Chiapas, At the Bottom of Mexico


Take a look at this article.

Recently, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) analyzed the living conditions in Mexico. Their results show that districts are economically polarized, and Chiapas, the home of Natik’s programs in Mexico, is dead south.

Looking at indicators like health care, social mobility, and education, some regions of Mexico, like the Federal District, prove to have good educational and healthcare systems. These regions are comparable to industrialized countries like Egypt or Australia.

Others, however, do not rank so highly. Chiapas is worst of all, ranking absolutely last in social mobility and education. It has the same standard of living as underdeveloped countries in West Africa, like Gabon, where the average resident lives on less than a dollar a day.

Such disparities within countries, sadly, are common and caused by the same exploitation and segregation that has attenuated the third-world. Likewise in Chiapas, many communities have not been able to integrate due to geographic, cultural, and linguistic barriers. Just as communities in Gabon, communities in Chiapas have been marginalized and sapped of their fiscal resources. Residents suffer poor health care, incomplete educational systems, and economic immobility as a result.

This is a dark story, with harsh statistics. But while the report deals with a grim subject, there is hope. By examining the trends in economic development in Chiapas and in similar regions of the world, the UNDP has projected that Chiapas can rival the Federal District economically by 2054.

While in some respects this date is too far away, the timeline is fascinating and, I think, uplifting. It projects that the same children that are in school now (in places like Yo’onik) will be the champions of change. It hints that the work that we–Natik staff, funders, and volunteers–are doing will be the work that begins to de-marginalize the communities of Chiapas. It anticipates economic solvency as an attainable future.

Thus, this study is affirming. It vests the crisis in Chiapas with statistics and understandable comparisons, but, more, it says the crisis is not interminable. With the efforts of the ambitious generation now in school, supported by whoever is willing to shake their hands across the margins, things can change.

Puerta Abierta: Tierra of the Eternal Spring

Amanda FlayerAmanda Flayer is the Co-Founder and Director of La Puerta Abierta Children’s Learning Center and Library in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. La Puerta Abierta was established in 2006 and is the first free child-focused learning center in Santiago.

Below are pictures from a recent day of fun Puerta Abierta held for their students before breaking for “Semana Santa” and a week off of classes.

It’s good to be in spring!


  • Tradition. La Puerta Abierta has been evolving for nearly a decade as have our annual rituals. The last day of school prior to Semana Santa at La Puerta Abierta marks our spring celebration.
  • We rejoice in sunshine.
  • We honor nature...
  • and water!
  • We share with friends and family.
  • Happy spring!


To read more about Puerta Abierta and see more pictures, visit their blog.

Notes from the Students: Flor

image00 Flor de María Quiejú Tziná is one of three scholarship students receiving university-level education. She has a bent for creativity, and she gives back by helping younger students explore their own creativity at a local school. For today’s blog, she explains how the university has allowed her to extend her creativity to different media.  

I study at the Indigenous Institute of Our Lady of Mercy in San Andrés Semetabaj, Solola. There are a total of 37 students in my grade.


At the institute I have learned to prepare national and international cuisine. In particular, I enjoyed that each of us could be creative with our plates’ presentation. We made pastries, breads, pizza, and desserts, and we even prepared for special events like quince años (sweet-sixteens), weddings, and each other’s graduations.

image04We also enjoy after school sports and field trips at the institute, where we can relax a little and have fun.

In one course, a dressmaking course, we were able to create different dresses. One of them was a dress for our quince años, and we each altered them into different types and styles. When we finished, we got to model them in front of the whole school.

image01We chose a name for our dress and when we each walked out, they announced the name of the dress and the designer. Mine was called “La Maravilla” (“Wonder”).

The night we modeled our dresses we also danced a waltz, which for me this was especially spectacular because there had been no celebration for my quince años.