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Our Mission

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 .