Our Team

Vida Digna enlists an interdisciplinary approach-- including social work, community-based economics, and socio-cultural studies-- to build the capacity of indigenous youth and their families in the Highlands of Guatemala.

Photo by Henning Sac.

Carlos Escalante Villagrán, MSc

Coordinator, Cultural Observatory


Carlos directs the Collective's advocacy initiatives on the underlying causes of Mayan migration. He consults on immigration cases in the U.S. (asylum, SIJS, and others) and supports the families of young returned migrants in the areas of employment and financial management. He also counsels Mayan spiritual guides.


Carlos is Maya K´iche, a cultural researcher and Mayan spiritual guide. He has a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala; a Masters in Rural Economics from the University of Lisboa, Portugal; and a Masters in Management for Sustainable Development from the Instituto Chi Pixab’ -- Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain. Among his many achievements, Carlos has worked extensively in international trade and marketing of Mayan clothing with widows of Guatemala's armed  conflict.

He is author of the book Cosmovision and Spirituality: Meditations and reflections on Mayan Thought (Cosmovisión y Espiritualidad: Meditaciones y reflexiones del pensamiento Maya, Silabario Ediciones, 2016). He served as the research coordinator for the study: Cultural Politics Manual: Cultural Diversity, Collective Human Rights, and Territorial Construction in "Post"-War Era (Manual de Políticas Culturales: Diversidad cultural, derechos humanos colectivos y construcción territorial en tiempos de "post" guerra, Editorial Cholsamaj, 2010).

Photo by Henning Sac.

Anna Aziza Grewe, MSW

Coordinator, Youth and Migration

Anna supervises international postgraduate interns, coordinates educational programs for young women affected by migration, and works with the families of young unaccompanied migrants returned to Guatemala.      


She is Pakistani-German and is originally from New York. She is a popular educator, social worker and traditional midwife. She holds a Bachelors in Education from The New School for Social Research/Eugene Lang College and a Masters in Social Work from the Columbia University School of Social Work. She completed her studies with the Department Coordinator of Traditional Midwives from the Western Region of Guatemala and is an accredited midwife.

Her experience includes work with local and international organizations in program development, specifically the design and implementation of cultural empowerment programs and initiatives that seek to deconstruct racism and entrenched colonial processes. Her areas of expertise span sexual rights, traditional medicine, and pregnancy education.

Photo by Henning Sac.

Wagner Ely López Huinil

Principal Researcher

Ely directs the Collective's research and coordinates the family reunification of young returned migrants. He has presented in various academic, professional, and community venues in Guatemala and the U.S. on the realities confronting returned migrants and the needs of indigenous communities.

Born in Cajolá, Quetzaltenango, Ely is Maya Mam. He is also an educator, artist, Mayan spiritual guide, radio broadcaster, and community organizer. He is completing his thesis in Anthropology at the University of San Carlos of Guatemala. Ely seeks to strengthen autonomous indigenous legal, health and educational systems and ancestral knowledge, with an emphasis on the relationship between identity, territory, land, and migration.  

He is author and illustrator of the Mama children's book The Creation of the World and the Nawales (Tb'inchajil Twitz Tx'otx', Editorial Maya Wuj, 2014). 

Photo by Henning Sac.

Henning Gregorio Sac Morales

Community-based Economic Programs

Henning coordinates and designs Candelas Kame, an economic initiative that seeks to support young migrants, their families, and their communities through the production and distribution of textiles and ceremonial materials. He also serves as Vida Digna's photographer.

He is Maya K’iche from Quetzaltenango, a documentary photographer, social researcher and merchant. He holds a Bachelor in Civil Engineering from the University of San Carlos of Guatemala.  Currently, he is a graduate student in Social Anthropology at the University of San Carlos in Quetzaltenango. At Vida Digna, Henning brings together his business experience in southwestern Guatemala and photography to document the impacts of international development on indigenous communities. 

Henning's research focuses on the ancestral practices of indigenous peoples, with a specific interest in the semiotics of Mayan textiles and cosmovision.

Our Board of Directors

Photo by Henning Sac.

The Board of Directors --- also known as the Youth Advisory Council --- is comprised of Mam and K'iche community members and young people, all of whom are engaged in community outreach and have personal experiences with migration. 

The Board actively supports Vida Digna's programming. Under the direction of President Ramona Johana López Aguilón, board members coordinate student groups, international exchanges, and workshops for returned migrant youth. They supervise the cultural content of Ix Kame and other educational initiatives. They also serve as translators and interpreters in Mam, K'iche, and Spanish in immigration cases.

Ramona Johana López Aguilón


Luis Pedro Reyes Escalante

Vice President

Juan Vinicio Ortiz Chete


Maria García Maldonado


Judiel López Cabrera


Juan Edwin Pacay Mendoza


Henning Gregorio Sac Morales


Ana-Isabel Guisela Braconnier De Léon


© 2017 by Asociación Colectivo Vida Digna.

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