DESGUA: Training Educators in Mayan Communities

by DESGUA Sustainable Development for Guatemala
Sep 5, 2012

Collaborations in Guatemala Dream Building

International Festival of Education for Life
International Festival of Education for Life

Central to DESGUA's mission is working with communities affected by migration in order to build networks of solidarity for sustainable economic and educational opportunities in Guatemala. The last several months have been filled with cultural and educational initiatives and events at the School of Community Organizers.  We would like to thank you for your generous support that makes this work possible.   


Kicking off July with a new collaboration, DESGUA welcomed No More Deaths volunteer Hannah Hafter to hold a conference about the harsh realities of the US-Mexico Border in Nogales,  Arizona; the human rights abuses of US immigration authorities; and how to locate disappeared immigrants in detention centers and in the Sonoran desert.  Participants at the conference included various nonprofit, community and governmental organizations that work with community members and families trying to locate a disappeared loved one.  This work is vital to bring necessary tools to the communities where DESGUA works and to raise awareness on a national level about the injustices undocumented immigrants face.


The Cultural Empowerment and Mayan Worldview section of the School of Community Organizers continues to make important impacts as well.  In August, DESGUA had the opportunity to participate in the 8th Annual International Festival of Education for Life.  This festival, organized by Colectivo Noj, is geared towards educators and leaders interested in professional growth and tools for a creating a transformative society.  For a second consecutive year our intercultural coordinator led a week-long workshop entitled: “Celebrating a new Mayan cycle: Information and preparation for the change in the Mayan cycle on December 2012 from the perspective of the Maya K´iche people.”  Workshop participants included a multidisciplinary group of international professionals interested in finding ways to incorporate spirituality in their work as lawyers, psychologists and researchers.  It was an opportunity to connect and collaborate with people from all over Latin America and Europe who are using art and culture to create a more just and sustainable world.


Building such international relationships of solidarity is crucial to DESGUA's work. Early this summer we launched our research internship program “Other Knowledge Historical Memory Project” in order to provide another way for the international community to participate.  The academic materials and donations contributed by the first three participants during their stay have been vital to sustaining the work of DESGUA and our educational activities at the School of Community Organizers.


We would like to send a special thanks to Murphy Woodhouse, Jenn Summers and Oto Alves and have included highlights of their contributions. 


Murphy Woodhouse, an Arizona University Master´s student, conducted interviews with Guatemalan immigrants focusing on the challenges they face upon returning to Guatemala and the resources that exist to help them in their reintegration process.  He was able to ascertain critical information about the reintegration process that will inform the work of organizations on the border that protect the rights of people who migrate.  Murphy´s Master thesis work also provides theoretical credibility to DESGUA's work of creating economic and educational opportunities in Guatemala for returning immigrants and the Mayan communities they come from.


Jenn Summers, a Furman University student, conducted research on traditional Mayan agriculture a fore-running practice to the organic movement.  Additionally, Jenn helped design the organic herb garden in Café RED, DESGUA´s sister social enterprise project and produced valuable literature supporting their work.  In addition, during her three months at DESGUA, she designed an online crowd-funding campaign for Café RED and helped organize the first activities of the ¨Red Verde¨, the Green Network.  The Green Network brings together social businesses, cooperatives and individuals in the Guatemalan Highlands working to promote sustainable environmental practices.  


Oto Alves da Silva, our Brazilian intern, currently studying at Earlham University, assisted our intercultural coordinator in his work around the scientific, spiritual and mathematical contributions of the Mayan people.  Oto worked with a group of spiritual guides in Totonicapán, the women´s weaving association AMUTED, and compiled educational materials for understanding Mayan culture and cosmovision (Mayan Worldview).  DESGUA is grateful for his technological contributions and looks forward to incorporate technology as a tool to teach cosmovision to children, youth and adults. 


We look forward to continuing our relationships with Murphy, Jenn and Oto and are excited about the opportunity to host future interns here at DESGUA.  For more information about our research intern program or to apply to be an intern with DESGUA please send a cover letter and resume to Juanita Dale at


DESGUA continues to celebrate the human voices that come together declaring that another world is possible.  We now invite you to join us by making a contribution to support our ongoing work of building the “Guatemalan Dream.”.  Please remember even the smallest contribution goes a long way.


In solidarity,


The DESGUA Guatemala Crew

Migration Research Intern Murphy Woodhouse
Migration Research Intern Murphy Woodhouse
Sustainable Agriculture Intern Jenn Summers
Sustainable Agriculture Intern Jenn Summers
Mayan Culture and Cosmovision Intern Oto Alves
Mayan Culture and Cosmovision Intern Oto Alves
Hannah Hafter at Migration Resources Conference
Hannah Hafter at Migration Resources Conference



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Organization Information

DESGUA Sustainable Development for Guatemala

Location: Quetzaltenango - Guatemala
Website: http:/​/​
DESGUA Sustainable Development for Guatemala
Project Leader:
Anna Grewe
Quetzaltenango, Quetzaltenango Guatemala

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