- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.fBBcEurs.dpuf Casa de Sion: April 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mama and Tots program - help malnourished children and mothers in Guatemala

Casa de Sion is currently raising money to feed malnourished children in Guatemala. Read about the crisis and learn how you can help provide infant formula for at-risk children in poor Mayan communities.

Baby Carlos, an at-risk child in Guatemala, receives nutritious infant formula from the Momma and Tots program.
Little Carlos is a Mayan baby in Los Robles,
Guatemala who receives life-saving infant
formula through the Mama and Tots program.
One of the saddest things we see in rural Guatemala is children that are seriously handicapped--usually both mentally and physically. Perhaps a case of a mother that was starving when she conceived and did not get proper nutrition during her pregnancy and did not have enough breast milk to feed her child. Here is the United States, we sometimes forget that third world countries do not have a social safety net; there is no Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program if you are poor. Consequently, many children are permanently disabled for life in a country that cares very little for its poor.

The idea of the "Mama and Tots" program was conceived when a relative of one of our employees had a two month old baby die because the mother did not have enough breast milk. We felt awful because we would have helped if we had only known. Now we know and therefore Casa de Sion provides pregnant moms with one egg a day and prenatal vitamins.  Infants up to one year old receive infant formula and pre-school children receive a nutrient-dense soy drink called Incaparina. It doesn't seem like much, but it makes all the difference in the world to these young children.

The formula we provide to supplement breast-feeding mothers costs $20/month and it is the most expensive part of the program. This is far beyond the reach of these needy folks who subsist on $1/day. Over the last three years we have saved several infant lives and delivered many, many more from permanent retardation. 

We are asking for a one-time donation of $10 to help buy a two month supply of this formula. It is an easy to give on Crowdtilt, only takes minutes to do and all donations are tax-deductible.

Please donate and help spread the word!

Vicki Dalia, Casa de Sion

Friday, April 19, 2013

Feinstein Foundation

Remember the Feinstein Foundation give away last year?   Mr. Feinstein is a normal guy from RI--normal with lots of money.  And every year he gives away $1 million dollars to agencies that are feeding the poor. That's us!!!  ALL money/formula that is donated to Safe Homes for Children/Casa de Sion in March and April will be counted towards this, and he will give us some of his million in proportion to the amount we have raised in these two months.  Last year we raised over $10,000 with your donations and Mr. Feinstein gave us enough to add a couple more mothers to our feeding program.

So how can you help?
If you are a monthly supporter who hasn't donated in a while--please now is the time to donate again.
If you were planning on donating at some point this year--please do it before the end of April.
If you donated last year but haven't given any in 2013--give during the next two weeks.
Or, if you have formula laying around--get it to me during April--I can count $1/lb (meaning if you were going to buy formula full-price, don't, just donate the amount that you where going to spend, it will count as more in this campaign and we will buy formula in Guatemala with your money.)

So use the donate button on the blog or send me a check (made out to Safe Homes for Children) 267 West Hill Rd, Stamford, CT 06902

Please pass this around to your friends, and asked them to get involved.  We will keep you up to date. on our progress again this year.

My thoughts on the book "Half The Sky"

So I have just fiinished reading "Half The Sky" by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. An amazing book that speaks to several issues very...close to my heart. One issue they repeatedly comment on is how educating girls changes countries.

Here's a quote:  "Consider the cost of allowing half a country's human resources to go untapped. Women and girls cloistered in huts, uneducated, unemployed, and unable to contribute significantly to the world represent a vast seam of human gold that is never mined." He could have been speaking of the Mayan mamas in the country of Guatemala that we serve. This is their life. But they and we want a different life for their daughters. An educated life, an employed life that contributes significantly to their community and their country. A life that is not malnourished.

We have girls that want to be educated. We have women that want to be educated. The pictures above represent some of the ones in our communities that want an education. The child in the yellow embroidered shirt is one of them. She went to 6th grade twice so she wouldn't have to quit school. Now her family can not afford to send her to middle school.

Learn how you can help.
You can send her and other girls to school by clicking on the donate button.

Vicki, 20.vicki@gmail.com


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Disabled in a Third World Country

Eight years ago in March, we were living in Guatemala and working on getting a permanent location. We lived just outside Antigua. One bright sunny day, my husband and I had just had a massage. Without thinking I went to walk into the 2 steps down living room to watch a movie with our kids. The steps were wood, my foot was covered in massage oil and it slid down 2 steps in between the hugh couch leg and the step. I fell and my world stood still. My ankle was so broken the joint was hanging down, kept from fallin to the floor by my skin. I screamed, the kids ran for their dad and our massage guy who was very bilingual. They loaded me into the van and we went off to experience a reoccuring nightmare I had been having for the last year. Surgery in a third world country. Luckily we were friends with the mission pres. for the Mormon church. He was called and we were told of an excellent hospital in the City for those who could pay. TTL we could pay. He also called the orthopedic doctor for the church who met us there. The doc had trained at Duke Hospital in Durham, NC, USA. I had excellent care, a 2 hour operation, a two day hospital stay and 1 month as a  disabled person in a wheelchair in a third world country. No bathrooms that my wheelchair could make it into, including the bath where we lived, a husband who was definitely not Mr. Nurturer, but a 12 year old daughter who stayed by my side and helped me a lot. I got majorly depressed because of the lack of facilities for disabled people and the fact I could not go anywhere and if I did, I was treated as subhuman. Finally we returned to the USA and even tho I had 5 more months in the wheelchair, I also had PT, handicap baths and empathy. I survived as did my marriage. I already had a lot of empathy for those disabled as my PTSD has been with me since a child, but now I had even more esp. for those in wheelcahirs.
So when the Tocayche sweetheart lady, Esmeralda, came into my life, she went straight to my heart. Disabled since birth with a low IQ, she barely walks or talks. We are helping her and her 7 year old daughter with food and we recently got her a wheelchair. When Mario took it to her, the little girl in the yellow, her daughter, cried and cried. She thought we were taking her mother away. Mario patiently [ he is so good at that] explained to her that it was to help her mom get around the house and dirt yard. Finally the child caught on and then was happy.
My next dream for Esmeralda is for her to go to PT and speech therapy in Panajachel It will cost about $40.00 a month for transport for her and her sister who will take her. Please give now so we can take her to the next step.
Vicki 20.vicki@gmail.com

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Adding A New Mayan Community

One of the difficult things about working with the Mayans in Guatemala is having budget constraints. In other words, we only have enough money to do so much, no matter how great the need. Hence the reason I go around begging people like you for money. Combined with the fact that I believe people are blessed when they give from their abundance.
These pictures represent what we are forced to think about before we agree to take on another of the 25 Mayan communities waiting for our services. All these folks are from the community of Tocache. We recently added them as one of our communities.

We will do a lunch program 3 days a week for the 60 elementary school kids and the 49 mamas and tots. That is 109 people. Kids Against Hunger is partnering with us on this, but we still add veggies, chicken, beans and eggs to the menus. Then if we come across an infant with failure to thrive we will add formula or a tot with no growth we will add incaparina. We are not going to routinely give out formula and incaparina to this community, but feed the mamas and tots more regularly and hope that takes care of the malnourishment issues we deal with.
While assessing this community, I discovered the little girl in the picture peeking in the classrooms with a defintie longing to learn in her eyes. When I investigated, I found she had graduated 6th grade, but had no money to go  to middle school. Investigating further I found there were 10 children who had to drop out of school because of money so 6th grade was as far as they could go.

The woman washing her hair was shown to us by a concerned relative. This woman was born cognitively disabled and has not had the opportunity or money for physical or speech therapies. She can not speak plainly so does not speak at all. Nor can she walk. She was raped 6 years ago and has a 5 year old daughter.

Eventually all the medically fragile people in the community will be brought to us to help. We know this ahead of time so must plan for it financially. Sometimes we just count on you good people coming forth with the funds when the need arises.
Please give what you can, so we can when the need arises. Our paypal button works for financial donations as does a check. Write me for an address for material ones.

We are starting a monthly fundraising conf. call if you want to be part of our fundraising team, write for the number for the call

thanks for what you do; I find it hard to say no when I am looking them in the eye


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Have You Got Any Extra Formula

These are pictures of the first Los Robles mama/tot program I went to when we got to Guatemala in Jan. There are 3 communities that come to this program. Around 75 mamas and 150 tots. We have 20 more mamas and 30 tots that want to come from another community, but we are waiting for more support from people like you all before we take on the extra financial responsibility.
Everyone that comes wants to show off their new and old babies to Dona Vicki [ that's me]. So I act like the patron saint of babies and hold and kiss them all. Not hard for me to do as I love babies. Definitely feel like the Lord's handmaiden as I do this. It is also the time that the mamas bring me their medically fragile little ones and ask for the help they need for them. Again I can never say no.
I bring my children to these meetings so they can help serve. The older down syndrome boy in the pictures is my 15 year old adopted son, Seth.
One reason we are cautious about taking more mama/tots is we give out formula and incaparina. Under 1 and mama has insufficient  breast milk, formula is given. 1-5 and you get incaparina. Enough for one cup a day of this nutritional supplement. We now have our mama/tot program every Thurs. in some community. Over 250 mamas and 500 infant/tots total. Our newest community we are inviting our pregnant and nursing mamas to eat lunch 3 times a week with the school children. We are hoping this will cut down on the need for formula and increase the breast milk. But there will still be mamas who come to us and show us their malnourished baby and ask for formula.
So do you have any formula??? If so mail it to me and I will take it down. We had an Eagle Scout collect 5 suitcases full of formula. We took it all down. Each team that comes brings formula. Right now we spend $2000 a month for formula and that includes all the donated cans. Please collect it for us from your friends and church. And mail it to me. Write me at 20.vicki@gmailcom for my address.

Thanks Vicki

Monday, April 01, 2013

Volunteer Vacations

We have 9 teams coming so far this year, 8 thru the month of June. We love teams coming. No only do they help the communities they work in, but when they stay in our volunteer housing they provide much needed money for our programs.
If you have thought of gathering a group of people and coming to help, please do and let us know so we can reserve your spot. Here is the letter we recently composed to send to team members. Maybe it will help get you psyched up to come and help. We have a medical team here now and I will be posting some of their pictures some.


Los Robles, Guatemala

Dear Volunteer:


Thank you for sacrificing your time and hard-earned money to make a difference in the lives of the Mayan Indians.  The United Nations has rated the Highlands of Guatemala as fourth in the world for chronic malnutrition and you will soon experience why and understand something about our dedication.  You will also get to enjoy the hospitality of Mario and Dominga, our leaders.  Past teams give them very high marks.


There is some concern about financial integrity among certain non-profits, and we want to say upfront that all monies donated to Safe Homes go into the Guatemalan programs.  Currently, there is no US overhead.  We take no salary or money for travel or anything else.  You can be assured that any donations you make go into the programs you intended them for. 


Our work there started ten years ago as a family project, but as you are about to experience, the need far exceeds our resources.  While you are down there, think about partnering with us on a long term basis.  We have over 60 children in these outlying areas attending middle and high school and many of them need sponsors to be able to continue—in Guatemala  only primary school is free.  The Mommas & Tots feeding program provides prenatal nutrition as well as supplemental infant formula and incaparina, a soy-based nutritional drink, to 250 mothers and 450 children per month.  We have after-school feeding and tutorial programs nurturing 360 children.   We have programs in five communities with over 25 more communities begging us to add them.    We also give away hundreds of pounds of clothes and shoes each year as well as provide medical and dental clinics.  We provide the more complicated medical care for about 25 medically fragile children.  We are in the process of opening an orphanage for children who have been abandoned or have no family to take them in.


After all this time helping in Guatemala we have come to the conclusion that we cannot change things ourselves but can provide the catalyst through these programs for these young people to change their own future.


Here are a few Dos and Don’ts for your safety:

·         Drink only bottled water that is provided and that goes for brushing your teeth.

·         Be discreet with any valuables (cell phones & computers) and cash.

·         Do not give out money.  It gives the wrong impression.   If you want to help, do it through us.  We will give you the credit.

·         We try to avoid traveling after dark and suggest you do the same.

·         Please do not tip the employees.  We pay them above the local “going rate.”  If you see some area of need, work through us.  Again, we will give you the credit.

·         This is a very modest culture:  no tank-tops, short-shorts or the like.  No bare chests.

·         The weather is cool all year round and nights are cold from November through February.  Bring warm clothes, sweatshirts and sweats.  Bring rain gear from May through October.


On your way down, here are a few things you can bring that we desperately need:  instant infant formula of any kind—this is by far our greatest need.  Secondarily are school supplies and kids’ shoes of any kind.   After you’ve returned home, think about sponsoring a child or family.  One of the simplest ways to help is to adopt a young family for $20/month in the Momma and Tots program or sponsor a student for $30/month (times 10 months).  Or sponsor an orphan for $30.00 a month.  Ask about fund-raising ideas if that interests you.  And talk to your friends about the third world poverty that you’ve seen and ask them to sponsor.  With a big enough fund-raiser, we can provide a speaker.   For smaller ones, we can provide a power point.



Vicki & Jody Dalia