our work

ecolibri

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

Our primary goal is to increase access to education exponentially, ensuring inclusive and equitable opportunities for all through an annual scholarship program for indigenous students around Lake Atitlán.

Guatemala has one of the highest illiteracy 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.

​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.

UNITED NATIONS

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Our work in education contributes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1, 4 & 8.

EDUCATION IN GUATEMALA DATA:

Every donation is a powerful catalyst that helps people gain access to the knowledge and tools they need to sustain their lives and livelihoods. General donations contribute to the running costs of our organization including accountancy, stationary/ office, transportation, legal fees.

$30k

5

$50k

ANNUAL FUNDING
SCHOOL PARTNERS
PROJECT FUNDING

$30k

5

$50k

ANNUAL FUNDING
SCHOOL PARTNERS
PROJECT FUNDING

Sponsoring a child is a commitment to improving the opportunities for a student. With your support, you can be part of changing the future. We allocate and assign sponsorship to the children in most need.

Potential sponsors can sign up to donate a minimum annual donation of $365 to our program. With this, you will be paired with a child from San Juan La Laguna and receive updates of progress throughout the year. Your donation pays for:

  • School Stationery

  • Healthy Snack

  • School uniforms, sportswear, and shoes

  • Food Basket

  • Music Instrument or Art Supplies

ANNUAL SPONSORSHIP

$30k

5

$50k

ANNUAL FUNDING
SCHOOL PARTNERS
PROJECT FUNDING

5

65+

10

SCHOOLS
STUDENTS
COUNTRIES

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

250+

5

100+

VOLUNTEERS
SCHOOLS
DONORS

ecolibri stories

who we are

get involved

For centuries, rural Maya people have forged a subsistence livelihood from their milpas, small rain-fed plots of land where they grow a mixture of corn, beans, herbs, and gourd vegetables. The country has one of the most unequal systems of land distribution, and with population growth, has left the most rural campesinos (peasants), with access to little arable land. After the food shortages in 2020 as a result of COVID-19, Ecolibri established a program throughout the village of San Juan La Laguna, to create an infrastructure for sustainable community farming methods. This includes a seed bank, vertical gardens, and allotments design, and an education strategy, to help alleviate malnutrition and food insecurity.

Guatemala is known for its ethnic diversity and creativity. In 2011, we launched Scarfitecture, a unique collaboration between indigenous female artisans of Lake Atitlan with seven internationally-renowned architects. The challenge was to translate architectural drawings into a collection of scarves using weaving, embroidery, natural hand-dying fibers, and recycled materials. 

Guatemala is known for its ethnic diversity and creativity. In 2011, we launched Scarfitecture, a unique collaboration between indigenous female artisans of Lake Atitlan with seven internationally-renowned architects. 

According to the United Nations, "COVID-19 is pushing rising rates of hunger and food insecurity even higher globally." In our communities, disruptions in food supply chains, income losses, widening social inequities, an altered food environment, and price hikes triggered food shortages throughout 2020. One of the most important symbols and practices at the heart of Mayan cultural identity is the production and consumption of corn, it is the staple food that connects communities as a way of life. In response to the food crisis, we fundraised over $20,000 to provide corn to over 365 families throughout the village of San Juan La Laguna. This video documents the first delivery of food aid in April 2020.

The adobe mudbrick is a traditional building material used historically in Guatemala to construct homes. As part of our series on discovering and documenting natural sustainable materials used in the country, in this video, we talk to a builder in San Juan La Laguna who demonstrates how the bricks are cast, the materials from which they are made, and how the building techniques have changed over the years in the village.

eco

colibrí

Spanish (n.)

a hummingbird

(adj./n.)

ecological or environmental

OVERVIEW

Ecolibri has operated since 2004 to advance education, nutrition, health, environment, gender equity, economy, independence ad creativity for the communities surrounding Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.

LOGO

Our logo is derived from the form of the Maya Nut/Ujuxte nut, (Brosimum alicastrum Swartz) a product of the Ramón tree, one of the tallest trees found in tropical regions of Guatemala, which can reach up to 45m in height. The Maya Nut has been a superfood for the ancient Maya, it is full of essential nutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, magnesium, niacin, and serotonin.

OVERVIEW

Ecolibri has operated since 2004 to advance education, nutrition, health, environment, gender equity, economy, independence ad creativity for the communities surrounding Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.

LOGO

Our logo is derived from the form of the Maya Nut/Ujuxte nut, (Brosimum alicastrum Swartz) a product of the Ramón tree, one of the tallest trees found in tropical regions of Guatemala, which can reach up to 45m in height. The Maya Nut has been a superfood for the ancient Maya, it is full of essential nutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, magnesium, niacin, and serotonin.

OVERVIEW

Ecolibri has operated since 2004 to advance education, nutrition, health, environment, gender equity, economy, independence and creativity for the communities surrounding Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. We are a highly sought partner by local and international parties in the development and promotion of social enterprises and community improvement programs.

METHOD

We carry out our work by leading and promoting local and international resources in the establishment of respectful and sustainable projects and activities. Throughout our work, we collect and analyze key data to shape our decision-making processes side-by-side with local community leaders We collaborate with international universities bringing students to work on projects and programs to share intercultural practices and experiences.

VISION

Our core purpose is to uplift indigenous communities in a region fraught with poverty, malnourishment, limited education, lack of opportunity, poor health, sub-standard living conditions, violence, and disease by leveraging international networks to provide people the access to resources that will have a lasting impact upon future generations.

VISUAL IDENTITY

Our logo is derived from the form of the Maya Nut also known as the Ujuxte nut, (Brosimum alicastrum Swartz) a product of the Ramón tree, one of the tallest trees found in tropical regions of Guatemala, which can reach up to 45m in height. The Maya Nut has been a superfood for the ancient Maya, it is full of essential nutrients, antioxidants, amino acids, magnesium, niacin, and serotonin.

UJUXTE NUT

As a highly nutritious endemic nut, we incorporated it symbolically as a seed form that holds a rich and significant Maya heritage. An emblem of heritage, knowledge, growth, and form. Read more about the nutritional facts of the nut:
Dita Zakova

Dita is the Founder of Ecolibri Organization. Since relocating to Guatemala from Czech Republic in 2004, she has led high-impact opportunities through a range of necessary projects in collaboration with indigenous communities surrounding Lake Atitlán. Using her background in business, passion for design, and early training in medicine, Dita has forged partnerships with renowned International Institutions, Artists, Architects, Medics and like-minded organizations to lead initiatives to foster education for all, provide nutrition and food security, improve health in the home, empower women through grass-roots programs and inspire creativity.


At age 19, Dita went to study medicine at Prague’s renowned Charles University in the midst of 1989’s non-violent “Velvet Revolution.” By day she and her fellow students devoted themselves to their studies, and by night they devoted themselves to democracy. After more than 50 years, the communist dictatorship fell, and she was free to follow her dreams, without fear of being followed herself. Ten years later, New York-based Horton International, a global executive search management team, hired Dita to establish its Prague branch. After years of hard work in the business world, in 2004 Dita felt it was time for a change and without hesitation traded her business suits to begin an entirely new adventure in Guatemala.


In the early years of Ecolibri between 2004-2011 Dita led projects including: building sustainable stoves in partnership with the Calcirya Foundation; hosted research-led discovery projects with students and faculty from Brown University; established sustainable community farming projects, kitchens and educational facilities, through construction of communal spaces; a collaboration with The French American School of Rhode Island and The Met School in Providence, Rhode Island; and she prioritized projects that would help create more sustainable opportunities and improve living conditions.


In 2011, Dita created Scarfitecture, a multifaceted interdisciplinary project between female weavers in Lake Atitlán and Internationally renowned Architects. Over 9 months Dita worked with and led a team of 50 artisans to interpret architectural schematics and concepts through a collection of scarves which were then auctioned in an exhibition launched in New York City to critical acclaim. Dita has worked extensively to design and create collections of textile goods and products from Guatemala through her design labels Untitled Collection and Materyal.


Over the past 6 years Dita has solidified Ecolibri’s Child Sponsorhip program which unites international donors with children in need to help them get the most out of their education. 


In 2015 she established Anzan Atitlán, a boutique stay, restaurant and spa on the shores of Lake Atitlán. Through the Anzan network Dita creates relationships with international parties, to share and experience Ecolibri projects and work.


In 2019 she co-founded Anzan Design (AND) a creative studio located in Guatemala which is used as a collaborative platform to connect academic institutions, scientists, architects, artists, cooks, artisans, nonprofits and researchers through the production of imaginative and impactful interdisciplinary projects in art, architecture, brand, film, music, to design resilient resources for discovery in an expanded social practice. 


In 2020 Dita established a unique partnership with Principals from Yale University’s Center for Ecosystems + Architecture (Yale CEA) to design and deploy sustainable farming solutions to impact 3,500 individuals within the communities of Lake Atitlán through the ELN Guatemala project starting in 2022.

Nohemi Perez

Nohemi is Ecolibri's key point of contact between our sponsors, programs and community. She actively leads participation in our programs throughout the community network and is instrumental in the research, conception and development of our education outreach and child sponsorship program. 


For the past 20 years Nohemi has been a central figure in the community of San Juan La Laguna, teaching the next generation of children at the Escuela Oficial Urbana Mixta "Enrique Gómez Carrillo", ENGOCA School, where she was School Principal from 2016-2020. 


Through her experience, knowledge and relationship with the community network as a trusted leader, Ecolibri is able to position itself, international resources and projects as a key partner within the communities of Lake Atitlán.