Maya-led, Community Driven


The Heart of the Maya World

Natün Atitlán

Natün works in one of Guatemala’s most vulnerable regions, the department of Sololá, situated in the Western Highlands. This region is renowned as the Heart of the Maya World and encompasses the Lake Atitlán watershed. Sololá is home to a diverse Indigenous Maya population, including the Maya Kaqchikel, K’iche’, and Tz’utujil, with an estimated population of around 150,000 individuals.

These communities have grappled with systemic inequality and discrimination for centuries, more recently, a legacy of the oppression and systematic racism endured during the nation’s 30-year armed conflict.

Today, we take pride in working with the rural Indigenous communities of Sololá, including Tierra Linda, Peña Blanca, Santa María El Tablón, San Jorge, San Andrés Semetabaj, Santa Catarina Palopó, San Antonio Palopó, Chukumuk, and many more. Natün is dedicated to strengthening and uplifting our partner communities, driving positive, sustainable change.

In the Land of Eternal Spring, a harsh legacy persists from a 36-year armed conflict war marked by violence, genocide, and human rights violations. Indigenous communities, disproportionately affected, confront and battle issues of hunger, malnutrition, income inequality, and recourse scarcity.

Ranked among the world’s most economically unequal societies, Guatemala grapples with poverty rates and malnutrition challenges. Indigenous populations, constituting 60% of the country, face systematic under-resourcing and live on an average income of $1.20 per person per day. The situation is urgent, and Natün is committed to addressing these pressing issues.

Natün recognizes the rich human, natural and cultural resources within our partner communities, which makes the communities strong. Natün works to complement these existing resources and knowledge in Indigenous communities to generate a lasting and sustainable impact through programs that address the most underserved areas and generate access to quality education, optimize income-generating opportunities, and promote appropriate nutrition and health systems for the communities.

In each of our program pillars, Maya community members lead our efforts, focusing on the development of topic-specific knowledge and skills rooted in community needs and strengths. Our programs share these principles:

  • Preserving Maya Traditions: We promote Maya traditions, culture, and language, utilizing ancestral techniques and knowledge.
  • Capacity Development: We build expertise and capacity in specific themes and objectives aligned with community needs and strengths.
  • Community-Led Approach: Our initiatives prioritize community benefit, fostering agency and internal solutions.
  • Resource Optimization: We maximize existing resources, including infrastructure, staff, funding – and existing skills in communities.
  • Holistic Development: Our three program pillars work in synergy, strengthening each other to achieve truly holistic community development.