Tanhoc Project

Education Credits to Gain Legal Title of Land

In September 2006, Pueblo Partisans began community consultations in the indigenous community of Tanhoc, an agricultural co-operative in the departamento de Petén, northeastern Guatemala (map PDF).

These discussions carried the primary goal of understanding the community’s core strengths and potential areas of growth. Pueblo Partisans paid specific attention to women and youth during the consultation process. The discussions where conducted in Q’eqchi’, with the assistance of native speaker, community member and current Pueblo Partisans - Guatemala Rural Coordinator, Francisco Cuz. The consultations led to the creation of collaborative projects with the dual goals of increasing land security and educational achievement.

The indigenous people of Tanhoc requested that Pueblo Partisans assist them in developing a project that would allow them to gain full legal title to their land. These Mayans had previously owned land in the Alta Verapaz region of Central Guatemala (map PDF). However, the entire community was displaced during the 36-year Guatemalan Civil War (which began in 1960). Then, in 1979, the Cooperative of Tanhoc was established, but on land owned by the government. The residence of the new community therefore had to rent their land from the government. Members of the Tanhoc community (Tanhoqueños) wished to purchase the land, but first had to pay down a loan for it. They had little success until Pueblo Partisans and the community began their work together.

The goal of paying down the loan for this land, over the past six years, has now been accomplished.

To accomplish this, Pueblo Partisans combined the community’s need for land security with a desire from all sectors of the community to improve their educational opportunities. The project allowed for the capital-poor community of Tanhoc to earn land title for their agricultural co-operative through verifiable enhancement of residents’ level of education. This was carried out by establishing a school in Tanhoc.

Pueblo Partisans provided an education credit for each community member who successfully completed a grade level at the Tanhoc School, which is a Guatemalan Ministry of Education-approved institution. A credit was also earned for successfully completing a course in a self-defined program of Pueblo Partisans community development workshops.

Education credits, in turn, were applied to the annual installment of a renegotiated concessional Guatemalan Land Fund (FONTIERRAS) loan. Credits were weighted to favour female achievements in education, to offset the unique obstacles women encounter in trying to pursue their educational goals. By way of this project, Tanhoc residents were able to obtain clear land title on November 11, 2011, and have improved their skills in such areas as sustainable livelihood, literacy and health.

Tanhoc Reforestation Project

The Tanhoc Reforestation Project celebrates lives by planting trees.  

A tree has been planted in honour of Liesa Jean Werner, 1958-2012. Liesa was a jewler by trade. The things that brought her joy in life, and joy to those around her, were her love for what the world had to offer. She wasn’t  a city person, but rather she loved being in a rural area where she could have a beautiful garden, flowers, trees, vegetables, her animals and room to roam. She enjoyed hard physical work, loved going the extra mile to make things beautiful, and loved wandering the beaches looking for gem stones. She loved people, talking with them to understand their lives. She also loved music, and played the piano, guitar and cello. She was an avid reader and Scrabble player. Liesa was mother to three girls, grandmother to four boys, a wonderful daughter and sister.

The neem tree (arbol del neem; Azadirachta indica) planted in honor of Liesa Jean Werner.