Mayan Families works in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala to implement community-led programs that address systemic barriers and build cultural strength and resilience. Our work is driven by the expertise of Mayan staff and community leaders towards long-term, meaningful change in the areas of education, nutrition & health, and economic development.
Our mission is to advance education, nutrition & health and economic development, through community-led initiatives which build on existing resources and knowledge.
Our vision is to ensure that Mayan communities in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala are strong, vibrant and self-sufficient.
We sell artisan products made with traditional techniques, and crafted wooden carpentry products.
We have a medical clinic and offer medical brigades in rural communities, focused on malnutrition and vulnerable populations.
We have a scholarship program for school and university aged students, a preschool program to offer early childhood education and nutrition support, and a Community Learning program to support students struggling in school.
We have an Artisan Program to provide artisan women with markets for their products and pay fair wages, and a Trade Schools program, offering training in vocational skills to increase job prospects.
We focus our health programs around treating chronic malnutrition and preventing malnutrition in the first 1000 days, and we have a community health program where we support vulnerable populations of elderly, pregnant women and children with malnutrition, and provide clean water in communities.
We focus on community development in three key areas: education, nutrition and health, and economic development, which targets the overall aim of reducing poverty and increasing well-being in Mayan communities. We base our three pillars and all of our programmatic decisions on evidence from three sources: expertise of local indigenous staff, a formal community needs assessment, and relationship-building and open communication with community leaders.
Through our Education and Sponsorship programs, we have kept children studying through difficult personal and economic circumstances, by helping with the costs of attending school and therefore have ensured that many students continue studying after 6th grade and make it all the way to graduating high school and university. We have also given preschool-aged children the chance to get a head start on their education in rural communities, teaching them Spanish whilst also celebrating indigenous languages, and ensuring they receive the calories and nutrients they need to prevent malnutrition at an early age.
Our Nutrition and Health programs have provided many families at risk of malnutrition and health problems with monthly food support, access to tailored medical care, safe stoves and clean water filters, and sexual health education. All of this has helped families to stay healthy and increase their immune systems, reducing the risk of malnutrition and chronic health issues.
Through our Economic Development programs, we have provided vocational training opportunities and access to markets for products to many young people and artisan women, which has given them a stable income and allowed them to increase their job opportunities.
In 2019, we supported 1497 students’ education in our sponsorship program, provided 14,220 healthy meals to our preschool students, delivered 1133 food baskets to families at risk of malnutrition and gave work to 190 artisan women through selling their products.
Mayan Families has recently set up its new local partner organization in Guatemala (in 2019), following a separation from our previous partner and a complete restructuring of all of our work and programs. We are therefore still in the process of transitioning and increasing the impact of our work, ensuring that it is community-led, ethically managed, and sustainable. This includes being in the process of setting up monitoring and evaluation systems, and gathering baseline data to continue measuring impact in the coming months and years.
Size and/or structure
After an initial very fast but unhealthy growth of the organization in its first 10 years, with a change of administration we cut back the size of the budget and staffing considerably, and then have been building it back up very slowly and in a much more sustainable way. We have restructured the organization within the last 18 months to have a more horizontal reporting structure, and center indigenous leadership.
We have recently completed the organization’s first strategic planning process, where all stakeholders of the organization worked together to decide on what services we offer. This led to us changing significantly the outputs of our programs, making it more centered around long-term, sustainable development and moving away from a charity model, and centering decisions on local staff and community leadership.
Way in which you collaborate or work with others
We have become a lot more open to partnerships with other local NGOs, government agencies, community groups, local leadership, etc, in order to strengthen our work and achieve more through collaboration.
Maintain our current budget, funding and staff, and develop the programs within our means.
Train staff to develop leadership skills and therefore be able to offer a higher quality service to the communities.
Develop strong monitoring and evaluation systems to be focused about what our desired outcomes are.
Through demonstrating strong impact, attract more high-level grant opportunities to be able to sustainably grow the size of our programs and number of beneficiaries.
Have a strong, qualified, indigenous-led team who are completely in tune with community needs and strengths, who can develop quality programs alongside community leaders.
Have a good feedback system to assess impact and be agile in changing operations to increase impact in the long-term.