You can´t even imagine how beautiful Lago Atitlan is. Just picture a placid lake surrounded by immense, almost majestic volcanoes, and then assume you´re underestimating the view by a factor of 20.
We arrived Friday night in time for our slew of meetings all day on Saturday. First we met with representatives from the Universidad del Valle Guatemala-Atitplano, then with a women teaching an indigenous leadership course, and then finally with our friend, Jesus. Though we just met for the first time Saturday morning, he was one of my first contacts. In fact, all of these contacts were suggested by Mr. Martin Rozenberg, who at this point I am forever indebted to.
Jesus is the president of an organization called Asoatitlan that is based in Chaquijyá. They have broad, yet defined goals and objectives, but have yet to realize their mission. Simply put, they do not have projects running at this time. However, everyone on the Asoatitlan team has been dedicated to this cause since its inception with unrivaled passion and enthusiasm. We ended up spending the entire day with Jesus and the association members talking and walking around the community. We knew we had found something special.
A view of Chaquijyá
I´ll just come right out with it, Maddie, Chris, and I met yesterday and unanimously decided to focus our efforts on Chaquijyá... now I just need to learn how to pronounce it. But let´s make something clear, Manna is dependent on its checks and balances, so the board has the final decision in the end.
Some Chaquijyá facts:
- It is a 100% indigenous Mayan community that speaks kakchiquel (or cachiquel, depending on who spells it) as their primary language, though most also speak Spanish.
- 34% of the community live in extreme poverty, earning less than US$1 per day.
- The total population is 6,027 people.
- Their economy is agriculture-based, and their cash crop is corn.
- They received a $4,025 loan from Kiva in 2008 for various craft supplies, and paid the money back in full 4 months early.
Chris, Maddie, and the Asoatitlan team on the Inter-American Highway!
Happy International Women´s day (yesterday),