Mission of the organisation
ATZIN DESARROLLO COMUNITARIO Tlamacazapa, Mexico www.atzin.org MISSION: Atzin is a non-profit humanitarian organization registered in Mexico, with a charitable sister association in Canada. Atzin assists rural people, particularly indigenous women, to attain better life opportunities, stronger cultural wellbeing, and greater self-sufficiency with more peaceful governance. In 1997, Atzin was formed to counter this cycle of poverty and violence in Tlamacazapa. Atzin means "sacred water" in the local language, Nahuatl. Its humanitarian development programs emerged gradually in response to community needs and now focus on four integrated sectors: health and healing, income generation, education, and environment, water and sanitation. PROGRAMS Health and Healing Programs include a special needs program, a dental and oral health program, and supports local midwives in safe motherhood services. Income Generation Programs provide technical support for small business development, such as a weavers' cooperative, a sewing workshop, and a small store run by local women. Community Education and Literacy Program integrates local responsibility with continuous learning. The programs include intensive training schools for young women, an open-air education program for out-of-school children; tutoring for those in school who require assistance; literacy classes for women and youth, and an early childhood stimulation program for children aged 1-5 years old. Environment, Water and Sanitation Program introduces an ecological rocket stoves to families. For more than a decade constructed household dry toilets and rainwater harvest tanks, monitored water quality and investigated toxicity from multiple sources and its effects on people. MISSION AND PHILOSOPHY Through these programs, Atzin provides an external presence that is stimulating personal and social change in rhythm with the people of Tlamacazapa. Its goal is to assist villagers to reclaim their cultural identity and strength of personal worth. Working in Tlamacazapa over the past years, the Atzin team gradually pieced together a big puzzle of a complicated village situation. At the beginning, it was easy to see the living conditions of severe economic poverty. It took time, listening, many questions and a digging for data, to realize the critical environmental problems and importantly, the suffering caused by a collective poverty of spirit. A poverty of spirit means that people can't imagine that tomorrow will be any different than today or yesterday. The Nahuatl word, Tlamacazapa, translates as "people who are fearful" and is a cultural reflection of their history. The original inhabitants ran to escape the Spanish invaders more than 500 years ago, settling on a rocky, infertile mountain slope where they found water. An attitude of fearfulness has continued over the centuries, and now is coupled with other negative feelings of insecurity, victimization and rigidity. People tend to be distrustful, jealous of their neighbours and are not able to work together as a community. Hopelessness often prevails, with most impoverished families having little vision for a better future. Bring enough resources to bear on a situation and environmental degradation and economic poverty can be solved if people can work together with a common purpose. But a poverty of spirit crushes this possibility from the start. That's why Atzin focuses on bringing people together to support one another. Whether it's a group of women sewing quilts, preparing food for the school breakfast program, or discussing problems faced by young families, Atzin's approach is people-centered. The task is to create opportunities on many fronts. Individuals learn to trust over time as they share and discuss, help each other, and seek solutions step by step together. Our annual ten day training retreat for young village women is a dramatic example of community building. The training is highly participatory as well as challenging, allowing the women to form friendships, greater insights and a sense of common-unity. This is vital foundational "glue." These women all carry program responsibilities as "promoters" and in turn, influence others in a positive rippling effect. Let us consider the heart of the puzzle: a sense of empowerment always starts with a spark of possibility and grows from within. No one can actually empower someone else or hand them a richer spirit or life. The nurturing of that inner spark is the real work of development. Atzin is about people everywhere working together, patiently, energetically and lovingly, to re-humanize our world. It's about committed individuals making a world of difference.