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Partnering for Stronger Outcomes Among Indigenous Language Speakers

Posted on Category Staff Spotlight, Stories

Our partner Solidaridad Guatemalteca is a community-based organization that works with the immigrant population of San Rafael, primarily in the Canal District. Its mission is to foster the empowerment of the community to develop skills that will help its members to find solutions to problems and to meet needs. Its work also fosters personal and collective growth for people who speak the indigenous languages of Central and Latin America.

Community Action Marin and Solidaridad Guatemalteca have initiated a collaboration in which the two organizations will work to elevate the voice of the community and to empower community members’ skills and talents to increase well-being. Yolanda Barahona, a family advocate on the Children and Family Services team at Community Action Marin (and an active member of Solidaridad Guatemalteca), is helping to lead work focused on three main areas:

  1. Rescue of art and culture.
  2. Social and Restorative Justice.
  3. Social and Economic Development.

Over the past 25 years, the Canal district went from being a place with almost no immigrants to having a population of almost 90% immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Over 79% of households speak a language other than English, and although there is no exact data, it is presumed that the largest percentage of the Canal’s Latino population is of indigenous ancestry whose primary language is of Mayan origin, with Mam, K’iche, K’chiquel, and Yucatec Mayan being the most prevalent.

When a community has suffered centuries of marginalization, the wisdom that its culture represents falls asleep and the richness of its diversity is denied to the world. When a community with so much knowledge and respect for its environment becomes invisible, to the point of almost disappearing from the world, the potential and well-being of humanity is limited. That the same community raises its voice, shows its culture, and uses its talents for the common good represents a triumph for the human race.

“These are the reasons why I personally get involved every day so that we can express ourselves freely, so that our talents collaborate in the development of a dignified life, with social justice and respect for all people,” said Yolanda Barahona, Family Advocate at the Old Gallinas Children’s Center. “I consider important the alliance between Solidaridad Guatemalteca and Community Action Marin to collaborate in the development of community empowerment that brings us closer to the fulfillment of this common dream.”

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