May 25, 2021

What a difference a computer can make

It is incredible to see how a small action can have big impacts in a community, especially when that community is geographically isolated, but powerfully organized. 

As part of the support and accompaniment that we are providing to the community of Blanca Flor, located 15 kilometers up a dirt road in the department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, on April 13 we delivered a computer, a printer, a desk, and an office chair to furnish a community office. This donation was in response to a request from the community and is part of the project to acquire solar panels to provide electricity to 55 families. 

In the community assembly in which the equipment was handed off, an elected community representative explained what a difference this office equipment would make for them. It will transform an empty room in this isolated village into a community controlled non-profit organization. It will enable them to do basic, but crucial things like create documents, communicate with others, store important files and facilitate several projects, including that of the solar panels. In his speech, the representative offered deep thanks to Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim and all our donors on GlobalGiving for making this possible. 

Members of the Ancestral Plurinational Government of the Q'anjob'al, Chuj and Akateko nations, a close partner of ours, traveled with us to Blanca Flor. They had agreed to accompany us and also took advantage of the occasion to meet with the community to discuss strategies to move forward this project and to strengthen the autonomy of the territory. They also provided training for the members of the Board of Directors of the community association as part of a process of leadership development offered by the Ancestral Government. 

Fortunately, the current lack of electricity in the community will not prevent the use of the equipment, as they’ve secured a diesel generator to power it. However, the community is excited for the day when they will be able to power these tools and so many others with clean, renewable, solar energy.

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May 12, 2021

Q'anjob'al Mayan Ancestral Medicine

At the beginning of this project, we proposed focusing our training of ancestral medicine on women. However, the community requested that we expand it out to include men. In order to respect their autonomy, the project is now being directed at five men and seven women between the ages of 13 and 58. This diversification of ages is an opportunity to exchange the knowledge that already exists about Mayan medicine, strengthen it, and guarantee its continuity for generations. 

Of seven planned modules, two have been carried out. These include 1) The history of Mayan medicine in indigenous peoples, and 2) The Mayan cosmogony and its relationship with Mayan medicine. These topics have strengthened the foundation of this ancient knowledge in the participants.

In most Mayan communities of Guatemala, the participation of women is minimal, since domestic responsibilities almost always fall on them, which makes it difficult for them to fully participate in different processes that benefit their family, their community, and themselves. At Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim, we know that the training of men and women is essential to collaborate in the construction of a society that offers equal conditions between genders. For this reason, in carrying out the modules of the Ancestral Medicine Project, we have created a space for the attention and care of the children of the participants with a person in charge of the space. In this way, the care of the participants’ five children is not an obstacle to their participation and learning.

In order for the training process on Mayan medicine to have a greater impact, and to deepen and provide more knowledge to the participants, we have had the collaboration of two experts on the subject, both of Q'eqchi Mayan origin. To ensure that language is not a barrier between the instructors and participants, we had the support of an interpreter. The information provided in the workshops is being collected and systematized for future learning. 

Recently, in Guatemala, new prevention measures have been issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic, suspending face-to-face learning. However, we believe that now more than ever we must strengthen knowledge about our millennial health system, so we are looking into continuing the process virtually.

For this project to have life, it is counting on the support of a team of five people as well as the Project Coordinator of the Maya Pixan Ixim Community in the Mayan territory. This work is made possible through the generosity of our donors.

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Jan 12, 2021

Moving Forward Despite Disaster

Meeting about the future of the health project
Meeting about the future of the health project

We believe that everyone should have access to quality, culturally appropriate health care, regardless of their location, nationality or language, which is why we launched this project. Unfortunately, since we launched it, Maya Territory, already heavily affected by COVID-19, was ravaged by two powerful hurricanes just a week apart which destroyed homes and buried entire communities. Responding to that disaster and the needs of its victims has unfortunately delayed the launch of this project.

Nonetheless, from 8-9 January of this year, our Director of Programs in Maya Territory met with the Plurinational Ancestral Akateko, Chuj and Q'anjob'al Government, our primary partner in this project, to re-evaluate the project and its beneficiary communities in light of the new context.

After in-depth analysis, we concluded that the disaster underscored the urgent need to strengthen our ancestral life systems. We also decided that the health project will be carried out in the K’isil community, which sits 13 kilometers southeast of the municipality of San Juan Ixcoy, Huehuetenango and which was heavily damaged by the hurricanes.

During the meeting, project funds were used to hire two women to prepare the participants' meals, offering each of them two days of work and much needed income.

NEXT STEPS

The next step of this project is a training process for a group of community medicinal plant practitioners, consisting of 6 modules over 3 months. Each module will last two days. The group is made up of 15 women who have excelled in the science of ancient medicine.

In order to analyze this process, at the end of it, we will ask the women how they feel, what the experience has been like, what they have recovered of ancestral medicinal practices, and what they have learned from others. We will also ask them about their expectations for the future, specifically, with the tools they have, how they visualize their work and their lives going forward.

You're donations are what make this possible, and we hope you'll continue to support us in bringing health are to Maya people in Maya Territory. One great opportunity is GlobalGiving's "little by little" matching campaign March 8-12th.

Preparing food for the meeting
Preparing food for the meeting

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