El Árbol del Niño / Tejiendo Futuros
El Árbol del Niño is a holistic after-school program, enabling children to be conscious of themselves, of their surroundings, and of the environment so they can be actors of change and leaders in their communities.
JOBS & JOB TRAINING
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A message from Ingrid Villaseñor, Founder
“I am Ingrid Villaseñor, I am 45 years old, I am the mother of three wonderful children, and I live in the Guatemalan highlands of Panajachel, Solola.
My mother is from the highlands town of Santiago Atitlan, a beautiful town on the shore of lake Atitlan. It was there where I learned the traditions, livelihoods, and beliefs which run deep in my family’s Mayan heritage. But despite all its cultural richness and natural wealth, it is mirrored by poverty, inequality, and exclusion.
I grew up during the time of armed conflict in my country; a time full of the unknown, of uneasiness, and a time of terror and horror. My father was kidnapped when I was only 10 years old. Because I was so young, I didn’t understand what had happened to him. My mother never talked about him for fear that we would be kidnapped as well. I am the fruit of a valiant woman who was a fighter and a man who was a leader. My father gave up his life for his ideals and his country. Seeing the hunger and misery in many people teaches you to overcome all obstacles that may arise. It makes you want to live and fight for a better world.”
In Panajachel, Guatemala the education system is extremely poor. Schools are often made from tin or sticks, without libraries, and some without desks. Children take turns sitting at a table while the others stand. Ingrid saw how unmotivated and sometimes uneducated the teachers were. Ingrid decided to dedicate her life to creating a new model for education. Tejiendo Futuros allows space for each child to discover their passions and gifts while encouraging them to express their thoughts and emotions, to become leaders in their communities.
The program currently serves twelve children, who come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, but have all shown potential for leadership in their schools. They come to the center, which is a beautiful home in the center of Panajachel, and receive lunch, an afternoon snack, tutoring, and a holistic understanding of themselves and their community. Ingrid is truly creating a future generation of activists.
Ingrid’s dream is to create a successful program in Panajachel, and then to spread this model to other rural communities. She hopes to train people to teach them the program, so they could successfully incorporate it in communities all over Guatemala.
Ingrid has a big dream. Her years of experience working with the UN, her background in education and her deep passion for rebuilding communities that have been devastated by decades of civil war have led her to this moment. Now, she is ready to take Tejiendo Futuros to the next level. Her dream is to integrate an eco-tourism project that will draw income, investment and volunteers to the school and farm.
We are building to our 3-year goals through a combination of income-generating projects. Here's what we're developing right now.
During a teacher’s home visit, Ingrid was told of a family of eleven living off of about $53 monthly. Just to feed a family on that amount of money is impossible in Panajachel. Ingrid began to realize that this was a reality for many students and school is only a fraction of a student’s environment.
As a result, her first sustainability goal is to build an Eco-Farm where families cultivate their own food in their own gardens, to eat healthy, to unite with other families, to share and produce. The Eco-Farm will generate income for the school, provide income for the families and a space for trainings that will give the local people the skills they need to get good jobs in Guatemala – to stay and invest in their community, rather than be forced to travel far away for work.
Global Advocate Contributions
Since 2015, Global Advocates have helped Ingrid establish family gardens, teaching parents and their children how to cultivate their own food and eat healthy. Up next? Ingrid is scaling her program to integrate holistic education, an Eco Farm to provide jobs for parents, and Eco Tourism to provide a sustainable source of income. Can you offer skills to support them during this transformational time? Are you up for it? Click to learn more or apply today.