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Cruisers tour Ak' Tenamit PDF Print

Visiting the Fair Trade store
Visiting the Fair Trade store
Story by Jimmy Peters – s/v Bluewater Cat
Photos by Jimmy Peters and Sharon Del Bianco - s/v Sunbow

A group of 15 cruisers took a tour of Ak' Tenamit on Thursday July 15, 2010. The tour was organized by Joan from “MV Panchita”. A launcha from Ak' Tenamit picked us up at Mario’s Marina at 8:30 am and took us down river to the Ak' Tenamit school and medical facility.

We were all favorably impressed with the school and health facility. The school has 498 students. Tuition is 50Q/month and if that is too much for the family to pay they can provide maize or labor instead of the 50Q.

Two doctors, a nurse and a health promoter gave us a tour of the medical facility which included an area where they stored medications. Medical teams sometimes hike over 10 miles to remote villages to provide medical care.

Hand decorated bowls
Hand decorated bowls

We continued downstream in the launcha to Rio Tatin where we visited a Fair Trade store that sold handicrafts. Those that finished shopping early purchased soft drinks at a small restaurant.

Both the Fair Trade Store and restaurant were run by Ak’ Tenamit students learning to run a business. We then walked up to tour the school, a new library and farm. When we visited the school the students were learning in groups and the teachers were supporting the group studies. I noticed one group studying mathematics. We were told the school teaches the students how to run a small business such as a tienda or restaurant, a tourism business or a farm.

School and health facility
School and health facility

For lunch we went to “Buga Mama’s” in Livingston which is also run by Ak' Tenamit students. We had a delicious lunch of either red snapper or beef with some side dishes and cold drinks. We returned to Mario’s just in time for 4 pm volleyball.

Ak' Tenamit means “New Village” in the Q’eqchi Mayan language, because the organization is transforming life in the Q’eqchi villages. Ak’Tenamit is a Guatemalan indigeneous owned and operated nonprofit association based in the rainforest that works with dozens of remote Maya villages, all of which lack electricity and running water.

Ak’ Tenamit was founded in 1992 by Steve Dudenhoefer and two English volunteers and village leaders and is run by an all-indigenous board that is elected by the communities the organization serves.


-- Ak’ Tenamit provides basic healthcare to approximately 6,000 people in 35 Q’eqchi Maya villages.

-- Ak’ Tenamit gives approximately 500 students a practical, vocational education at the Fr. Tom Moran Center, a jungle boarding school campus, where the national curriculum has been adapted to the students’ indigenous culture and rural reality.

-- Ak’ Tenamit catalyzes grass-roots development and helps village handicraft cooperatives to sell their wares at fair-trade prices, which provides vital income for extremely poor families.


-- Ak’ Tenamit promotes gender equity, cultural pride, community solutions, environmental sustainability and the empowerment of youth. The association and its programs are run by and for the Q’eqchi Maya people.

Ak' Tenamit
Ak' Tenamit

-- Educating girls, empowering women and promoting gender equity are priorities.

-- Students gain valuable skills and job experience by working at the school’s farm, handicraft shops and restaurants.

-- Local people and students provide much of the labor that Ak’ Tenamit needs. The medical program relies on village health promoters.

International volunteers provide specialized skills.

The cruisers who visited Ak’ Tenamit were favorably impressed with the organization and will work with Ak’ Tenamit on a fund raising activity to be held later this year.

Rio Dulce cruisers
Rio Dulce cruisers

Attending were:
Panchita                       Joan
Bluewater Cat                Donna and Jimmy
Niki Wiki                       Terry
Sunbow                         Sharon and John
Chrisandaver (CD)         Chris and Dave
Footloose                      Doris and Tim
Mystic Moon                  Kathy
Equinox                         Betsy
Patience                        Ellen
Changing Spots              Annie
Lone Star                       Chris 

More information on Ak’Tenamit is available Here.

Map of villages routinely visited by medical staff
Map of villages routinely visited by medical staff


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