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.

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!

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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.