What's the Challenge?
UNESCO rates Guatemala as the 4th highest malnutritioned country in the world, and the highest in Latin America.
- Despite the abundant landscape and year round growing season, the average Guatemalan diet is unbalanced, consisting of mainly corn. Their diet lacks in a variety of healthy foods, resulting in stunted growth, and slowed development.
- Compounding the problem of malnutrition is the poor living conditions of many of the indigenious people. They lack clean water to drink. Litter, human waste, laundry water and dish water go back into the land where food is grown.
Ultimately, the problem is a lack of ideas and resources. The Mayan people need knowledge about what and how to grow more nutritious food to improve their diet, and how to implement systems that can improve living conditions.
Who Are We?
Two American families with kids (nine between us), we've been living in Guatemala since 2011. We're passionate about making a positve, permanent difference by teaching people new skills instead of giving them handouts that only fulfill temporary needs.
Between us, we've spent 15+ years living and serving in Latin American countries, and speak fluent Spanish (plus a few words of kaqchikel) :)
Greg and Lucy Jensen are owners and operators of MayanRunningAdventure.com and Greg and Rachel Denning write for DiscoverShareInspire.com and DeterminedLives.com
We've already successfully orchestrated a Self-Reliance Project with a local family, helping them to start their own small homestead with garden boxes, chickens, vermicomposting, tilapia and pigs, as well as a composting toilet, solar hot water and smoke-reducing fuel-efficient stove. This project has helped them to improve their nutrition and living conditions, and become self-reliant.
Now we want to take this successful model to the next level.
What's the Model?
The biggest obstacle we face when teaching the local indigenous families how to make positive life changes is helping them catch the vision or big picture of the new ideas we're sharing.
Guatemala is an abundant paradise with a year-round growing season. And yet, without an idea or model of what is possible, they can't break the cycle of malnutrition and poverty.
Many are illiterate and don't have access to the resources we do, such as books on square foot gardening or YouTube videos about homesteading.
That's why we want to build Mayan Eco Homestead. It will be a 'model farm' -- a living, breathing 'YouTube video' -- to show the people how, what, and why.
As a natural, environmentally friendly farm, it will provide hands-on training at no cost, and education on things such as square-foot gardening, vermicomposting, permaculture, animal husbandry, grey water filtration, drinking water filtration, composting toilets, alternative energy, and more. We will also teach skills classes on things like soapmaking, food preservation, hygiene, recycling, and emergency preparedness.
The locals will have the opportunity to 'learn-and-earn', exchanging time spent working and learning on the farm for seeds, garden boxes, chickens, grey water and drinking water filtration and composting toilet systems, among other things.
Not only are we teaching skills, we're also providing necessary resources, without giving ineffective or inappropriate handouts.
Once families have 'learned and earned', we'll be working one-on-one with them to provide individualized solutions -- we'll visit their home and help them implement what they've learned on the homestead.
What We Need
We have already purchased a property (2 acres), with water rights, electricity, and an existing, unfinished structure.
We plan to do much of the labor ourselves, but we will also be hiring laborers, to help the local economy.
In order to make the Mayan Eco Homestead project a reality, this is what we need:
- Materials and supplies for homesteading projects ($12,200):
- Perimeter Fencing (1200ft of chain link)
- Animal encolsure fencing (300 ft)
- 6 Chicken coops
- 50 Laying Hens
- 350 Meat chicks
- 12 Rabbits
- 12 Rabbit cages
- 50 Garden boxes (4x8ft)
- Heirloom Seeds
- Tilapia pond materials
- 100 Tiliapia fish
- 4 Bee hives
- 20 lbs Composting worms and 10 boxes
- Irrigation materials (800ft of pipe, connectors, spigots)
- Greenhouse/nursery materials (plastic, 1x12 boards, clear roofing)
- Composting toilet model (1x12 in. boards, cinder blocks, metal roof, PVC pipe)
- Grey water ring
- Solar hot water system (500m 1-in. tubing)
- Workshop/tool shed
- Caretaker house (a home for our full-time local guard/caretaker/local instructor who speaks the indigenous kaqchiqel language) ($4600)
- Build eco-friendly off grid volunteer housing that will use alternative energy such as solar, wind and pedal power ($11,500)
- Solar - $3000
- Structure - $2500
- Roofing - $1475
- Windows & Doors - $1250
- Flooring - $875
- Electrical & Plumbing - $975
- Paint - $550
- Wind & Pedal Power - $875
- Indiegogo Fees -- 4-9% of total raised (estimated $1132)
- Implement water backup system with rainwater collection, cistern and well ($6,500)
- Purchase materials for family sponsorship kits for those who complete the 'learn and earn' program -- garden box materials; composting toilet supplies; solar water; smoke reducing stoves; water filtration systems; etc. (25 families -- $12,500)
- Anything above and beyond would be used for for family sponsorship kits
If we do not reach the entire amount, then we'll use the raised funds to begin with what projects we can. We can at least start with small homesteading projects, raise more funds, and grow from there.
The Impact Your Donation Will Have
Your contribution WILL have a positive, immediate impact. It won't be lost in administration fees or with handouts and 'bandaid' solutions that don't address core issues or create lasting change. Here's some of what your donation can help accomplish:
- You can be a part of this project and create positive change that will last for generations.
- Teach the indigenous Mayan people to become self-reliant, to improve nutrition, to care for the earth, and to teach their children.
- Help us create the living 'YouTube video' necessary to help the local community catch the vision, and take our past successes to the next level.
- Your support can make this project a reality.
There are lots of places you can spend your money. Donating to this project is a way that you can contribute to a cause that will have a lasting impact that will positively affect generations. Peace!
What You Get
All perks are authentic crafts from local artisans and support the local community (besides being really cool!)
Right click and select 'View Image' to enlarge the picture.
Woven bracelet ($15 Donation)
Beaded Bracelet ($25 Donation)
Scarf ($50 Donation)
Shoulder Bag (Small) ($75 Donation)
Burlap Coffee Bag ($100 Donation)
Woven iPad Bag ($150 Donation)
Painting (Small) ($250 Donation)
Huipil (Blouse) Pillow Case ($500 Donation)
Painting (Large) ($1,000 Donation)
Leather Laptop Bag ($2000 Donation)
Other Ways You Can Help
Even the smallest donation can make a difference. If you can't make a monetary contribution, will you please help us to spread the word?
- Use the Indiegogo share tools to spread the word on Facebook, Twitter and your other favorite social sites.
- Email friends and family to tell them you've contributed, or simply share this amazing project with them.
- Learn more about our project on our website: MayanEcoHomestead.org
- Pretty please?