Mayan Partners

Mayan Partners

Mayan Partners is a 501c(3) non-profit organization with its roots in a group of alumni from Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship at UC Davis. Our vision is to partner with Quiche and Tzutuhil communities in the western Guatemalan highlands in the development of schools, the introduction of efficient woodburning stoves, and medical clinics that have strong local support. Part of our mission is to attempt to rigorously evaluate the impact of these efforts whenever possible, for possible reproduction in other communities. The home base for our work is San Pedro La Laguna (shown above) located on the shore of Lake Atitlan.

Currently our focus is the development and ongoing support of the Panyebar Middle School, a non-denominational Christian school with approximately 60 students from the local area. In this community, located in the mountains above Lake Atitlan, there is poor access to middle school. Dropout rates after grade six are extremely high in the area, and we endeavor to reverse this trend.

A group of lead supporters that form the core of our network help to support the school, with a number of other friends (and friends of friends) who also contribute through sponsoring individual students at the school, participating in trips to Guatemala, and other practical ways.

We desire to begin with involving others in our respective social networks in this partnership with the local Guatemalans, taking work groups to the area regularly, and taking on additional projects as more individuals become involved. Our goal is to work through friendships with one another and with the local Guatemalans, with long-term relationship building a key aspect of our vision.

We are a network of Christian friends who attend different churches, and we partner with local Guatemalan churches, but we welcome involvement from anyone interested in providing opportunities and an escape from poverty for the rural poor in western Guatemala.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer 2013 Trip to Paneybar

We returned June 24th from our journey to visit our partners in Guatemala, 19 people in our group that consisted of a teaching team and a health team. We had a wide diversity of ages, several InterVarsity alumni from the 1980s (ages anonymous), a group of eight people 19-25, and four of our little kids ages 8-10. Great trip and we want to also thank those of you that contributed money for some of the college and post-college students to go.

While we were in Panyebar we visited the school every day during the week and the education team did activities with the teenagers at the school as well as with younger kids in the community library that we also support. This library is humble, but with hundreds of books for all ages, located in two rooms in the village civic building. Kids go there after school to read, work on art projects, do homework under adult supervision (which is the part MP is supporting). This is the only place like it in the area we believe, where kids have a quiet place to go and read after school.

The health team, which included two nurses, Brooke Turley and Barb (Warmath) Derthick from UC Davis days, did a public health seminar each morning, and did home visits to attend to sick people during the afternoons. Panyebar is a very poor village and we saw some very sick people, some of them had terminal illnesses, including a 4-year-old girl named Pamela whom I will never forget. But we were able to pray with people and care for them with what medicine and resources we had. It was a moving experience for all of us, including the four InterVarsity nursing students from USF.
We had set up special time while we were there to renegotiate a new contract for the school building with Pastor Emilio, who owns the land and the building. He is going to step aside as the de facto leader of the school, and the Colegio Bethel school committee headed by Pastor Juan Ajcaj will now be the official directors of the school.

Because of the new contract negotiation for the rent on the school building, we need to raise another $200/month to sustain our support of the school. If you are not currently sponsoring the school and would like to, please consider monthly support of anywhere between $20 - $100. (The bulk of the support of the school and library comes from 14 families who give $75-100 per month.) You can start sponsoring the school by clicking one of these buttons on the right. Thanks so much for considering this. In supporting MP, none of your money goes to overhead or administrative expenses since we are all volunteers--it all goes right to the school and the library and we can see it working.
And just to be clear on our finances, we send about $2,500 each month down to support the school. Given that the school has 65 kids in it, Mayan Partners is supporting a child in school for every $33.84 per month we send down, essentially a dollar a day to keep a teenager in school during the critical middle school years. The education is quite good--the kids in our school on average do much better on the government tests than other schools in the area. Even better, the vast majority of our kids go on to high school and even a few are now starting to go to college--the first in the village!

In terms of prayer requests, please if you could keep in your prayers the transition into leadership for the school committee and the dreams they have to expand the school ultimately to include a high school program as well as increased enrollment in the middle school grades. We would also love to be able to finish the building, which will require about $15,000. Pray for the kids in our school, who face all of the temptations that our kids face here, plus they have to deal with all of the difficulties of living in extreme poverty, where their parents typically have less than four years of education and their family income is less than $5/day. The coffee harvest was lousy this year--affected by a virus and lower world prices than last year--many families are really struggling in Panyebar.


     (front): Rachelle, Daly, Bethany, Brooke; (back): Sarah V, Monica, Sarah N, Catrina, Ian, Jonathan, Barb, Steve

 Kids at our school.

View from the School (Wow.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer 2011 Trip to Panyebar

Three of the UC Davis InterVarsity alumni families traveled to Panyebar this summer to visit the school and meet with our friends in the village. The three families were those of Ron and Amanda Giles and their three kids, Ethan (15) Elaine (13), and Laurel (10); Ed and Lisa Snyder and their two boys Dominic (13) and Andrew (12). Leanne and I also went with our daughter Allie (7). (Little Kayla, 21 months, had to stay behind with grandma.) We were in the village for a week, June 11-18, and then two of the families spend an extra week in Guatemala before returning home.

The main point of the trip was relational, mainly to check in and see how the school was doing, catch up with the teachers and students, but we did manage to actually do some work.

With the help of helped repaint the basketball court and some of the walls at the school, and we also fixed the baños, for which the water intake had become clogged (and some fiend had made off with the toilet seats).

Overall Colegio Bethel Panyebar is in good shape. There are more kids at the school, about 75 now, than ever before, and they are expecting that there may be as many as 100 next year. They have noticed that a large number of kids are finishing sixth grade in the regional primary schools, and so the teachers want to try to offer two classes of Primer Basico (7th grade) starting in the beginning of the school year next January. To do this, some construction needs to happen on the new second level--a new banister needs to be installed to keep kids from falling off. This is important work and we covet your prayers and possible financial support for this project.

There are some challenges that have arisen related to Catholic-Evangelical issues among the staff. We are hoping and praying that they can be resolved in a fair and even-handed way, and that the school can continue to serve all children in the village regardless of denomination.

The school is seeing fantastic continuation rates into later secondary school. Nearly all of the graduates go on to the equivalent of 10th grade in either Santa Clara, Solola, or Quetzaltenango, where there is a little community of our former graduates all living together in some apartments!

Thank you for your wonderful financial support of what God is doing up in this small village in Guatemala!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Environmental and Health Impacts from the Introduction of Improved Wood Stoves: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Guatemala

Kent Moriarty of Mayan Partners, Dan Ludwinski, and Bruce Wydick wrote a paper on the impact of the the high-tech Onil wood stoves Mayan Partners introduced in Panyebar in 2009. The paper was recently accepted at Development, Environment, and Sustainability, a journal edited at Cornell University. Thank you all for your donations to the wood stove project. The good news is that they really work! Here is the abstract to the paper:

Abstract: Improved wood-burning stoves offer a possible solution that can simultaneously impact both problems of deforestation and problems of respiratory health in developing countries. We carry out a field experiment in which new fuel-efficient wood stoves were allocated in a Guatemalan village via the use of a lottery. A 2008 baseline survey was carried out on 2,148 individuals in 351 households, and then a follow-up survey was carried out in 2009, four months after households received the stoves. We find that households with the new stoves reduced wood consumption by an average of 59.1%. We also find indications of reductions in indoor air related health problems, where point estimates indicate a significant reduction in reported respiratory symptoms by 48.6% among women and 63.3% among children.

To read the full article, use the following link:

Trip to Guatemala planned for June 2011

We are planning a trip to Guatemala for June 2011, tentatively June 10-19, although these dates could change a little bit. There are several possible activities we might pursue while we are there: doing another medical clinic, discussing the possibility of a wood stove business in Panyebar, a basketball clinic, and a work project on the school. Please e-mail Bruce if you are interested in going this year!

Monday, April 5, 2010

March 25, 2010

Colegio Bethel, Panyebar – a small Christian junior high in the Guatemalan highlands, a lovely though very poor place. Not too much influence in world events, I suppose. So why continue to support such a place?

Well, because of kids like Hermosillo, a student who graduated last year. Hermosillo is the first generation in his family to go to school. He’s bright, thoughtful and ambitious. His family weaves the brilliant skirts that women wear but the business is not profitable enough to send him to school past 9th grade. Talking with him and his family in Panyebar before we left last May, Hermosillo shared his greatest ambition: to become a doctor. A doctor. His mom shrugged her shoulders and quietly stated their hopelessness. “How are we going to do that?” But after graduation in October, Hermosillo applied for a prized full government scholarship to a boarding high school only an hour away. And he got it. He was well prepared, a good deal because of his time studying at Colegio Bethel.

Ten of Colegio Bethel’s eleven graduates in October 2009 are now in high school, unheard of in this community even five years ago. And so it’s worth it. These kids may not change the larger world yet, but they will have influence on those in their community and country.

How, then, do we all continue to support Colegio Bethel, Panyebar? By doing as Mayan Partners has been doing for several years now. First and foremost we pay the teachers’ salaries. We work with the new local Board of Directors, empowering them to look after the school and its students. We keep in weekly phone contact with the directors so they are assured of our prayers and concern. We work to support the fledgling community library so that books are available for students from preschool to high school. And we pray, for Colegio Bethel, its leaders, the Panyebar community and for Guatemala.

Mayan Partners is in the process of becoming an independent non-profit. This will relieve some of the burden on Proyecto Fe that has so graciously helped us and the school. So hopefully by the summer, you will write your checks directly to Mayan Partners. We will let you know when the change occurs.

If you have any questions regarding the school, or would like to be included in more detailed updates, please let Bruce or us know.

Oh, and send your encouragement to the Colegio Bethel Girls Soccer Team which is going to the State competition in mid-April! Congratulations to the girls and their coach, Victoriano!

Peace be with you,

Ann and Kent Moriarty

On behalf of Mayan Partners

Friday, June 19, 2009

Greetings from Guatemala, where the tortillas are toasty and warm and the weather is rainy and cold. (It´s winter here--the rainy season.) I'm down here for a couple of weeks starting a research project with Compassion International with my graduate students and checking up on our school in Panyebar. I've been up to the village twice to see how the school is doing and check up on our stove project.

Overall, despite a number of challenges which I'll describe later, Colegio Bethel Panyebar is doing great. The kids seem happy, the teachers are being paid (thanks to the Lord working through all of you), and a new committee of partents, teachers, and pastors is helping to guide the school to the next level.

The "success rate" of our kids after they finish Tercero Basico (9th grade) at the school is remarkable. A huge percentage go on to high school in Quetzaltenango or Solola, the bigger cities an hour or two away after they finish, maybe 60-70%. The first batch of kids who graduated from the school three years ago are now finishing their "Diversificado" (high school). One cool anecdote--A group of them, four guys and five girls, all about 15-18 years old, have rented a 2-bedroom appartment in Quetzaltenango, the second biggest city here--about two hours away. They cook for each other and watch out for each other as they go to different high schools and trade schools in the city. Most of them are Christians and they have this little community together in the Big City, all from the village. They're studying to be teachers, accountants, electricians, and some are doing university preparation. Quite a jump from coming from families where the average parental education is approximately 2 years for moms and 3 years for dads.
Many want to be teachers, which is good, because in this country there are a lot of kids to teach.

The new school committee is working great. They have got all the families to pay a small tuition of $7.50 per month. Anyone who can´t pay can help the custodian clean up on a Saturday, and they´re good for their tuition. The school has 56 kids now, the most it has had, although the goal is to have about 80-90.

The school faces some real challenges. We still have a ways to go before the school is really "finished" in terms of physical structure. Right now the school is not physically safe. We need about $1500 to put in a guardrail to keep the kids from falling off the main story which is elevated about 8 feet above the basketball court. The south wall of the classrooms leaks and needs exterior finishing, about $200 worth of work. In the larger scope of things, about $20,000 is needed to finish the upper level of classrooms, which need windows, flooring, electricity, desks, and fixtures. They want to add a computer room up there, and maybe we can help them with that. Also, the field below the basketball court needs leveling and a fence. It would make such a huge difference if somehow we could pull together this money along with our partners in Proyecto Fe in Alaska, who are planning a trip down in November I believe.

I also had a chance to visit 5-6 familes who had received one of the woodstoves people have purchased. Kent and a local guy here, Victoriano, installed 30 stoves this spring after the 5 a bunch of us put in last June. Wow. These things seem to be working fantastically. Every family I visited reported that they went from using 2-3 cargas of wood (about 60 pounds--what a person can carry from cutting in the forest in one trip) to only 1 carga. This saves each family half a day's work, or $2 (15 quetzales) if they buy it. Total savings in wood over a year then is about $100, the cost of a stove. This also means that the 35 stoves will save about 110,000 pounds of wood being chopped from the forest every year--not a small impact on local deforestation. Moreover, they produce much less indoor smoke. None of the houses smelled like smoke to me when I visited, and people reported fewer problems with kids coughing and lung problems. My RA Laine is doing a second wave village survey here in August, so we can get some real econometric impacts of the stoves, but so far in my small sample, the evidence is pretty darn good. Thanks to Jim for the stove idea, Kento for all his hard work putting them in, and many of you for buying them for people so we could do this field experiment in the village. We'll probably be publishing the results somewhere (informally) so others can learn from this experience as well.

You have no idea how thankful people are here for your support.

Peace and blessings.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Mayan Partners Update

Greetings Mayan Partners. An update on a few things:

First, Kent and Ann are back from Guatemala after living in our village, Panyebar, for four months. It seems like their time there really went well. Kent coordinated finishing the bathrooms, Ann taught in the school, and they also helped install 35 of the environmentally friendly (and lung-friendly) woodstoves many of you helped finance. (We will be evaluating the stoves this summer to assess their impacts; our introduction of them was done as a randomized controlled trial with treatment and control groups.) For more on their trip, you can check out their blog at

Second, I wanted to discuss an issue brought up by some of the Mayan Partners who give through individual child sponsorships. This was a model that we introduced a few years ago to raise funds for the school in its initial stages. Since then, two things have happened: We have begun to encourage people to sponsor the *school* for the long-term rather than individual students. Second, these students that were individually sponsored have graduated from the school. All of these funds whether given in the name of an individual student or to support the school directly go to pay for teacher salaries so that the students can attend without paying high tuition. This is the same model that many organizations use that connect people with individual students, but in the future, we would like to encourage people who are giving through individual sponsorships to switch their giving to support the school in general, and even increase giving if possible, perhaps to $40 or $50 a month, which would be a big help.

If you'd like to have contact with an individual student--that is great--and when I'm in Panyebar next week I can try to get you matched up with a student who has an e-mail account. One thing we ask though is that you don't send individual gifts to your student. We have found this makes others in the village jealous and in the end seems to do more harm than good. Also, if you have sponsored a student in the past and would like to know what he or she is doing these days, I can find that out for you when I go down.

Third, I'm going down to Guatemala next week to check up on the school and to carry out an impact study with some graduate students related to the work of Compassion International with other schools in the area. Also, we're going to re-survey Panyebar to see if the public health programs we did last year had any impact, and to assess the impact of the woodstoves. If anyone would like me to find out anything while I'm down there or make contact with anyone, I'd be happy to do that. One important thing I need to do on a personal level is to visit with the family of our former student we sponsored, Lourdes, who tragically passed away due to pregnancy complications last fall.

Peter, Jim, and I talked with the people at Proyecto Fe last week--excellent folks. They have been helping us channel our donations through their 501c(3) and asked us to contribute a little bit to their overhead, so we're going to contribute $150 per month, which seemed right to us. (About 10% of our monthly fundraising.) Peter is also going to be helping them with their bookkeeping and financial accounting.

Francisco, the head teacher, has said that the school would like to install a computer classroom soon. Anyone out there interested in helping with that project during this next year?

Also, we have dreams of adding three grades some day to make Colegio Bethel, Panyebar a six-year middle school + high school. It would be the only one in the area (big area). To carry these things out, we'll need more Mayan Partners and donors, and I want to highly encourage everyone to talk to friends about joining our team, and even bringing them down with you to visit the school in Panyebar. Pray that the ministry might flourish!

MayanTrekers 2013 (Sans Kids)

MayanTrekers 2013 (Sans Kids)
(front): Sarah, Rachelle, Daly, Bethany, Brooke; (back): Leanne, Catrina, Monica, Sarah, Bruce, Ian, Barb, Steve

Waiting Room for Medical Clinic

Waiting Room for Medical Clinic
We've carried out clinics in mountain communities, most recently in June 2008, and also in 2006 and 2003. This picture is from a clinic in San Miguelito in 2003. On our latest trip, Brooke and the medical students treated over 300 patients.

Mayan Partners Trip to Guatemala June 2008

Mayan Partners Trip to Guatemala June 2008
There were 32 people on the trip: 7 UC Davis InterVarsity Alumni, 3 spouses of alumni, 3 other members of Mayan Partners from Berkeley, 8 kids, 4 InterVarsity Undergraduates (USF & UOP), and 3 grad students. Bottom Row: Jim, Bruce, Jocelyn, Leanne, Allie, Miguel, Ron, Dave, Ariel, Naka. Top Row: Thomas, Kristina, Adrienne, Elise, Keith, Renee, Brooke, Monica, Cameron, Ethan, Jodie, Amanda, Troy, Everett, Cole, Brooke, Robb, Allison, and Pete.