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Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.

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Asociación Pop No´j

A grassroots organization working to support Maya Indigenous people and culture in Guatemala.
A group of youth and adults standing in a circle

Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala

Asociación Pop No´j (APN) works in Guatemala to promote and accompany organization, training, and participation processes of Maya Indigenous people, based on their worldview, identity, and rights. Among other priorities, APN works with Maya children who have been previously deported from the United States as they seek to reestablish their lives, defend their rights, and reintegrate into society. 

UUSC is partnering with Asociación Pop No’j in Guatemala to support Maya children and adolescents who have been deported from the United States reintegrate into their communities and rebuild their lives. Recent deportees struggle not only with the trauma of the harrowing journeys they have made, but also with repeated displacements both from their native communities and the places they sought protection. 

APN has been able to provide accompaniment for 28 household gardens, with UUSC’s support they continued providing consultation on small family gardens for the families accompanied. Practical activities were carried out demonstrating planting and harvesting of vegetables, medicinal plants, fruit trees, as well as integrating the production of mushrooms. With this, the families are feeding themselves; as they say, they do not need to buy anything in the market, they have enough vegetables and organic herbs to supply themselves.

Families have knowledge of organic farming, a methodology that helps take better advantage of natural resources, as well as helping in their care and conservation.

Working the land as a tool of resistance to keep the history and culture of the communities alive, to achieve buen vivir (good living). Since all family members are involved, this is also a space of interaction and strengthening of family ties, which contributes to the process of emotional health and good family relationships.

Pop No’j staff accompany Maya youth throughout their reintegration process, helping them reunite with relatives and paying regular home visits to attend to their health and wellbeing. Pop No’j also assists young people in finding economic opportunities and advocates with local governments to protect the rights and access to services of the recently returned.

Pop No’j is part of a larger web of organizations working for migrant justice in the region. They work with the Foundation for Justice and the Democratic Rule of Law, a UUSC partner in Mexico, to search for disappeared migrants or those whose rights are violated in transit. UUSC and Pop No’j also frequently join together to condemn the remilitarization of U.S. foreign policy in Central America and call for rights-based solutions to the ongoing refugee crisis.

Image Credit: Asociación Pop No´j