Voces y Manos believes that education is a powerful means of achieving sustainable development, health, and self-determination for indigenous communities.

At the heart of our program is the belief that education empowers young people to give back to their communities in meaningful ways. Our vision is that youth who graduate from Voces y Manos will better the health and social conditions of their communities and broader society.

Voces y Manos empowers indigenous youth to advance the health and wellbeing of their communities by promoting leadership and providing academic scholarships. Through Voces y Manos’ leadership program, students learn how to implement community projects that, for example, improve child nutrition, combat deforestation, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Students who participate in our leadership program are eligible to receive scholarships, enabling them to further their education and gain jobs where they can advance the health and sustainable development of their communities. In addition, Voces y Manos provides a small number of university scholarships each year. Providing youth with opportunities to engage in social action while pursuing higher education empowers them to become lifelong agents of social change.

Mission

Voces y Manos’ mission is to empower indigenous youth to advance the health and well-being of their communities.

Vision

We envision a just world in which all people can live in good health, allowing them to reach their highest potential.

Health will no longer be deteriorated by poverty and exploitation, but rather promoted through social justice. In the world we envision, individuals are empowered to improve their communities and the environment, transforming cycles of disease into health, violence into peace, oppression into liberation.

Values

We believe that the daily operations of our organization and the interactions of its members and the communities with which we engage should embody the values of this document, as we believe that practicing these values is essential to creating a world that reflects them. We believe healing ourselves, our community, and inequities in our societies are all integrally connected.

Embracing a shared struggle with the communities we serve

Being accountable to one another

Acknowledging power, embracing difference & walking together

Practicing humility

Supporting the human rights to clean water, healthy food, a healthy ecology, high quality health care, and culturally sustaining education

Supporting the human rights to clean water, healthy food, a healthy ecology, high quality health care, and culturally sustaining education

Centering the most marginalized In the context where we work: women and gender non-confirming people, indigenous people, and those living in poverty

Moving at the speed of trust

Striving to unite means and ends

Building on community leadership

Engaging in ongoing reflection and action

Remaining open to change

About Rabinal

“Let the history we lived be taught in the schools, so that it is never forgotten, so that our children may know it.”

- Testimony given to the Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification

Located in the central Guatemalan Highlands, Rabinal is a predominantly rural municipality of approximately 35,000 residents, 80% of whom are members of the Maya-Achí indigenous group. While the small urban area in the center of Rabinal is home to both indigenous people and Ladinos (individuals of mixed indigenous and European descent), Rabinal’s surrounding rural villages are almost entirely comprised of Maya-Achí. The Maya-Achí continue to speak their language, and practice their cultural traditions. One of these is the theatrical dance known as the “Rabinal Achí”, preserved without modification from before the Spanish conquest, which was declared a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.

In addition to its cultural renown, Rabinal also received international attention due to its prominent role in the Commission for Historical Clarification’s “Memory of Silence” report, a UN-commissioned investigation into human rights violations committed during the Guatemalan civil war (1960 – 96). This report revealed the full extent of genocide carried out against Maya communities. The surviving Maya-Achí community continues to grapple with this long standing trauma.

Since then, civil society and non-governmental agencies like Voces y Manos’ partner organization Fundación Nueva Esperanza (FNE) have worked to promote equality, human rights, and cultural survival for the Maya-Achí community. Founded by survivors of the genocide, FNE operates a middle school that provides bilingual education (Spanish and Maya-Achí) to children of rural families. Through education, FNE seeks to create a more just society. Voces y Manos complements their efforts by providing intensive leadership training and high school scholarships to 10-12 FNE graduates each year. Jointly, FNE and Voces y Manos aim to empower future Maya-Achí leaders who will affect social change over the span of their lives.