Support the Unity Church & The Geller Center's Work Tour to Guatemala
At the end of this year, a group from Unity Church and the Geller Center will embark on a journey to Guatemala with environmental nonprofit Trees, Water & People (TWP) for 10 days of discovery, service, and cultural exchange. Working with the rural, indigenous community of La Bendición, the group is raising important funds to complete projects that the community has designed and voted on in a democratic process.
About the Community
The history of La Bendición is as complex and compelling as that of Guatemala as a whole. The people of La Benedición are actually not from this area. We should be visiting them in the highlands of Guatemala, far away from the tropical climate of southern Guatemala, where they live now. In a perfect world you would also never find these 70 families living together. They are all of different indigenous ethnicities. In fact, if you listen close you can hear three different languages being spoken other than Spanish. What brings these people together, living and surviving in this very remote area of the country, is the heartache and suffering of civil war. After years of unrest and oppression of the indigenous populations in Guatemala - after land was stolen, then given back, then stolen again - they collectively decided to flee their homeland and move to a more peaceful setting. Together, they purchased the land they now call home. They were promised a fertile area with well-equipped infrastructure, but instead found a challenging mountainside with high winds, limited water, no electricity, and very poor road access.
La Bendición has been a key part of TWP’s overall presence in Guatemala since Sebastian Africano, TWP´s International Director, first began to cultivate a relationship with local NGO Utz Che’ over four years ago. La Bendición is one of more than 40 communities represented by Utz Che´, an umbrella organization that provides legal services and critical advocacy to underserved, mostly indigenous, communities.
This will be the second work tour to La Bendición in what we hope will be a long-lasting and productive relationship to improve the social, economic, and environmental reality of this incredible community.
- Tourist Route (trails and paths)
- Environmental Education
- Teaching and educating youth in ecotourism
- Create further awareness and programs in the community on the educational processes regarding the environment and natural resources.
- Improvement of the community center and house
- Community Kitchen
- Improvement of the Access routes into the community
- Transportation into the community
- Agroforestry Initiatives
- Vegetable Garden Project
- Beekeeping Project
- Coffee Project
Message from the community:
“With this Project, the goal is to promote community ecotourism as an engine of development for the community. These projects do not pretend to complete the entire objective, but instead to launch a process that puts the community in a better position with a better quality of life.
With this Project we hope to create the basic conditions, in infrastructure as well as technical preparation and education so that the community can dedicate itself to the activity of ecotourism.
With this activity, we hope to prepare technicians, preferably youth that can study and eventually specialize in different sectors or educational areas. This way, we are promoting a more pertinent and relevant education for community life and generating conditions so that the youth population does not have to migrate to other communities in search of better work.
On the other hand, we are promoting actions that are aimed at the protection and conservation of the environment, especially the forest and the watershed sources. Additionally, we are generating circles of study that can be shared as ¨social tourism¨ that will offer their experiences and wisdom and contribute to the development of their communities. In this way the community will be taking ownership of new knowledge and learning that can be combined with the existing local and ancestral knowledge.”