Asociation de Mujeres del Altiplano is an organization designed to foster independence, security and self-esteem though collaborative effort with female members of the Mayan communities. One of the biggest projects volunteers can do with AMA is build clean air stoves.
Epidemiological research demonstrates that the two leading causes of mortality in our partner communities in Guatemala are upper respiratory infections and waterborne contaminants. For children under five, respiratory illness is the leading cause of death (WHO). These are both linked to the practice of cooking on open pit fires in tiny, unventilated homes.
Stoves built by HSP service-learning partners channel the thick smoke from cooking fires out of the unventilated brick dwellings via a new chimney installed with each stove. The size of the stove is large enough that its stovetop can fit many items at once, making it ideal to be able to provide for large rural families and warm their space. In addition, the stoves are significantly more fuel-efficient, thus decreasing the amount of money women must spend on cooking fuel. Because the stoves consume much less wood than the open pit fires previously used, they decrease the amount of deforestation regionally. Additionally, for every stove built by volunteers, 10 trees are planted in the neighboring forests.
Pixan is a fair trade textile workshop which employs local indigenous artisans. These women are expert weavers who employ ancient and contemporary techniques; such as back-strap weaving, petal loom weaving, and embroidery. The objective is to enable direct and professional trade between local communities and global businesses.
Maya Arts Program
MAP is a collaboration with HSP, AMA, and the International Maya League. It works with children and teachers in the local communities through a variety of programs involving art, creativity and learning. MAP aims to promote environmental stewardship, gender equity, civic participation, and cultural pride. Volunteers assist with children's art lessons/programs, clean classrooms, and build/repair places of learning.
Midwives play a key role in the health and prosperity of a community. Their roles extend far beyond childbirth- they are also medical professionals for the entire community. They are often the most affordable and easiest-accessible source of medical care for members of the indigenous community. As a volunteer, you might assist in medical training programs, observe a midwife at work, or help with childcare.
HSP has partnered with Fundación Yanapak Yachachikuna (FYYChE), an indigenous led education initiative, to aid Kichwa community schools in Chimborazo, Ecuador and give children from the villages a chance at escaping poverty. In the Kichwa language, “yanapak yachachikuna” translates to “servant teachers,” which is what we aim to be for the communities we work alongside.
To attend college in Ecuador students must pass an English proficiency test, and while English education is a required part of all students’ curriculum, there is a marked shortage of English teachers in the country. This results in a concentration of English teachers in the schools of the cities while the rural, dominantly Indigenous schools are left without access to the education necessary for admission to higher education. In one of our partner communities, Balda Lupaxi, not a single child has gone on to attend college since the entrance exam laws went into effect in the late 90’s. Such discriminatory laws are one of the primary reasons that in the rural areas of the central Ecuadorian highlands, 95% of the population still lives in poverty.
Changing weather patterns and population growth have dramatically impacted water security for highland communities. Most Kichwa communities in the Chimborazo region have little direct access to water for daily use, much less for irrigating the crops on which they depend for substance. In recent years, even the wells of the communities closer to the water table have gone dry for months at a time.
Another critical issue for many highland communities is the lack of sanitation and drainage systems. This poses a critical issue for topsoil and ground water contamination that the government has yet resolve.
Our teams connect engineers and volunteer groups with community development boards to plan and construct water pump systems and implement appropriate sanitation solutions.
The People's Farm is both an organic produce farm and community outreach program to promote food sovereignty. Students have an opportunity to work on the organic farm and participate in community education programming around health and nutrition. The farm has an ongoing community extension service to teach sustainable horticulture techniques to tribal members.
A new program to develop sustainable and appropriate building techniques utilizing adobe construction. The objective of the program is meeting critical housing needs by empowering community members with the skills to lead home construction projects through clan and community organizations. Volunteers have the opportunity to participate in adobe brick making and simple building projects.