hours a week), and the side shelving will prevent pediatric burns. Deforestation in Guatemala is occurring at an alarming rate. Each ONIL stove will reduce the amount of wood needed to cook a meal by 70%. 
The most important difference this gift will create will be in the health of the household members. Smoke from indoor cooking fires results in in bronchitis, asthma, chronic eye irritation and ash byproduct that permeates the home. These stoves are highly prized by rural Guatemalan mothers but the cost ($120) is prohibitive for most households. 
Water filters are essential to the health of rural residents of Guatemala. Only two of our clients owned them before this donation became available. 
We are most grateful to Jennifer for giving our Guatemalan recipients a healthier household.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Making A Difference, One Stitch At A Time

Finding Freedom through Friendship has a wonderful friend in Anne Hall, mother-in-law to board member Mary Kay Hall.
Anne was our very first donor and has continued to support our organization through financial donations, sales of our coffee and key chains and now, through her knitting. She has raised hundreds of dollars for FFF.
Anne is currently making a difference in the lives of our single mothers by knitting and then selling her beanie hats. Since the beginning of 2011, Anne has raised $500 for FFF, enough to feed all of our families in the program for a month. Great job Anne!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Catarina Struggles with Asthma

Catarina is a single mother of three lively and beautiful little girls. She was diagnosed with asthma four years ago but unfortunately this young mother has not been able to afford the medications that are critical to her lung health. She is shown above at a local health clinic when one of our FFF facilitators, Roland, discovered her problem and helped her seek appropriate care. The respirator she is holding is delivering inhalant to help Catarina through a recent asthma attack.  Although she looks like a child herself, Catarina's small stature is due in part to her chronic illness and poor diet.
FFF has sent funds to purchase her medication and to feed her family a proper diet of vegetables, protein (eggs) and carbohydrates for the next month. We hope to raise money to include her in our program on a routine basis. Roland, who is in charge of  meeting the food and housing needs of six of our clients, will deliver food to Catarina and her children by the end of this week.

Thank you

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Manuela proudly holds her school contract

Manuela is required to go to school in order to obtain the monthly food donations from Finding Freedom Through Friendship. She can be seen holding her FFF contract in the above photo. 
By requiring her family to commit to Manuela's education in order to receive their food staples, FFF is enabling Manuela and other children in rural Guatemalan families to have leverage within their household dynamic. Making sure a child attends school in the more remote areas of Guatemala takes stamina and determination. Children often have to walk long distances to get to school. They may not speak Spanish, which is spoken in schools, as a primary language. Parents may be illiterate, and therefore might not value education. School expenses often hamper desire to educate children. 
When FFF facilitators present single mothers with contracts, we are making a statement on our belief that educating their children is a collaboration of efforts between FFF and the family. The majority of our mothers have to sign using their thumbprint (as did Manuela's, note above), which demonstrates the need for education even further. As the head of their households, an illiterate single mother is more at risk for becoming the victim of theft, for being taken advantage of financially, or needing to marry in order to provide for her children. Her ability to earn a life-sustaining salary is very restricted. FFF hopes to help break the cycle of illiteracy and poverty within the households of each single mother we assist. One contract at a time!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finding Freedom through Friendship Board Members Visit Guatemala

Mary Kay, Mike and Jody recently visited the north western part of Guatemala for a week to participate in a medical mission trip. While together, we were able to meet with two of our Guatemalan board members, Fabiola and Vinicio. We were also excited to visit with Jude, who is overseeing the construction of our fifth home for a single mother in Guatemala.

Update on Poverty Indicators in Guatemala (The Guatemalan Times)

Poverty in Guatemala increased from 51% to 54.1% -55%, according to the latest data published by the Central American Business Intelligence, CABI. CABI informed that poverty, infant and maternal mortality have increased in Guatemala due to the global economic crisis between 2009 and 2010. This has severely affected local efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In their study, CABI reported that the fall in economic growth in Guatemala caused the poverty level to rise from 51 percent to 54.1 percent and in some cases to 55 percent. Among the causes that increased poverty, the agency cited the loss of formal jobs, reduction in real wages (inflation) and bankruptcy of small businesses.

The agency stressed that the annual cost to address maternal and child mortality in Guatemala is not high, it takes only 0.25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). If the investment in health is reduced it will adversely affect progress recorded in the field. The decrease of remittances of 9.3% in 2009 (Bank of Guatemala) had a very negative impact in the fight against poverty in Guatemala, in addition, despite the boost from programs like Social Cohesion, which distributes 300 Quetzals, (approximately US $ 38.4 depending on the exchange rate) per family, poverty has risen since 2007.

Guatemala has improved access to primary education and quality of education; however, there are serious deficiencies in pre-primary and basic level. The lack of sustainability of the current government’s social programs is another very important consideration for the future of the fight against poverty.

Sources: CIMAC News, The Guatemala Times, Banco de Guatemala.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Donated School Supplies On The Way to Guatemala

Finding Freedom through Friendship realizes that the only way to provide a "hand up, not a hand out" to our sponsored children is through education. In Guatemala, many single mothers can not afford school supplies for their children, and without these items children do not attend local classes.
Mark and Laura in Utah answered our need for the donation of school supplies for our sponsored students. They and their grandchildren spent time at Thanksgiving purchasing, organizing and shipping the supplies to our home office in Lexington, KY. A generous donation of crayons filled the bags with color.
Twelve rural indigenous children will now receive much needed supplies to begin the school year, which starts this week in Guatemala. Board members are preparing to hand-carry these kits down in a few days.