OUR HISTORY

Los Cimientos Alliance – LCA/USA is an all volunteer organization that was officially founded in 1996 after we had served informally for five years as human rights advocates and humanitarian resource for the Los Cimientos Maya K’iche community in Guatemala. LCA/USA volunteers accompanied the K’iche in their long journey for justice after they were violently attacked and driven from their legally owned land, first in1982 and again in 2001 (www.livezone.com/maya)  Our all-volunteer organization successfully provided humanitarian and advocacy support during their years of living as internal refugees. Due to our presence, there was a resolution of their case that was a litmus test of the U.N. Peace Accords of 1996.

In 2005 LCA/USA began K’aslem Mandala Environmental Education – Youth Leadership Program as a pilot project to address the needs of: (1) protecting the once pristine environment of Lake Atitlan, historically seen as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. It is being considered for a place on the list of Wonders of the World and provides important tourism generated resources. (2) providing opportunities, economic support and delinquency prevention activities for the young people of San Lucas Toliman and San Vicente de Los Cimientos.  K’aslem is a Mayan word for Life. Mandala is an internationally understood word for a Sacred Circle.     Together we are The Sacred Circle of Life.

K’aslem Mandala Program started with a small group of teenagers that self-selected their group, each bringing a friend or brother into the spontaneously forming program. In 2006 LCA began providing work-study stipends for 7 young men and a Youth Coordinator who guided them in educational activities that included learning about organic agricultural skills for home gardens, sustainable forestry management, PermaCulture, tree planting, personal literacy improvement, expanding income generating artistic abilities, increasing communication skills, taking part in community service and learning about compassionate animal care. Their most noteworthy activities of 2006 were making a Tree Census in an endangered Protected Biological Corridor, planting trees with youth groups in other Lake Atitlan villages and teaching Environmental Appreciation Classes.

2007 Accomplishments: In February of 2007 we initiated three independent activities under the K’aslem Mandala auspices. Each one has achieved success during 2007.

  • K’aslem Promoters, Work-Study Stipend Program: from field hands to Environmental Teachers: Learning how to care for their unique environment and sharing what they learn with their peers and in schools  ~ while earning a daily income that helps sustain their families.
  • Seeds of Harmony ~ Mothers and Daughters Environmental Arts: Learning unique art skills while delving into the subject of womens role in protecting their environment and their own personal safety through workshops in Domestic Violence Prevention and Conflict Resolution.
  • Roots and Shoots Environmental Youth Group: K’aslem Mandala is the first Guatemalan chapter of Dr. Jane Goodall’s International Youth Leadership program. We now sponsor 2 programs, a childrens program, ages 7 to 14 and one for young adults, ages 15 to 25. Each Roots and Shoots group is asking that their program be doubled and are committing their energy to community service projects to benefit the environment, the animals and the human community.

In 2009 The K’aslem Team of Environmental Promoters began teaching in Tzala School in Jucanya, Panajachel. They helped coordinate a Children’s Environmental March, engaging hundreds of children from around the Lake.  The Children were then invited to the National Palace in Guatemala City to present their Environmental Petitions. They are an inspired generation eager to help heal their environment.

2009 K’aslem Team started teaching their first Environmental Youth Groups for young people between the ages of 15 to 25. K’aslem Team designed and implimented a three month course of weekly topics that include evaluation and analysis of environmental conditions in their communities and hands-on activites in improve these conditions. As a result of these Youth Groups, the Team was invited to teach in the Santa Catarina Primary Schools. Once again, they designed a carefully considered course of studies that have been applauded by school principles and students alike. On May 29, 2010, their classes were interrupted by Tropical Storm Agatha.

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