Kathy Mohr-Almeida, Ph.D.
Holistic Healing Arts
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Copal’aa La Esperanza


The Mayan community of Copal’aa La Esperanza, located in the heart of the Guatemalan jungle, is a place of hope and dreams. Two decades ago, this community was conceptualized by inspirited individuals who were in exile, escaping the horrors of the Guatemalan civil war.

Prior to the civil war, the Mayan people were cruelly exploited by powerful landowners and corporations in a system that was essentially slavery. The Maya would leave their forest homes for extended periods, make an arduous walk to costal farms, only to experience horrific and abusive living and working situations. Many people died from malnourishment and harsh, communal living conditions. The fiscal costs associated with working the farms left the Maya paltry profit to sustain their families. Tired of bondage, the people refused to continue to participate in this brutal institution. The Guatemalan government responded with military force, attempting to bully the Maya back into compliance and subjugation.

The Mayans were systematically victimized by state-sanctioned military policies of torture, rape and genocide. The consequences of systematic decimation of the Mayan people are ever-present in the minds and hearts of the community members of Copal’aa La Esperanza, and recovery is slow and painful. Most people in Copal’aa La Esperanza have personal experience with crimes against humanity. In additional to personal brutalization, survivors were often forced to watch and remain helpless as their families and friends were publically tortured and murdered. No family is untouched by these kinds of tragedies.  Left with little hope for survival in their homeland, many Mayans fled to southern Mexico, longing for the day when they could safely return home, rebuild their lives, and assure that their culture was not extinguished.  

Out of this tragedy sprang hope, and with it intentional community design, created by and for the Mayan people.

When the opportunity to return home finally presented itself, this community was granted land, where they are slowly rebuilding their lives and acting as ecological stewards to their home.

The land granted to the community of Copal’aa La Esperanza is nothing short of breath-taking. Cieba trees, which symbolically represent the structure of the universe in Mayan cosmology, are plentiful. The leaves on shorter plants are so humungous that they appear to harken directly from the Jurassic Period. Mountains and rivers are plentiful and clean, and the people are hopeful that they can establish a sustainable community for future generations.

In accordance with the sustainability principles of their intentional community design, the families in Copal’aa La Esperanza are utilizing solar energy, waste management strategies, a sustainable, river-irrigated fish farm and ecologically responsible farming techniques. To this end, they refuse to employ herbicides, pesticides, and slash and burn farming techniques, as they understand this to be disrespectful of La Tierra Madre, or Mother Earth. These projects and values are a part of the community written charter, which is reviewed and agreed upon at the onset of every town meeting.  Decisions and policies for the community are member-generated and consensus driven.

Also in alignment with the community values in Copal’aa La Esperanza is the reclamation and teaching of the traditional Mayan worldview. In order to accomplish the conservation and furtherance of their culture, the community must construct their own high school, which will also serve outlying communities, wherein curriculum based on the Mayan Cosmovision can be taught. The Guatemalan government continues to undermine indigenous self-determination through withholding funds for a desperately needed high school in Copal’aa La Esperanza.

Your financial support of sustainable community design, indigenous self-determination, and the preservation of an indigenous culture that survived calculated governmental attempts at extinguishment is important not only for the individuals in Copal’aa La Esperanza, but for humanity as a whole. The preservation of thoughts, beliefs, and practices is good for everyone, because it deepens the well from which we all can drink.

Won’t you help sustain diversity and hope? Please donate now!

http://ceiba-usa.org/







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