Natik originally began as the International Humanitarian Foundation (IHF) in 2002. Founded by Amish Parashar, David Morse, Jesse Rocicki, and Kathleen Reeder, all students at either Dartmouth College or Harvard University, the IHF was incorporated in 2003 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
The founders, inspired by experiences in communities throughout the developing world, wanted to create a new type of international development organization: one that would tap the vast potential for reciprocal partnerships between students in the US and communities abroad. The IHF was thus originally formed around the model of university chapters, which began at Dartmouth in 2003 and Haverford College in 2004 and expanded to Brown University and Tufts University in 2007. Throughout those years, the chapters developed relationships with community organizations in Costa Rica, India, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, and Honduras and worked in fields such as health, technology, education, and micro-enterprise.
Beginning in 2010, the organization began to consider changing its structure to deepen its impact where it was needed most. As the result of extensive investigation, consideration, and debate, the IHF decided to focus on partner organizations in Chiapas, Mexico, and Santiago Atitlán, Gautemala. This shift replaced the university chapter model with a focus on working with partners towards specific development goals (Millennium Development Goals 1-3).
In 2012, the Board of Directors reached a decision to rename the IHF as Natik. Meaning “we sow” in Tzutujil Mayan and “our house” in Tzotzil and Ch’ol Mayan, our new name highlights our two primary areas of engagement (Guatemala and Chiapas), as well as our support for vibrant community-based organizations through transformative international relationships. The naming committee also agreed that the hummingbird would be a perfect symbol for Natik for its small size, responsiveness, and incessant energy and determination.
Natik has grown in many ways and has learned many important lessons since the founding of the first chapter in 2003, but one thing has remained the same: Natik is committed to needs-driven, sustainable development solutions that maximize the potential for reciprocal relationships between students and professionals in the US and their dedicated counterparts in communities in Chiapas and Guatemala. Natik’s direct approach to challenges, flexibility in trying new strategies, and willingness to change keep us light-hearted, invigorated, and constantly moving forward.