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Category "Mayan Guatemala CentralAmerica" Episodes:
  • Pub Date: May 26, 2008 - 1:29 am
  • Ak' Tenamit Cultural Center Guatemala
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  • About Ak' Tenamit
    Ak' Tenamit means “New Village” in the Q’eqchi Mayan language, because our organization is transforming life in the Q’eqchi villages of eastern Guatemala. Those villages are located around the Río Dulce, far from the nearest road – most are reached by a boat trips and hikes through the rain forest – and they lack electricity, running water and basic sanitation. When Ak’ Tenamit was founded in 1992 by a small group of foreign volunteers and village leaders, most of the communities it serves lacked access to medical care and had only rudimentary schools, if any. Few students studied to the sixth grade, and most girls dropped out by third, or fourth grade. Illiteracy rates were 70%--80%, and malnutrition, parasites, and various curable diseases were common.

    Ak’ Tenamit consequently began improving village schools, providing teacher training, and coordinating donations of school supplies. The local people built a riverside clinic while foreign medical volunteers began visiting villages and training health promoters, while others taught groups of women to make paper from cornhusks and other waste. Since then, those initiatives have evolved to include preventative medicine programs, promotion of education for girls, a floating dental clinic, a secondary school that offers practical training in sustainable tourism and development, a network of cooperatives that produces and markets an array of handcrafts, and specific programs promoting gender equality, environmental protection and preservation of Q’eqchi culture.
    TEXT and PHOTO (C)