Guatemalan Cultural Action (ACG) 2009-2010 Report
ACG carries out many efforts in areas of community development and education on an ongoing basis, as well as advocacy and grassroots promotion and education of basic human rights. They continue to coordinate two dozen local livestock-raising and community development projects, carried out by women in the Guatemalan departments of El Quiche, Alta Verapaz, and Huehuetenango, and establish new income-generation projects as they are able.
Guatemalan Cultural Action (ACG) was established in 1989 as groupings of Mayan Guatemalans affected by the civil war in that country were able to return to their rural lands and rebuild their lives. Prior to 1989, they had lived as refugees in Mexico or had been internally displaced during the conflict. Global Ministries has partnered with ACG since its beginnings. ACG has four main objectives: 1) to promote community projects in the area of education, culture, economics, and ecology; 2) to promote Mayan and Christian spirituality as inspiring and encouraging sources of meaning for community work; 3) to promote ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue in promotion of a climate of harmony, peace, and solidarity within rural, indigenous communities; and 4) to provide training for the communities on their human rights and how to defend them.
ACG carries out many efforts in areas of community development and education on an ongoing basis, as well as advocacy and grassroots promotion and education of basic human rights. They continue to coordinate two dozen local livestock-raising and community development projects, carried out by women in the Guatemalan departments of El Quiche, Alta Verapaz, and Huehuetenango, and establish new income-generation projects as they are able. ACG provides a holistic scholarship program to support local young people who pursue studies in higher education and at the same time maintain their links to their local home communities. Those who have received scholarship support over the years also organize, along with ACG, broad educational events organized around specific themes, such as the latest one in late November 2010 that featured presentations and discussion around global warming and domestic violence. The event, like most of ACG activities, included a traditional Mayan celebration and a biblical reflection. ACG scholarship students return a portion of the support they have received to a revolving fund to support future students.
Additional program highlights in 2009-2010 include:
- The “Thrifty Stove” project continues providing ecological and health-promoting stoves in local rural communities. Families in the program participate in a four-part training session and also put a financial contribution toward their family’s stove, which has a total cost of approximately $212. The stoves are made from local materials and use much less wood to heat for cooking than the typical open fire cooking arrangements in most Guatemalan rural homes. Feedback from the first 50 or so families receiving stoves point to a reduction of firewood needed and healthier kitchens in general. In 2009 ACG installed 38 Thrifty Stoves; in 2010 they installed 15.
- A new course in traditional weaving was held August 31 – November 30, 2010, in the Copala La Esperanza community. An instructor worked with students learning how to improve their abilities to produce beautiful woven pieces for local use and sale at market. Another course of this type is scheduled in 2011 the Caracol in Uspatan community.
Global Ministries continues forward in solidarity with ACG and its work. Despite challenges of decreased external funding and the complicated Guatemalan economic and political context, ACG remains firm in its commitment to walk with those rural sectors of the Guatemalan people from which they, themselves, came. Rural communities that suffered decades of war and displacement continue in their search of restored and abundant life in their lands. ACG recognizes that women and young people are especially vulnerable in these situations, and that all must work hard to maintain their traditional culture and, at the same time, seek new paths toward future prosperity and justice.