Spring 2014  issue 19
  This edition of the newsletter focuses on educational sponsorship programs. In Guatemala there are many programs run by NGOs, Spanish language schools, and Christian religious organizations that help sponsor children to pay for their education. A study I highlight below investigated a number of programs throughout the world, including one in San Pedro la Laguna. The results of this study showed that in terms of the results it gets sponsoring children is one of the most effective uses of international aid. The large international Christian organizations seem willing to include children whose families could easily pay the costs associated with the education of their child in order to give them their religious message. The smaller programs of the NGOs and Spanish schools, because they are more limited, are on the whole much more selective of the children they sponsor. They chose only children with the greatest need.

In addition to Vision Maya program, which I work with and mention below, the Maya Education Foundation, part of Plumsock Mesoamerican Studies, is another excellent program to sponsor children.

Joseph Johnston

  in This issue


Featured Artist Mario Gonzalez Chavajay
Vision Maya: Scholarships for Children
Why Sponsor Children?
Frank May's Photographs
Rising Lake Atitlán
Exclusive Arte Maya Posters


  Mario Gonzalez Chavajay
Featured artist
  Mario Gonzalez Chavajay is one of a handful of Tz'utuhil Maya artists who I work closely with. In addition to his exceptional ability to paint, he never repeats a composition. When I first started working with the Tz'utuhil artists, almost every painting of every artist was an original composition. However, making money from the lucrative tourist market has made most artists compromise both in terms of originality (exact repetitions of paintings, both their own and of other artists) and in terms of quality (quickly done, often several a day). Mario paints every painting carefully, spending anywhere from several days for the smallest painting to more than a month for the larger ones. His colors are vibrant and his unique style is easy to recognize.
While cataloguing and photographing Mario Gonzalez Chavajay's most recent paintings, I discovered that I had been sitting on quite a number of paintings by Mario that I had never put up on the website. In order to reduce my inventory, I am offering them at 50% off until April 15. I also have at least thirty large paintings by Mario that I have not yet put up on the website. These paintings are 3' x 3' or larger. If, after seeing his current medium and small paintings, you are interested in a large work, contact me.
  50% off until April 15
Mario Gonzalez Chavajay's paintings
  Vision Maya
a small locally administered sponsorship program
Casa Rosario Spanish School's Vision Maya  program searches for the neediest local children to sponsor, children who would be dropping out of school for financial reasons. Unlike the programs in the study below, this program is flexible enough to follow them as graduate from grade school and enroll in secondary schools. The goal is for them to graduate from high school. Many are the first in their family to graduate from high school. Vision Maya has also provided scholarships for several unwed working mothers who have returned to school hoping to provide a better future for their children.
  Why Sponsor Children?
Study shows sponsoring works
An study of child sponsorship programs has conclude that they are one the most successful international aid programs in terms of outcome and cost.


  FRank Mays' Photographs
Maya Festivals of Guatemala
Frank Mays runs one of the most incredible places to see and buy traje in Guatemala, Nim Pot, which is located just beyond the arch in Antigua. The traje is arranged by town so it is very easy to learn about the dress of almost any town in Guatemala. Nobody could operate such a store without having an incredible affinity for the weavers, the Maya women of Guatemala. His photographs, some of which are posted on the Arte Maya website, were taken at festivals over many years.
  Rising Lake Atitlan
Joyce Maynard
All of the towns around Lake Atitlán are built on hills a considerable distance above the lake. The reason: in approximately fifty year cycles the lake rises and falls. After the time of violence in the 1980s foreigners started moving to Lake Atitlán and buying property to build on. They did not know about the cycles of rise and fall of the water. The lake was receding and property at the shore increased in size as the lake went down. Lakeside land which had formerly gone for several hundred quetzales was now being sold for tens of thousands of dollars. Cashing in on the value of their land the local Maya also forgot the warnings of their grandparents and great-grandparents and also starting build close to the lake. As the lake began to rise again, structures built near the edge of the lake began to be swallowed by the lake.

In 2008 Joyce Maynard wrote an article for the New York Times Guatemala as Muse and Base for a Writer. By 2012 Joyce Maynard's home had disappeared under a rising Lake Atitlán, and her article about it,  Paradise Lost,  appeared in the New York times in May of 2012. Both articles are worth reading.


By Paula Nicho Cumez &
Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay
  Exclusive to Arte Maya Tz'utuhil are posters of paintings by Paula Nicho Cumez and Pedro Rafael Gonzalez Chavajay. The posters sell for $15 each and are 12" x 18." The sale of these posters helps Arte Maya Tz'utuhil support the artists.