The mission of the organization is to help the impoverished community of Chocol plan for and achieve prosperity based on balanced development principles that protect cultural tradition, the natural environment and preserve the Mayan and post-colonial history of the town. Further, while doing so, we are creating a model of an integrated ground-up approach to rural development that can be replicated and scaled up throughout Guartemala
Four operating principles guide our work:
* We provide information and technical training to the people of Chocol to help them evaluate new opportunities, plan and acquire the skills they need to succeed.
* We provide direct funding, training and other forms of support for community requests for assistance on specific projects. These requests must come through Chocol leadership and must demonstrate sustainability and a willingness and capability of the community to provide part of the needed resources. All programs must aim at achieving self-sufficiency.
* We help connect the community to government or other NGO agency programs that may be of value to the community, provided that such programs also meet the tests as is noted above as regards community participation and sustainability. .
* All requests must be consistent with our mission to help the people and do no harm to either the Maya archaeological site or to the 1890 Coffee Finca site.
Seeds for a Future was registered as a US 501c3 in early 2007
and has been working with the people of Chocola, Suchitepquez, Guatemala since then to
develop and implement an integrated, community-based model program for rural economic and
human development. Chocola is an agricultural community of approximately 1500 indigenous
families which live primarily by agriculture, primarily coffee. Based on needs and interests
identified by the community, the integrated program focuses: on Food Security and Nutrition via
family gardens and raising small animals for protein; Education, via development of a Community
Learning Center; Improved Agricultural Income through better techniques, agroforestry and crop
diversification; and Leadership/Democracy training via practical application embedded in all other
Seeds activities. For example, the Asociacion Huertas Familiares is an organization of Family
Garden participants with elected officers, including a treasurer, which purchases shared supplies,
schedules group activities and training, etc. Seeds’ programs are designed to provide families,
and especially women and youth, with practical skills to improve their nutrition, health, income
and education. Seeds provides funding and staff for technical training, certain supplies, day-today
coaching, and leadership training. The Family Garden Association has grown from eight
participating families in 2010 to 28 in 2011 and now stands at 50 families. Under our current
budget, our goal for the 2012 - 2013 period is 75 to 80 families recruited through community
outreach efforts and actively involved in the training program. It should also be understood that
as some families have already "graduated" from the program and continue with home gardens on
their own, so we estimate that roughly 60 families have been impacted to date by the program
either as current members or past members who continue their gardens. Petitions to grow the
organization are pending from another 45 families in Chocola and adjacent communities who
have seen the success of this program in improving nutrition, food supplies and saving families
money that they would otherwise be forced to spend in the market. Some women in the
program have already begun to teach extended family and neighbours in the community. The
success of this "bottom up" strategy has drawn the attention of the USDA, the University del Valle
and the Institution for Nutrition for Central America and Panama, with which we have
collaborated on best practices and methods.