Traditional Maya Ball Game

This past weekend I went to a local coffee finca to see a presentation of a traditional maya ball game - it was to benefit the organization ChocoGuateMaya.

The game is a combination of basketball, soccer and volleyball and dates back to at least 2500 B.C. It was the first sport in the history of humanity and central to the Maya religious beliefs. It is believed to be a reenactment of a myth where the Hero Twins had to battle the gods of death of the underworld by playing a ball game. The goal of the game was to pass the ball through the ring (top right picture) without using hands and feet - hips, thighs and forearms were allowed. It not only doesn't sound easy, it doesn't look easy, but I saw it with my own eyes.

There is disagreement as to whether the losers went to sacrifice and some even say the winners went to sacrifice. Neither sounds too appealing to me.

Seeking Solar

The Solar Team: Alex, Blanca, Gaby and Blake

I came to the campsite for the first time since I've been back in Guatemala in order to enable solar experts to evaluate the camp for solar energy. With the group was Blake Manson, from Green City Development in the states, Alex, who works with Blake here in Guatemala, and Blanca and Gaby from ECO, a Guatemalan organization that works toward responsible, ecological construction for a more sustainable world.

Together, they will work with us and Capgemini employees in Poland to come up with a solar design to power the camp. We have some of the best resources helping us and I continue to be amazed at how everything just comes together when you are taking steps toward accomplishing your goals and are serious about it. Has that been your experience?

Sidenote: The world is so small. Alex is a friend of one of my house mates here and I'd met him on my first day back in Guatemala. Neither of us had any idea at the time that we'd be working together on a project. What a surprise it was to see him. I admit, I recognized his face and was having a hard time placing who he was - and he had been to my house. You know what it's like when you meet someone in one place and then you see them in a completely different context? It was like that. Sorry, Alex.

Things you see every day become normal, even when they shouldn't be

I came to Guatemala after learning that the average years of schooling in this country is four years and that 3 out of 10 children graduate the sixth grade. This is their normal. Niños del Lago is working to change that.

Niños del Lago is an educational recreational facility that gives children, who rarely see outside thier villages, the chance to experience first hand that their life is not the only life available to them. It may be the first time that the idea seeps into their being that it doesn't have to be this way.

Ninos del Lago works with the neediest children who don't have the resources to attend the public schools and are educated in local school programs offered through social development agencies. Unfortunately, many children end up leaving these classes. We incent them to stay in these schools by making it a requirement of our program. They return year after year as long as they stay in school and in their home programs and they take the lessons they learn at Camp Niños del Lago back to their peers in their community.

We're in our second year of major construction. Last year, I created the structure of the organization while Arlaine, our Founder, focused on construction. We completed cabin foundations, camp roads, roof structures and a storage facility. Together, with the help of our generous sponsors and donors, we brought Niños del Lago to the point where we can open in as short as 18 months if we stay on track with our funding.

This year, we begin construction on the main building and complete a minimum of 2 duplex cabins so that we can provide services while continuing to build to full capacity. When complete, we will receive more than 3,000 children per year.

I know many of you have met Coco before, but take another look and tell me, after you see his smile, if you'd like to help create "a new normal" for him. If someone like me can do this, we all can and you don't even have to come to Guatemala (though I would love to see you - it gets lonely sometimes). Please consider making a donation of $25 and pass this along to someone you know who wants to help make the world a better place for the children.

Let's begin 2010 by changing these things that should not be normal so that Coco can thrive and break out of his cycle of poverty! Donate

**All donations through KrisforKids through the end of Feburary, will be matched dollar for dollar to a maximum of $3,000.

En Español:

Las cosas que vemos todos los días se convierten en normales, incluso cuando no deberían serlo.

Vine a Guatemala después de enterarme de que la media de años escolares en este país es de 4, y que solo 3 de cada 10 niños terminan el 6 grado. Esto aquí es normal, y Niños del Lago trabaja para cambiarlo.

Niños del Lago es un campamento educacional y recreacional que da a los niños, quienes raramente han salido de sus pueblos, la experiencia de primera mano, de que las vidas que llevan no son las únicas vidas que se encuentran disponibles para ellos. Es posible que sea la primera vez que se encuentran con la idea de que no todo tiene que ser como actualmente es.

Niños del Lago trabaja con los niños mas necesitados, quienes no tienen recursos para acudir a las escuelas públicas y son educados en programas escolares locales llevados a cabo mediante agencias de desarrollo público. Por desgracia, muchos niños terminan por abandonar las clases. Nosotros pretendemos incentivarles para que permanezcan en la escuela haciéndolo un requerimiento del programa. Podrán volver año tras año siempre que permanezcan en la escuela y en sus programas, así como que lleven lo que han aprendido en Niños del Lago de vuelta a sus comunidades.

Nos encontramos en nuestro segundo año de construcción. El año pasado cree la estructura de la organización, mientras Arlaine, nuestra fundadora, se centró en los trabajos de construcción. Completamos los cimientos de las cabinas, las carreteras del campo, los tejados y el edificio del almacén. Juntas, con la ayuda de nuestros generosos sponsors y donantes, hemos traido a niños del lago al punto en el que podemos afirmar que abriremos nuestras puertas dentro de 18 meses si seguimos recibiendo donaciones al mismo ritmo.

Este año, hemos comenzado la construcción del edificio principal, y completaremos un mínimo de dos cabinas, de modo que éstas puedan empezar a alojar niños mientras continuamos construyendo para alcanzar nuestra máxima capacidad. Una vez en este punto, recibiremos más de 3000 niños por año.

Sé que muchos de vosotros habéis conocido a Coco ya, pero por favor, volved a mirarle y decidme después de ver su sonrisa si no os gustaría contribuir a crear un nuevo concepto de “normal” para él. Si alguien como yo puede hacer esto, entonces todos podemos, e incluso no es necesario venir a Guatemala (aunque me encantaría veros, a veces se hace un poco solitario). Por favor, considerad haced una donación de 25 euros y pasadlo a cualquiera que sepáis que quiera colaborar para hacer del mundo un lugar mejor para los niños.