Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Taq Sanik (The Little Ants) Invite Mayan Families

A local reforestation group invited Mayan Families to the inauguration of their most recent project. They call themselves Taq Sanik, which means The Little Ants, in the local Kaqchiquel language.

These local nature-lovers collaborated with a group of 13 graduating high schoolers doing their internship-community service project. Together they acquired 1500 seedlings and planted over 300 pine and native cypress on a particularly erosion-prone mountain, as well as along the lake's edge.

With fresh memories of the trauma of mudslides, this project has such poignant relevance for the whole Panajachel community right now. But it has been a long-term commitment of these Mayan naturalists.

Taq Sanik, is an astoundingly understated group. They have been working together on the land that is not theirs on the dry side of the mountain in Panajachel for over 10 years.

They told their story of sacrificing time and their own money. They told of repeatedly failing, and learning from their failures, as they watched their first plantings from over 10 years ago die again and again before they set up an irrigation system to keep the trees alive with the "living fluid" of water, as they called it, throughout the dry season.

In the beginning they carried the water up the mountain on their own backs to care for the trees. Now they have an irrigation system, recycling water from runoff from the onion and corn fields above.

With the volunteer efforts of the ICI (the Institute of Computers and Information) high schoolers, they installed a new water well so the many trees they planted have a chance of surviving once the rainy season ends.

The high school students are hoping to graduate from a weekend program with their high school degree in Computers or Accounting from ICI. Of the 13 graduates this year, 9 men and 4 young women, over a third were parents, and every single one was working at least one or two jobs to be able to afford school.

The high school students chose to work with Taq Sanik for their required community service project in order to graduate. Many have delayed their education because they could not afford it, and were joined by their spouses, children, and grandparents to celebrate.

The local group, Taq Sanik is what makes this community service project a little different from the common tree plantings that often get abandoned and forgotten as the students go on their way.

Taq Sanik, will follow up with continual care, as they regularly check on and water the trees. They meet most Sundays, since some members have jobs and commitments in the week.

The group is fundraising for materials to make permanent signs to make the reforestated areas well-defined. They have learned from experience that they need to make their private work more public. Many of the trees they planted were chopped down as firewood by people who didn't understand what they were doing.

They are selling T-Shirts with their own screenprinting and designs to help pay for the expenses of continuing their work.

Thanks to Taq Sanik and the High Schoolers for inviting us to celebrate with them, the beautiful values and resourcefulness of the Mayan people.

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