These initiatives strengthen complementary, or community-based, economic practices and cultural rights.
The relevance of historical economic systems of Mayan people has been largely ignored in recent efforts to remedy economic inequality.
Community-based, or complementary, economics --- as well as cultural and ancestral knowledge in areas of governance, justice, and health --- contribute to a system of balance and harmony between beings.
Indigenous communities are based on a system of complementary economics, which creates potential for 'el buen vivir.' In this program, Vida Digna seeks to resume the path by creating alliances and by bolstering autonomous economic initiatives.
Economic, Cultural, and Ancestral Initiatives
Danza del tiempo. Photo by Henning Sac.
In the Collective's work with young people and families, economic and business training is essential. For young women, limited economic opportunities are of great concern, as the most common jobs --- housekeeping and making tortillas --- do not offer socioeconomic advancement and are often degrading. Young men most often find work in African palm, sugar, and coffee plantations --- work that causes serious and lasting damage to their bodies. The
initiative Candelas Kame is one of the Collective's most recent efforts to defend these young people's collective and economic rights.
Candelas Kame is a distributor of products for Mayan spiritual practice in Guatemala. It supports producers of textiles, candles, and other materials used in Mayan ceremonies. The store sells high-quality products while maintaining fair prices. Candelas Kame is a place to learn about the Mayan ceremonies and the significance of the materials.
The production of candles. Photo by Vida Digna.
Cultural and Ancestral Initiatives
Vida Digna works together with midwives, indigenous councils and elders to support them in their projects and to promote their work. Additionally, these organized groups advise the Collective on how to incorporate their wisdom into educational activities with youth and families.
The Ix Kame project recognizes the strength of Mayan women affected by migration. It strengthens their capacities and creates a support circle that recognizes their culture and the importance of communication for family development. Special attention is given to sexual and reproductive education in order to promote healthy lives and to provide participants with the tools to detect and confront situations of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse and violence. Ix Kame consists of two modules:
Ix Kame participants. Photo by Vida Digna.
Ix Kame Q’apoj is a series of 16 weekly classes for Mam and K´iche women between the ages of 13 and 17 to develop interpersonal communication. These young women learn about their bodies, their relationships, and the lives of other women through oral history and tools that emphasize the use of multiple intelligences, including linguistics and intrapersonal communication.
Ix Kame Le Rapapem Re Ajq´apoj is a series of 16 classes with Mam and K’iche women from 17 to 23 years old on employment counseling and community-based entrepreneurship. They participate in skill-building workshops, learn professional development through site visits, and develop soft skills critical to securing employment.
Before joining Ix Kame, many of these women considered migrating to the U.S. because they didn't believe there were good opportunities in their communities. The young women participating in the group are affected by migration because they have a personal experience with migration, they have a family member, parent and/or sibling in the U.S.; or because they have in another way had close contact to the migration experience, i.e. they know at least one family with a migration debt; or a community member who has disappeared in the desert.