One Equal Heart Foundation Programs
Donations support nonreligious programs administered by our Chiapas partners: the Jesuit Mission of Bachajón and the Center for Indigenous Rights. These organizations have lengthy experience working in the region, have built credibility with the Tseltal Maya, and employ long term strategies that are culturally and regionally relevant to the realities of Chiapas.
OEH is an independent, nonprofit run entirely by its governing Board and a team of volunteers, including professionals with experience and education in international development, finance, law, technology and communications, fundraising, grant writing and donor development. Our internship program offers students from Seattle University and University of Washington opportunities to volunteer on specific projects.
OEH provides regular opportunities to travel to Chiapas to experience firsthand the Tseltal Maya People, the challenges they face, and their work to build strong, sustainable communities. OEH organizes educational presentations and workshops for development practitioners, academics and members of the community on pertinent topics, including indigenous rights and autonomy, strategies behind endogenous development, and inculturated methodologies for developing local leaders.
The programs OEH supports emerge from Tseltal Maya communities; are implemented by Tseltal volunteer from those communities; and are administered by the bicultural and bilingual staff of the Jesuit Mission of Bachajón and its nonprofit affiliate, the Center for Indigenous Rights (CEDIAC). The Child Nutrition and Community Health Program identifies malnourished children and treats them with a locally-produced nutritional supplement; and provides community workshops for families to learn how to improve nutrition by growing kitchen gardens, incorporating more diverse foods into their diets, conserving foods for use year-round use, and utilizing medicinal herbs to cure common colds and ailments. The Caretakers of the Earth Program teaches families how to incorporate ecological features into their homesteads to improve the health of the family and the environment, including LORENA stoves (that use less firewood), composting latrines (that keep human waste out of rivers and groundwater), rainwater catchment and filtration systems (to provide safe sources of drinking water), kitchen gardens and small animal husbandry, worm composting, fishponds and beekeeping (to increase crop yields and provide additional sources of nutrition for families). OEH supports regular trainings and workshops for Tseltal leaders and work-study scholarships for committed Tseltal youth to provide a predictable source of educated and trained Tseltal leaders and professionals to carry out the work in the region.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
10 greenhouses installed in Tseltal communities test the feasibility of growing crops year-round to increase family food security and to generate crop surpluses sell in local markets to supplement family incomes. A demonstration farm tests the efficacy of growing corn--the staple of the Mayan diet--using several techniques under a variety of conditions; research results are compiled for presentation to communities. Volunteer community health promoters cultivate "living pharmacies" in remote villages and learn how to prepare and administer medicinal herbs to treat common illnesses, minor injuries, and chronic conditions. OEH sponsored two visits of staff members and Tseltal leaders from Chiapas who presented at the SU, UW, a local high school, and to several small groups about the challenges in Chiapas and the successes of the programs designed to address those challenges. Eduviges, a OEH Tseltal Maya Scholar, graduated with honors with a BA in Education. Edu currently works to develop bicultural, bilingual curriculum for the leadership training program. Petul, another Tseltal Maya Scholar, is over halfway toward his BA in Rural Development. Petul works with the Caretakers of the Earth Program. OEH seeks funds to be able to serve the long list of malnourished children who require treatment with nutritional supplements. OEH seeks funds to cover the costs of materials and trainings for the long list of families who are ready to build and install ecological features into their homes such as LORENA stoves, dry composting latrines and water filters.