Today, October 12, is Indigenous People’s Day, and we turn our focus to the first people here in the U.S. and all the Americas, and specifically to the indigenous people living in the remote village of Chajmaic.

On August 16-19, Sowing Opportunities sent our trusted associates Ricardo (project manager) and Antonio (agricultural engineer) to the village of Chajmaic to conduct needs assessments, meet with village and municipal leaders, and test the water for filtration needs.

At that time, we made our 6th groceries delivery to the village, thereby having provided nourishment to 75 families, one-third of the families of the village.

The needs assessment – through interviews with 72 individuals (52 men and 20 women) – showed that the inhabitants of the village are anxious to learn agriculture – specifically greenhouse farming that our agricultural engineer Federico is piloting in other areas of Guatemala.

The inhabitants’ main focus of such work is to help them feed their children, and every person interviewed expressed commitment in learning and teaching other members of their community. They stated that their greatest preoccupation is lack of work, health and education, for themselves and their children.

An assistant to the agricultural engineer, a communications specialist, and two young men in the village have been identified to participate in the pilot and they are interested in learning as apprentices. They would lead this project for the 150 families who would participate in this work.

After returning home to Antigua, Guatemala, Ricardo met with agricultural engineers Antonio and Federico and the Board of Sowing Opportunities decided that rather than continuing to deliver groceries, we would put our energies towards the following projects in the village (see website for more photos):
1)     A greenhouse workshop project in which, according to the interests expressed through the needs assessment, would grow corn, black beans, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and carrots, although we will start first with just corn and beans.

The greenhouse would serve as a model and smaller versions would be built at the homes of the participating families, for their food and to sell to neighboring villages, for livelihood.
2)     A water filtration project which would be built on that which has been developed over the past two years by the neighboring municipality, based on relationships established by Ricardo and Antonio. The good news is that all the pieces are in place with the exception of two: (1) payment of the electricity bill to power the pump and (2) filtration.

Federico has an engineer friend from the UAE who developed highly effective, relatively low-cost filters that would be appropriate for the 600,000-gallon capacity water tank in Chajmaic. This means that filtration would happen at the source, prior to piping the water to faucets at individual homes. The tank has the capacity to supply the entire village at the same time, and with the filters, the water will be drinkable.
3)     In Chajmaic there is a small health building that is rarely staffed by medical personnel. Federico has a friend who is both an agricultural engineer and a nurse. His salary onsite as a nurse for the health center would be subsumed under that as an agricultural engineer, thereby reducing project costs. (Click here for budget.)
LR: Ricardo San José Roca, village leader Don Pedro, and Antonio Longo
It must be mentioned that all participants in the project will be taught about how to protect themselves and their community against the spread of coronavirus. Everyone will be issued a mask, which they must hold onto. They will not be allowed to participate in the project without a mask.

We also propose a mask-making workshop. Sowing Opportunities will provide fabric, thread and needles, as well as small remuneration to women who make the masks for the workers.
With available staff and trainees, infrastructure, and know-how to develop these essential and related projects, Sowing Opportunities’ next step is to find project start-up funding for the first year.

Parts of these projects can be funded independently, as well. For example, individuals can make contributions to purchase or find organizations that might donate tools and seeds.

At this time, we are writing to request your assistance in suggesting alliances with likeminded small organizations – corporations that might want a Corporate Social Responsibility focus; small businesses; religious institutions. Please let us know if you have leads of organizations that we can approach.

As always, we are grateful for your contributions that have gotten us to this point. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity towards the people in the indigenous, remote village of Chajmaic, Guatemala, whom we are thinking about on Indigenous People's Day.

If you would like to donate, you can do so through . You can contact us at .

Fern and Ginny

*Full quote by Martin Luther: “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope. No merchant or tradesman would set himself to work if he did not hope to reap benefit thereby.”
Sowing Opportunities, Inc.
21 Ivy Road
Malden, MA 02148