We are a group of donors dedicated to working together to reduce the amount of suffering experienced daily by impoverished Guatemalans. Suffering, that stems from lack of access to healthcare and nutrition, education, and adequate housing, can be alleviated with surprisingly small investments. We aren’t trying to re-invent the nonprofit wheel. We recognize there are many very good nonprofit organizations working in Guatemala. Project Quetzal, utilizing the generosity of our members, funds our own projects as well as working side-by-side with other nonprofit organizations on carefully vetted and viable projects.
What’s more, we maintain a discretionary fund that we can use to quickly provide aid to persons or families in critical need, usually a healthcare emergency.
Project Quetzal’s programs are located in the rural highlands of Guatemala. We fund programs with existing nonprofits and also develop our own community projects. In both cases, we work together to create a positive change. Our goal is to find solutions for improving the lives of indigenous families through education, nutrition, and housing improvements. We focus on being partners and listening to what the families and communities need, all the while maintaining the greatest respect for the Mayan culture. We believe this approach is one that best serves the indigenous community and the best way to use the money we receive from our donors.
Communities and partner nonprofits submit proposals for their projects. Our Board of Directors will review and select the projects to fund for the year. If selected, they will be required to submit a mid-year report and an end-of-year report.
Areas of Focus for our Projects:
- Education – Our main interests are in the areas of preschool programs and after-school tutoring programs at the elementary school level. We would support these programs by paying for a teacher’s salary (approximately $1500 per year), plus materials and training for the teachers. If students do not pass 1st grade, they often stop attending school. Going to preschool provides an opportunity for children to achieve success in the first grade. Also, tutoring is essential for indigenous students who speak a Mayan language in the home. Spanish is their second language and many struggle with academic subjects. Many parents did not receive adequate education and are unable to help their children with homework.
- Nutrition — Another principle focus is in supporting small rural schools with nutrition programs that would provide a daily snack, breakfast, or lunch for all the children. Money would be used to purchase food and equipment, and to train mothers and grandmothers to cook nutritious meals. Malnutrition is a chronic problem affecting 72% of the population in rural communities. Dental care and general hygiene are also components of these programs along with educating the mothers through community talks on various subjects related to the health and well being of the family.
- Housing Improvements – Many people (67%) live in inadequate housing with unsafe and unhealthy conditions and insufficient living space that affects learning and health. Houses are often pieced together with found wooden planks and have scrap metal roofs as well as dirt floors. Some simple improvements like cement floors, new roofs, and water filters can greatly lower common but serious illnesses like respiratory infections, pneumonia, and diarrhea which can have very serious consequences for infants and small children. Clean-burning, fuel-efficient wood stoves can reduce respiratory diseases, one of the leading causes of death of women in Guatemala.
- Community projects – Projects for economic development will also be considered such as a weaving cooperative for women. The Mayan weavers are renowned as textile artists and this keeps them connected to their heritage. It would give them the possibility to earn money, develop pride in their skills, contribute to the family income, provide for their children, build sustainable futures for themselves and their families, and empower them to change their lives by working together.