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Putting Love into Action and Weaving a Better Future

Weaving together communities passion for education, the environment, and entrepreneurship.

Photo of Ingrid Villaseñor
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Tejiendo Futuros is a non-profit organization located in Panajachel, Solola, Guatemala. Our mission is to create a space where sustainable living is accessible and realistic for everyone, regardless of social standing, race, or economic status. We aim to empower and inspire people to change themselves, and their communities to develop a more environmentally and economically sustainable world. We are developing three main projects in order to achieve our vision and create a real change in Guatemala. Our aim is empowering the members of our community through the following projects: Holistic education to children (El Arbol del Niño); Our main focus is pre-primary and primary education in Panajachel. We have adapted a holistic education model that allows children to develop to their fullest potential. Our program encourages children to connect and be aware of themselves, their roots, their community and Mother Earth, empowering them to become agents of change and transformation. Agroecological farm Ka’Ulew; The second and undergoing stage of our project is to build an intelligently designed volunteer/permaculture center for all to access and learn about healthy living, cultivation, and sustainability. The center, named after the Mayan word for our land Ka’ulew, aims to offer hands-on permaculture training whilst also offering affordable organic products to the local community, our students, and the families we work with. We want to equip members of our community with a path to a more sustainable and prosperous life not only through food access but applicable means of bio-construction and social entrepreneurship. Local Entrepreneurial Project With this entrepreneurial program each person will have the opportunity to discover their gifts, potencial, and passion to commit their energy to a future that weaves together the necessities and aspirations of the individual and community. Through teamwork we hope to create a just, balanced, and organized society

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our ultimate long-term vision is for the whole Guatemalan community to prosper and benefit from our projects with greater social cohesion and sustainable community led change. The initial beneficiaries include 42 children between the ages of 4 – 12 years and their family members. These 36 families maintain low income life styles in Panajachel and surrounding rural communities. We believe in order to see a real change, we must encourage family members to be involved in their children’s education. Families play a crucial role in a child’s development, adaptability, and comfort ability to flourish at school, home, and their broader community of 20,000. We also aim to benefit teachers by providing them the necessary skills and materials to evolve traditional education towards a holistic model. We believe in the importance of adaptability within the learning environment. As such, we encourage creative means of material comprehension, student collaboration, and impact evaluation.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Tejiendo Futuros invigorates sustainable development by placing citizens at the helm of their future and aspirations. We act to empower the skills that exist, nurture the soil, and inspire all to think collectively and act with agency. Providing an educational path beyond the public system that operates under a traditionally narrow view of assessing intelligence, supports future creative and critical thinkers. Some private institutions embrace reformed education however, our students do not have access to these opportunities nor do these schools engage with the home environment extensively. Many households we engage belong to the rural Mayan community that carries a deep history of systemic violence and marginalization. Neglect by social and civil services is often so internalized that ascending poverty is trumped by hunger. Our farm alleviates the immediate need for food sovereignty while the entrepreneur insinuate balances continued progress at a pace set by the community.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Energized and Inspired by the love within the Panajachel community, Tejiendo Futuros weaves together educating our future, empowering our present, and celebrating our environmental and cultural past.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • No, but we are a formal initiative through an accelerator, hub, or other entity.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The greatest inspiration was my father who was a political activist and leader who gave his life for the sake of our country; in the ‘80s he was disappeared as a political threat. My mother inspired me to be courageous and face adversities with resilience. Working within rural communities and seeing the realities of inequality fellow guatemalans experience everyday made me realize the lack of access and opportunities people face to achieve dreams for themselves and children's future.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

I have worked in public schools where children are taught to perform within the standards society has laid before them. Especially within rural Mayan communities where students are immersed in poverty and social exclusion I have witnessed the current education system fail to inspire innovative thought and questioning systems of power that have held families back for generations. Our holistic education project aims to provide children with the opportunity to discover new skills and a new way of living. With this vested perspective on life, we hope to create a change within Guatemalan social advancement. Guatemala is a biodiversity hotspot with immense potential to provide sustainable livelihoods. There also exists historically deep Mayan cultural practices that collaborate with and protects the environment. By reviving traditional local knowledge with modern permacultural practices our farm aims to restore our land to its full potential and create job opportunities.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

It is very important to us to join forces in order to support the population and be able to influence public policies; for that reason we are working together with local authorities, community development councils, Ministry of Education and with NGOs: Mama Hope, Starfish One by One, Casa de Arte, Sotzil, Long Way Home, Vivamos Mejor, PAMI, IMAP, Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad de Juárez, Chikach, Fundación Trilema, Casa Ronald McDonalds, Clinica Santiago.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The people of Panajachel share a strong sense of family and community. Our projects aim to empower this network of compassion by promoting family involvement in education and organizing civile outreach and support at the neighborhood level. The vast majority of individuals in Panajachel are semi-skilled physical laborers. By facilitating the hardworking hands of Panajachel with farm land and space to sharpen their skills they can advance their existing talents and interests.

Geographic Focus

We are based in Panajachel, Solola, Guatemala which is in the southwestern highlands.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The main project is continuous however we aim to have our subprojects up and running as follows: Education Project: Enhance school kitchen to provide healthy food for students – 1 month Expansion of the school – 24 months Farming Project: Construction of house on land – 6 months Construction of working space – 12 months Preparation of the land for agriculture – 18 months Development of the eco farm – 24 months Social Entrepreneur Project- 36 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

Attachments (1)

EL ÁRBOL DEL NIÑO ingles.pdf

Slide 13th shows visual actual plan of our school.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Paul Ennis

Ingrid - Congratulations on your project. The importance of early childhood education is something I share with you deeply. Best of luck in the Challenge. Our project is 'Read To Me Now', which is all about the importance of literacy and the many and varied pathways to attain strong reading and thinking skills by reading-aloud to children and even adults. Enjoy your day. - Paul

Photo of Ingrid Villaseñor

Dearest Paul~ We could not agree with you more about the wonders and empowerment that comes with reading aloud. Currently, our students are engaging in a semester long project where groups are reading out loud to each other. Our ultimate goal in this particular instance is to introduce our students to the joys of reading especially because many of our parents are illiterate, limiting student access and exposure to reading at home. If you have any suggestions to encourage parent participation despite this obstacle I would be interested in chatting more! Paul Ennis 

Photo of Paul Ennis

Good Day ingrid,

It is wonderful to learn of your work and your dreams.

So good as well to know you are working with your students with a focus on reading-aloud in order to encourage their love and enjoyment of reading.

The process of working with the parents and family members of your students who do not read well, or do not know how to read at all, is one that may take some time.

What I will say, that I know you understand, is that love is contagious.

So, the love of reading that you are awakening within your students will grow and spread out like the roots of a plant, then the branches, flowers and fruits will follow.

Your job as the gardener (teacher) is to make sure the plants (your students) are always fed (read-aloud to as often as can be done) and always nourished with good soil and sunshine (provided with books and reading materials of many different types).

Then you the gardener (teacher) must weed the garden (fight against lazyness and boredom) and when it is harvest time share the wealth (encourage the parents, or other family members to see how reading is doing their students so much good).

Beyond that, the garden you are growing (the ability of your students to read and to love to read) will each year spread and take over new lands - almost all by itself.

For those who do not read I think it is helpful to remember that they are like people who have never tasted a melon fresh from a garden.

If someone has never before tasted a melon they may not want to because it is new and different - and sometimes new and different things make us nervous or scared.

Or, maybe they are shy or embarrassed to admit that they have never tasted a melon.

So, your job (our jobs - you and I) are to grow the best, sweetest, most nourishing melons we can (teach as many kids to read and love to read as we can) and share them with others - especially those who have never tasted a melon before.

Sorry about all of the gardening analogies.

Can you tell I am actually planting melons in my gardens today here in California, USA?

Nonetheless, they are good analogies for us both to remember as we go about our work.

Also, with your parents or family members who do not read - start small and use printed materials that are simple in the beginning.

Perhaps there are food preparation recipes or shopping lists that they can relate to in ways that do not require them to 'read' just words/letters, but allow for them to see a picture, or be familiar with some 'thing', which they can then see or associate the word(s) with that describe it.

If there are pictures of things, or actual things - fruits, vegetables, tools, pots, pans, household objects, sports stuff - that they already 'know' what they are, then they will be more comfortable learning what and how those things have words attached to them and each of those words will contain letters that they can begin to know and decode and become familiar with.

Learning how to read is a process that takes time to accomplish and it is something that a person does have to want to do.

However you can discover what they can be motivated by in order to see the value that reading can bring into their lives - that will be one of the things that will make the process go more quickly and smoothly.

I am happy to know you, what you are doing in Guatemala and about your Mayan heritage.

If 'Read To Me Now' continues along in this OpenIDEO challenge process perhaps you and I can create a project between us that will help both your efforts and mine, as well.

Doing that kind of 'work' together, with you and others, is exactly why I've started this whole process within the OpenIDEO.

Time will tell...

Meantime, if what I've shared has been helpful let's keep chatting as we both have time to do so.

Enjoy your days...

- Paul

Photo of Allison Pinto

Ingrid, We share a deep belief in the power of coming together around young children as a means of strengthening social cohesion and increasing resident-led community change. We orient to children as "neighborkids," who are themselves talented as community builders and civic changemakers! Sounds like your community of Panajachel has deep respect for children as well, so some of the approaches that neighbors here are developing might be of interest to children, families and fellow residents in Panajachel. If so, perhaps we could find ways to put neighbors of the two communities in touch with one another! See what you think:
Thanks and best wishes, Allison

Photo of Ingrid Villaseñor

Allison, neighborkids' use of community asset mapping and encouraging the youth to creatively write the stories of their futures touches the heart of what we are trying to accomplish with Tejiendo Futuros. It would be a pleasure to connect further and see how our children and communities can build each other up!
Abrazos, Ingrid Neighborkid Changemakers