Guatemala is a country of 13 million people immediately south of Mexico. The official language is Spanish with 22 Mayan dialects spoken mostly in rural areas. Guatemala has 22 departments with Peten being the largest in size (approximately 1/3 of total land mass). The population is 600,000 people. Geographically, the Peten is a naturally sub-tropical rain forest home to the largest tropical forest preserve in Central American. This lowland tropical forest is home to a wealth of plant and animal species, such as jaguars, tapirs, monkeys and hundreds of exotic bird including the Tucan and Quetzal. The Mayan ruins of Tikal are located an hour away from Lake Peten Itza – other Mayan ruins are within walking distance of many of the small villages.
The population of the Peten is primarily indigenous with a majority of the population speaking both Spanish and Q’eqchi. The people suffer because of deforestation, poor soil quality and crop production. The rate of malnutrition is 60%. The Peten has the highest rate of maternal mortality in Guatemala at 172 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births. The infant mortality is also elevated at 40 infant deaths for every 1,000 births. There is one regional hospital and 3 referral centers within a landmass 1/3 the size of Guatemala. At present many villages in Southeastern Peten have no medical care and no medications on site. Travel to a referral hospital is 4-6 hours by bus.
The Mission House
The Mission House is located in Colonial Tikal in San Benito, Petén in the gated community of Santa Isabel. The house is a 3,000 square foot 2 story home built according to American Standards. It has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, a living room, dining room, kitchen, upstairs study, upstairs sunroom with an outside porch, downstairs sunroom, computer room and garage. The outdoor garden is surrounded by mango, lime, and papaya trees and small porches. A basketball court and an outdoor shower are available. The amenities of the home include ceiling fans, satellite wireless internet, cable television, washer and dryer. Two adjacent studio apartments with private bedroom and bath are separated from the home and are available for the visiting supervising mentor. A paved street safe for running surrounds the house. Home cooked meals, laundry and cleaning services are provided by a full time housekeeper.