Semillas para el Futuro traces
its roots to the period from 2003 through 2006 when many Earthwatch
Institute volunteers came to Chocolá to work on the archaeological
site, which was then being excavated under license from the Guatemalan
government. The volunteers embraced being associated with an important
archaeological endeavor and learned about the vast pre-Classic Maya
city that may hold keys to the early development of Mayan language,
system of time and other fundamental cultural practices.
At the same time, many of us
fell in love with the community, its families and children and the
fabulous, healthy mountain environment. As a result, groups of
volunteers organized to help a community struggling with terrible
poverty and deprivation to find a way to prosperity without destroying
their way of life or the delicate balance of their natural environment.
A vision emerged among a core of
volunteers, Guatemalan visionaries and local leaders in which Chocolá
is seen as lifting itself into a more healthy and prosperous community
based on its historic farming skills, adding value to its coffee,
vegetable and cacao producers and through community cooperative action.
In the future, there is great promise for the development of Chocolá as
a tourist destination based on archaeo-tourism; conservation of the
natural resources in which the community is embedded and conservation
of one of the first and greatest coffee processing plants (beneficios)
established during the 1890s. But we also discovered in the early years
that before Chocola could begin to realize its potential, the people needed
training in identifying their own vision for the future, learning to work
together and acquiring the technical skills needed for success. Overcoming
500 years of economic and social servitude is not easily done, but real progress
is being made and our program has been recognized as ground-breaking, by the
Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and others.
In its simplest terms, the
mission of the organization is to help this impoverished community plan
and achieve prosperity based on balanced development principles that
protect cultural tradition, the natural environment and preserve the
Mayan and post-colonial history of the town.
Four operating principles guide
the work we do:
• We provide information and
technical assistance to the people of Chocolá to help them evaluate new
opportunities and to plan.
• We provide direct funding and
other forms of support for community requests for assistance on
specific projects. These requests must come through Chocolá leadership
and must demonstrate sustainability and a willingness and capability of
the community to provide part of the needed resources. All programs must aim at achieving self-sufficiency.
• We will help with programs
that governmental agencies believe may be of value, provided that they
too meet the same test as is noted for the community above.
• All such requests must be
consistent with our mission to help the people and do no harm to either
the Maya archaeological site or to the 1890 Coffee Finca site .