foster

education

Our goal is to increase access to education exponentially, by providing annual scholarships to indigenous students around Lake Atitlán. 

 
Guatemala has one of the lowest literacy rates in the western world, with indigenous students disproportionately disadvantaged. On average, indigenous people have 2.5 years of schooling compared to 5.7 years for the non-indigenous population. Schools are underfunded and often have poor infrastructure, with few educational resources and equipment, inadequate facilities, and limited access to clean water/sanitation. 

Due to educational disadvantage, parents occupy a lower socioeconomic status. With more than 50% of the population of Guatemala living below the poverty line, many families simply cannot afford the costs of school uniforms, sports outfits, shoes, books, stationery, supplies, and a healthy snack (none of which are supplied by the government). Suffering from extreme poverty, many families choose to work together to sustain themselves during the seasonal crop harvest, causing many children to drop out of school and remain illiterate. 

Image: Students in a classroom at ENGOCA School San Juan
Image: Students receiving sponsorship donations

​Indigenous parents generally have less schooling than non-indigenous parents, and thus, they occupy a lower socioeconomic status. With more than 50% of the population of Guatemala living below the poverty line, many families simply cannot afford the costs of school uniforms, sports outfits, shoes, books, stationery, supplies and a healthy snack (none of which are supplied by the government). Suffering from extreme poverty, many families choose to work together to sustain themselves during the seasonal crop harvest, causing many children to drop out of school and remain illiterate. 

We partner with local schools to identify the children with the greatest need of support and help them remain in school for longer, bolster confidence, increase literacy, and expand achievement. This support provides students with a more promising economic future, giving them a better chance to live a longer, healthier, and more prosperous life. ​In our program, we pair international sponsors with students, providing an annual stipend of $365 ($1 per day), for the purchase of school materials, stationery, uniforms, sports clothes, shoes, and a daily healthy snack.

Find out more about how to contribute to our child sponsorship program here.

We partner with local schools to identify the children with the greatest need of support and help them remain in school for longer, bolster confidence, increase literacy, and expand achievement. This support provides students with a more promising economic future, giving them a better chance to live a longer, healthier, and more prosperous life. ​In our program, we pair international sponsors with students, providing an annual stipend of $365 ($1 per day), for the purchase of school materials, stationery, uniforms, sports clothes, shoes, and a daily healthy snack.

Find out more about how to contribute to our child sponsorship program here.

Image: Young boy in San Juan La Laguna

65

5

100+

CHILDREN
SPONSORED
SCHOOL
PARTNERS
DONORS/
FUNDRAISERS

#education #children #women

improve

health

We partner with researchers and scientists to design and deploy low-cost systems to create healthier environmental quality in the home.

64+

64+

100+

SUSTAINABLE
STOVES BUILT
WATER TANKS PROVIDED
HOMES IMPROVED

#health #water #air #energy #food

 
Surrounding Lake Atitlán, excessive consumption of firewood, is having a devastating impact on the local environment, significantly degrading the land. In addition to this, municipal water is potentially contaminated by agricultural runoff and may harbor waterborne disease-producing pathogens. This unfiltered and unprocessed water, in turn, is then only rationed across villages two to three times per week, stored in open top water tanks, and used within dwellings.

Inside the home, indigenous women spend on average 8 hours per day cooking on open fires that expose families to toxic smoke that can lead to chronic respiratory illness and lower life expectancy.

To address these challenges, we are collaborating with Yale Center for Ecosystems + Architecture (Yale CEA), to design integrated plant wall infrastructures that simultaneously remediate indoor air, produce food, and filter water. Through these highly adaptable novel systems, we can mitigate waterborne illness, eliminate harmful pathogens through on-site solar-powered chemistry, generate a full nutritional profile for families, and purify indoor air. 

Image: Woman and child in a typical household kitchen
Image: Family in front of traditional adobe brick home
Image: Family collecting firewood from surrounding mountains

Additionally, since 2008 we have built safe, energy-saving, sustainable stoves, that vent 99.9% of toxic smoke produced from open-flame fires out of the home, and help to curb deforestation and climate change by consuming 70% less wood. Since multiple pots can cook simultaneously, cooking time is reduced, and injury from burns is drastically reduced.

To contribute to sustainability, we participate in ongoing research and study of potential materials to use for housing construction, such as adobe brick, maguey cactus, lake reeds, and bamboo, as well as creating frameworks to use solar-powered cooking methods to reduce dependency on carbon-emitting processes.

Read more about our project with Yale CEA here. Watch the video of our sustainable stoves construction, here.

empower

women

Our objective is to guarantee women’s rights and accelerate empowerment - by  promoting gender equity and increasing participation at the local level.

75+

1k+

18k+

FEMALE-LED
INITIATIVES
FEMALE PARTICIPANTS
INDIVIDUALS IMPACTED

#women #lgbtqi

Guatemala has a history of discrimination against indigenous populations and women in particular. For many women, access to financial resources, health services, and education is still limited. This is a country where simply being a woman can be a risk factor to being a victim of sexual violence, domestic abuse, institutional discrimination, and femicide.​

​​In 2011, the illiteracy rate among indigenous women was 48%, and for indigenous men was 25%, demonstrating the high level of female social exclusion. Women spend 6 hours a day in non-compensated labor for family well-being as well as 7.5 hours in paid labor per day. In essence, women are overworked and undersupported by weak State institutions. ​

Image:  Indigenous women, Santa Catarina Palopo
Image: Indigenous mothers in San Juan La Laguna
Image: Indigenous woman, Santiago Atitlán

Our projects support knowledge and skills development, as well as confidence-building through a range of opportunities to secure a favorable socio-economic environment for women, and improve the quality of life for all.

Watch the video of our Scarfitecture project here.

Learn more about our work with women in ecolibri stories here.

facilitate

creativity

We prioiritize projects that encourage creative and critical thinking towards knowledge expansion, increased emotional intelligence, and personal expression.

100+

50+

10+

ARTISANS
INVOLVED
EXHIBITIONS
SPONSORED
ARTISTS

#design #craft #art #music #architecture

 
Guatemala is a multi-ethnic country with a rich cultural heritage. The indigenous populations across the Highlands of the country are known worldwide for their outstanding creative work and traditional crafts including weaving, embroidery basketry, ceramics, painting, and folk music. 
Image: Paintings by indigenous artists

Creative and critical thinking is integral to all possible occupations and situations. Through the process of artistic problem-solving and creation, interaction is increased across neurological pathways responsible for attention, focus, brainstorming, daydreaming, and monitoring of one's own internal stream of consciousness towards informed decision-making and mental well-being.

Image: Students playing the national instrument: the marimba
Image: Ceramics and wood craft makers market

Through our projects, we have seen how creativity can galvanize women, men, and children, instill a firm sense of identity and belonging, and shape individuals to become more responsible citizens towards their community and family.

Some of our past endeavors include: sponsoring art classes for children, providing international exhibition opportunities for indigenous visual artists, collaborating with local weavers to design handmade collections, and developing innovative new weaving techniques.

Watch the video of our Scarfitecture project here.

nutrition

& food

We seek to alleviate malnutrition by providing food relief and nutritious meals for school children and install sustainable micro-farming infrastructures.

In Guatemala, poverty disproportionately affects the indigenous population, where many cannot afford the basic food basket. The livelihood of regional subsistence farmers has been greatly impacted by recent extended dry seasons, driven primarily by global climate change, exploitation of natural resources, degraded and depleted land, small plot sizes, as well as lack of access to finances, agricultural supplies, and technical assistance.

Image: Corn food relief during COVID-19 lockdown

This, in addition to the COVID-19 lockdown, has increased food insecurity and exacerbated malnutrition rates, stunting growth and jeopardizing health for the most vulnerable rural women and children. In 2020, we fundraised over $20,000 to provide food relief in the form of the staple food of corn. We have since established a program to initiate sustainable community farming methods, through garden design and a seed bank.

Contribute to our food relief fundraising here. Watch the video of our food relief and permaculture project here.

Image: Typical family stove making corn tortillas
Image: Children in Community Garden Allotments

50+

375

3182

GARDENS PLANTED
HOUSEHOLDS
IMPACTED
INDIVIDUALS GIVEN FOOD RELIEF

#food #nutrition #wellness

our work

​Indigenous parents generally have less schooling than non-indigenous parents, and thus, they occupy a lower socioeconomic status. With more than 50% of the population of Guatemala living below the poverty line, many families simply cannot afford the costs of school uniforms, sports outfits, shoes, books, stationery, supplies and a healthy snack (none of which are supplied by the government). Suffering from extreme poverty, many families choose to work together to sustain themselves during the seasonal crop harvest, causing many children to drop out of school and remain illiterate. 

We partner with local schools to identify the children with the greatest need of support and help them remain in school for longer, bolster confidence, increase literacy, and expand achievement. This support provides students with a more promising economic future, giving them a better chance to live a longer, healthier, and more prosperous life. ​In our program, we pair international sponsors with students, providing an annual stipend of $365 ($1 per day), for the purchase of school materials, stationery, uniforms, sports clothes, shoes, and a daily healthy snack.

Find out more about how to contribute to our child sponsorship program here.

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ecolibri                                

is a registered non-profit organization that has partnered with indigenous communities around Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, since 2004  

who we are

our team

Dita Zakova, Founder

Nohemi Perez, Co-ordinator

We are a small team comprised of predominantly women, who for almost twenty years have worked to foster educational opportunities, alleviate malnutrition, improve health, empower women, and inspire lasting change.  

 

Ecolibri is derived from a combination of the words eco (ecological) and colibri (hummingbird in Spanish) symbolizing our commitment to local, social and environmental work.

our partners

we are open to connecting with potential new partners. Get in touch with us if you would like to discuss a new collaboration: ecolibri.info@gmail.com

get involved

donate

Every donation is a powerful catalyst that helps people gain access to the knowledge and tools they need to sustain their lives and livelihoods.

$30k

5

$50k

ANNUAL FUNDING
SCHOOL PARTNERS
PROJECT FUNDING

sponsor

Sponsoring a child is a commitment to improving the opportunities for a student. With your support you can be part of changing the future.

65+

10

100+

CHILDREN
COUNTRIES
SPONSORS

volunteer

We facilitate volunteer opportunities such as teaching, medical, recycling, permaculture, creative arts, and administrative support.

250+

5

100+

VOLUNTEERS
SCHOOLS
DONORS

ecolibri

stories

An intimate look at our work and communities, highlighting Guatemala's unique landscape, environment, and culture.

all opportunities begin with education