Maya-led, Community Driven

logo-01

Programs

Programas-Natün

We recently undertook a rigorous strategic planning process and are proud to present the steps we are taking to achieve our goals as an organization.

The strategic planning process involved the entire Natün community, including local Indigenous leaders, community institutions, program participants, and other stakeholders. Together, we have developed a strategic plan and methodology that enriches and strengthens communities´ capacity to develop and improve project systems that improve quality of life.

As a result, we can proudly state that all programs promote Maya traditions, culture and language, focus on developing expertise and capacity based on community needs and strengths, and center community benefit, promoting independence, self-sufficiency, and internal solutions.

Through our Education department, we create a positive impact that will benefit an entire community for years to come. By educating students today, we foster generational change to help communities overcome poverty in the future. Recognizing the importance of developing leaders for the future, our staff works with educators, parents, and schools to develop an accessible, bilingual, culturally responsive education that encourages critical thinking, creativity, and cultural pride.

The Education Department comprises three programs: Preschool Nutrition Centers, Seeds of Education Scholarship Program, and the Learning Communities program. All of which complement and strengthen local educational systems to provide access to academic opportunities for students of all ages.

Seeds of Education

The Seeds of Education Scholarship Program is one of our longest-standing programs and offers holistic support to scholarship students, their families, and local schools.

The program aims to increase access to high-quality education for students of all ages by offering conditional cash transfers for scholarship students, extracurricular workshops for students and their parents, and capacity building for local schools and teachers.

The community-focused model contributes to the educational development of the most at-risk students from primary school through university and their communities.

Preschool Nutrition Centers

Natün operates three Preschool Nutrition Centers for rural Indigenous children ages 3 and 4, focusing on children who are combating malnutrition or from low-income families.

The Preschools focus on kickstarting social, linguistic and emotional development through high-quality education, nutritional support, and parental education. To ensure students are prepared for a future of academic success, our staff of local teachers use a play-based learning model and a Spanish-Maya Kaqchikel learning environment.

Through a combined effort of our Preschools and our Nutrition & Health Department, we offer access to high-quality medical care and nutritional support to enrolled families.

Learning Communities

In combined efforts, Natün’s team of tutors and university scholarship recipients offer tutoring and mentorship to support primary and secondary students having academic difficulties.

This program creates safe spaces for students to engage with mentors, learn leadership skills, and improve academic performance via tutoring sessions and Youth Leadership workshops for teenage students.

The Nutrition & Health Department comprises four essential programs that address the critical health needs of vulnerable populations in rural communities around Lake Atitlán.

The department is guided by two transversal themes: community and family agriculture and nutrition. These themes influence and guide our programs to increase access to nutritional and medical services with cultural relevance, reducing the impact of child malnutrition and improving the food security of vulnerable populations.

Community Health
Our Community Health program serves as the backbone of our department, ensuring that community members have access to healthcare services, clean water, and food security. These goals are completed in part by our Community Agriculture project, which brings a sustainable model of cooperative-style community and family gardens and revives traditional Maya agro-ecological farming practices.

Complementing these efforts are our training workshops for Community Health Promoters, who are Indigenous community members who possess deep ancestral knowledge and will be able to increase Natün’s reach.

Women’s Health Program
Our Women’s Health Program aims to expand healthcare coverage for women of childbearing age, improving the quality of primary care and reducing infant maternal mortality.

Since 2016 the program has provided workshops and training to facilitate open discussion and raise awareness of sexual and reproductive health topics, including breast cancer, cervical cancer, empowerment, and family planning.

This work centers and values coordination and co-constructing knowledge with Maya midwives and traditional healers.

Growing Healthy
Our Infant and Child Malnutrition program targets one of the most pressing health issues in the region and works to prevent malnutrition in children under five. The program aims to reduce the risks associated with acute and chronic malnutrition by providing holistic nutritional health and education services, focusing on the pregnancy period and early developmental years or the ‘first 1000 days’. Our team of local Indigenous medical professionals collaborates with local health centers to identify children combating malnutrition and provide life-changing support to transition out of malnutrition.

Offering families holistic support, Natün hosts workshops for families on the importance of, and techniques for, malnutrition prevention, nutritious food preparation, and drinking clean water.

Elder Wellness Program
Our newest program, Elder Wellness, supports the aging population of one partner community and provides participants with access to essential health services such as physical therapy, medical consultations, mental health services, and nutritional support.

In addition to regular interactive activities, motor-skills training, and craft-making, the Elderly Center provides senior participants nutritious meals, regular at-home health checkups, and follow-up treatment as needed.

We believe that one of the most valuable things we can give our partner communities is the opportunity for stable work– to earn a living wage and support families with dignity. Our Economic Development Department advances the professional and economic growth of rural Indigenous women and men, including many who are not Spanish speakers or literate.

The Department comprises three programs: the Artisan Program, Trade School and Vocational Workshops, and the Entrepreneurship Program, all of which promote local knowledge and techniques and increase opportunities for income generation for families and communities to drive economic independence within communities

Respeto-Valores-Natün

Artisan Program
Natün’s Artisan Program works directly with rural Indigenous women artisans in the Lake Atitlan region (with over 160 artisans on our registers), cultivating domestic and international markets for traditional beadwork products and world-renowned ancestral weaving. The sale of fair-wage Guatemalan handicrafts increases families’ income, promotes the valorization of the traditional Maya artisan techniques, and supports Natün to advance economic development opportunities in the region through reinvestment of all profits back into participant training.

Trade School and Vocational Workshops
The Natün Trade School provides certificate workshops in carpentry, sewing, needlework, computation, baking and cooking, and business administration – skills relevant to communities’ needs and assets.

Through partnerships with the Ministry of Education, graduates receive an accredited certificate that allows them to be competitive in the local job market and turn their newly learned skills into tools for income generation.

Entrepreneurship Program
Through the Entrepreneurship Program, our team of local experts implements a comprehensive, culturally-relevant entrepreneurship model focusing on personal and professional development. Specifically, it promotes the economic independence of participants by providing training and tailored technical support for developing entrepreneurial skills, leadership, and sustainability.

Participants form groups within their community to receive workshops, launch savings groups and develop business plans and– after approval of the plan –receive a seed capital loan at a below-market interest rate and technical assistance to start their businesses and access markets.