During my time in Guatemala, I have connected with many local organizations doing invaluable work in the Lago Atitlán region. Here, I list those organizations who appear in this blog’s content.
At Unlocking Silent Histories, we aim to support indigenous youth learning opportunities that lead to critical and creative media expression, amplifying their voices and identities, and honoring their cultural and linguistic heritages. Our innovative pedagogical model is grounded in the tenets of Critical Pedagogy, Critical Media Literacy and Media Studies. We integrate these to offer youth the tools to both question, analyze, and change their situations. Youth explore aspects of their world that they find most valuable to investigate, share, and transform. I work as the Field Director for this incredible organization.
Unlocking Silent Histories’ partner organizations in Guatemala:
Maya Traditions Foundation leverages traditional Maya heritage and art, connecting female artisans with national and international markets committed to the Fair Trade Principles. The Foundation’s mission is to empower and improve the quality of life for Maya women artisans and their families and to contribute to the preservation and promotion of traditional knowledge, art, and culture in Guatemala. To do so, the Foundation offer the women artisans and their families education-driven social programs and market access to International Fair Trade and artisanal networks with a focus on traditional Maya culture and traditions.
ADECCAP is a locally-run organization based in Santiago Atitlan, founded by two native brothers in 2005 as a community response to Hurricane Stan, a storm that displaced hundreds of families living in Panabaj. The purpose of ADECCAP is to strengthen spaces for youth participation, promoting processes of formation and capacity-building to give opportunities to young people in their social, economic, political and cultural development, in order to exercise responsible and critical citizenship, with gender equity and cultural relevance, within a framework of environmental risk management for a holistic approach to community development.
Natik’s mission is to empower marginalized communities, economically and educationally, through partnerships with local grassroots organizations. In a collaborative spirit and with sustainability in mind, Natik forms long-term partnerships with organizations in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala and in Chiapas, Mexico – a model that supports local leaders in developing their own solutions to community problems. Natik’s relationships with partner organizations provide them with essential financial and administrative assistance, guided by their own self-stated goals.
Natik’s partner organizations in Guatemala:
Just Apparel partners with indigenous artisan women in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala to produce traditional textile products, as well as customized, hand-embroided sweatshirts, polos, t-shirts, and tote-bags. We market these products as an ethically produced alternative to the goods that student organizations and companies in the US already buy in large numbers. In doing so, we connect artisans with a much larger market than they could otherwise find for their products, and we give buyers in the US an opportunity to express ethical commitments through their purchases.
La Puerta Abierta is a vibrant learning center for students of all ages. Early stimulation classes, preschool, and kindergarten are provided for families at all income levels. The space is also used for high school scholarship student meetings and a tutoring program with daily homework help for younger students. A traveling library brings books to rural schools. Due to a lack of income, ability and time, reading is not part of the culture in Santiago Atitlán. La Puerta Abierta is working to bring excitement to reading and education.
The Secondary School Scholarship Program provides support for high-achieving students who cannot otherwise afford to continue their education after sixth grade because the extra cost of secondary school in Santiago Atitlán is prohibitive. Since 2007, the Scholarship Program in Santiago Atitlán has provided financial assistance to academically motivated junior high and high school students and encouraged the formation of young leaders who aim to improve life for themselves, their families, and their communities. The program commits to funding students through graduation and provides tutoring support to ensure they succeed. Along the way, the students complete weekly community service, during which many of them help younger students at La Puerta Abierta.