We are a nonprofit working with the Maya-Ixil people in the western highlands of Guatemala. The Ixil have a rich culture that they have kept due to their remoteness. Women still weave their clothes and the primary language is still Ixil. However, there is a lot of poverty in this region. In each of our programs we engage with Ixil communities and work together to find sustainable solutions to help them meet their water, food, and health needs. Our main programs are clean water, stoves, and organic gardening, however working in an area with extreme poverty, we often find ourselves helping out in many other ways too. This includes building homes, providing blankets, and much more.
Volunteers stay and work at our agricultural training center. At the training center we hold garden workshops, produce, plants and seeds for our gardeners, and experiment with permaculture centered practices. Volunteers help us with daily farm chores, work in the gardens, and garden classes. Throughout your stay you will also have the opportunity to go out into the Ixil communities with our stoves and water programs.
On site there is a ranch house where our volunteer coordinators, Peyton and Cristina, live. They are a young couple from the United States. Michael, the founder of this project, lives in a separate home on site with his family. Although Peyton, Cristina, and Michael speak English, it is important that volunteers speak at least an intermediate level of Spanish in order to communicate with local staff both in the gardens and the kitchen. Some people in town speak Spanish, but many speak only Ixil.
We are in a remote location. The nearest city Chajul, Guatemala is 2 hours away. From there it is all a mountainous dirt road, a road that was built only 15 years ago. We are just a 20 minute walk from the small town of Chel. It is a beautiful natural place with mountains, forests and rivers. The climate is warm, humid, and rainy all year with the exception of a dry season from February to April. Chel is a small, quaint town where everyone knows each other and foreigners are pretty new. Volunteers have the opportunity to take weaving classes in the community, go hiking in primary forests, and listening to local storytelling about the war and Ixil life.
Volunteering with us is a unique experience. In being remote and in the Ixil area, it is a truly cultural experience. Michael's wife and girls are Ixil. You will learn a lot from the culture and some of the language spending time with them, the local staff, and locals that participate in our programs. We have had volunteers take weaving classes in town and attend storytelling about the war and genocide that took place here.
You will be helping on our agricultural training site. Daily tasks include feeding the animals (chickens, ducks, pigs, cows, mule, fish) and harvesting greens. The rest of the day is spent in either maintaining the gardens or preparing for garden classes. We are looking for volunteers with knowledge about animal care and permaculture farming to contribute their skills and knowledge. Occasionally volunteers have the chance to participate in our other programs visiting Ixil homes in surrounding villages.
Spanish, English, Ixil
The lower level of the ranch house has 4 dorm-style rooms. Depending on how many visitor there are, you may be sharing a room with another volunteer. Each room has its own bathroom. Both food staples and accommodation are provided free of charge. We eat a mostly vegetarian diet with lots of garden greens, and occasionally we eat meat from the farm. There are always hand made tortillas.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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