by Corinne Yank, GoPhil Communications Manager

Centro Maya Servicio Integral, a leading institution in care, education, and social inclusion for people with special needs in Guatemala, was one of the first GoPhil partners to receive flexible emergency funding through the Rapid Response Fund.

We recognize that in times of crisis, historically marginalized groups are at risk of becoming even more marginalized, so we believe that extra support and attention must be paid in order to ensure equitable relief efforts. 

“In the context of emergencies, field experience indicates that persons with disabilities are too often neglected in the contingency planning, assessment, design, and delivery of humanitarian relief… Ensuring inclusion of persons with disabilities during emergency response must be considered a core component of principled and effective humanitarian action.” UN Study

With support from the Rapid Response Fund, the dedicated Centro Maya team continues to support special needs children and their families through ever-evolving circumstances and unprecedented challenges.

The Centro Maya community center and therapy programs have been temporarily closed since mid-March in accordance with local regulations. Early on, Centro Maya provided parents of program participants with tools and instruction so they could continue essential therapies at home

Centro Maya teachers and therapists remain in constant communication with their program participants to monitor their wellbeing. Several families have reported health problems such as diarrhea or common colds, but so far no one has experienced COVID-19 symptoms.

The majority of families are experiencing intensified economic hardship due to the national lockdown and restrictions. Many have completely lost their income. Several families have been rationing food and others are at risk of starvation. Program participants previously ate their meals at Centro Maya, but this is no longer possible given the circumstances. 

In response, Centro Maya launched an emergency food relief effort. They are starting to deliver food and hygiene parcels to program participants and their families this week. They have written a policy for the making and delivery of the parcels that includes safety precautions to minimize contamination and comply with national and local restrictions.

All Centro Maya program participants have received their medications for the month of April. The doses for next month will be delivered along with the food parcels this week. 

Centro Maya has not been able to find hand sanitizer locally. Due to the travel ban, they have not been able to travel to Guatemala City to purchase it. However, this restriction was finally lifted on April 20th, so they will hopefully be receiving orders this week. They have also had some trouble accessing certain foods due to shortages (corn, beans, rice and a nutritional porridge), which they ordered directly from the distributors.

If you are able, please stand in solidarity with Centro Maya team members and communities by making a contribution to the GoPhil Rapid Response Fund today. Though initial funds have been distributed, challenges are unfortunately far from over; we need your support to help GoPhil partners through the next phase of this crisis.