Saludos Niños was originally a program run by Infantiles SOS, a Swiss NGO, in the early 2000s, one of ten such centers in the Guatemalan Highlands. In December 2013, Infantiles SOS closed all ten of the centers to focus on other projects. This left the successful program in Panyebar without funding or support. As the last day approached, Ann and Kent Moriarty happened to be visiting Panyebar, and the women reached out to them, begging them to get word to Sheila Silver and Brian Swan, a Canadian couple who had worked with them earlier. Upon returning to the US, Ann was able to contact Sheila who immediately responded. Sheila gathered supplies, equipment, and funding and within three months the center was back up and running, serving more than 55 children and their families.
Services have expanded since then to include among other things, medical care and health monitoring, cooking classes for moms, and a water filter program. Through other partnerships, the teachers receive training and support.
Many of us have visited the dedicated staff and children at Saludos Niños over the years. As a result, when the opportunity came to pay staff salaries, Mayan Partners stepped up, raising the necessary funds through personal and church donations. MP has also been involved in selling Christmas ornaments which the women make to augment their income. Ask anyone who has been to Saludos Niños and you will hear stories of energetic, excited, and bright children, poised to move into formal schooling. They are surrounded by love and encouragement.
The partnership between Mayan Partners and Saludos Niños is one example of how organizations can work together, putting aside pride and personal ownership to serve a greater good. And the even better thing is that it was the dedicated women of Panyebar who made it happen and continue to be the bedrock of this vital work.
You can find out more information by visiting the Saludos Niños website at saludosninos.org.