The main purpose of this project is to create access to Guatemalan textbooks for the Q'eqchi Mayan youth studying in Seacacar, one of a dozen villages in the Rio Sauce watershed. All live without electricity or running water and survive by hunting, fishing and gardening. With fewer trees and animals in the forest and fewer fish in the river, survival is increasingly difficult. Citizens know that without education they cannot save their ancestral home.
Residents also recognize the need for local economic development if their children are to remain in the area. These Q'eqchi Mayans have already done much to reverse the deforestation in the Rio Sauce watershed. They recently planted 10,000 tropical saplings and plan to reintroduce the scarlet macaw and the river otter as they move forward. A recently built lodge offers accommodations to eco-tourists and environmentalists. Nature paths attract bird-watchers and hikers. With publicity on television and on the internet the Reserva Natural Canon Seacacar has become a destination for tourists and a source of income for its citizens.
In 2018 with the help of a $500 mini-Grant from Rotary eClub of the Southwest USA (RECSWUSA), the From Books to Brilliance Foundation (FBTB), a New Mexico based 501(c)(3), donated a total of 240 textbooks, 20 each for language arts, math, science, and social studies for grades 7, 8, and 9. With 40 students in each class, texts are currently shared. Because several of Seacacar's neighboring villages are now sending their children to study in Seacacar, next year's enrollment has doubled. More textbooks and ancillary school supplies are needed. This grant will allow RECSWUSA to work in partnership with FBTB to provide those additional Guatemalan-approved texts. Any remaining monies will be used to purchase needed ancillary supplies for classroom use. In the fall of this year, RECSWUSA members Kim Covill and Debbie Gonzales (also volunteers with FBTB) will coordinate with Seacacar school personnel to purchase and deliver these resources to the village.
Upon graduation from the middle school, students can continue their studies at the nearby Asociacion Ak'Tenamit. This internationally renowned development project, founded by Rotarian Steve Dudenhoefer, teaches and promotes sustainable entrepreneurship for rural youth while also strengthening their cultural identity. Many of Seacacar's students expect to study sustainable tourism, hotel/restaurant management and environment sciences, which would enable them to create businesses and thrive in their own village.