Our projects are focused on the two communities of San Juan and San Pablo La Laguna which are situated along the shores of Lake Atitlan in the highlands of western Guatemala. The two villages and surrounding areas have a total population of approximatley 20,000 people. Almost the entire population of these two villages are indigenous Maya. Although situated less than 3 miles apart, the two towns have very distinct cultures.

A view of San Juan overlooking Lake Atitlan

Many people in these villages suffer from extreme poverty. Some 97% of the population in San Pablo and 76% in San Juan are considered to suffer from poverty. In terms of extreme poverty, the rate is 79% in San Pablo and 29% in San Juan. The main economic opportunities in these two communities are in agriculture, such as the harvesting of coffee and other crops. San Juan has many artisans including weavers and painters which bring some tourism, while in contrast San Pablo has virtually no tourism.

The main Catholic church in San Pablo

Religious procession in San Juan

Guatemala has the 4th highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world for children 5 years and younger. Access to quality healthcare services in the communities is extremely limited. Each community does have a government health center, but these centers lack sufficient staff, resources and medications to be able to treat even the most common illnesses. Private healthcare is very expensive and therefore out of reach for most in the community. The two most common causes of death in Guatemala are acute respiratory infections and intestinal parasites, both of which can be easily treated with adequate detection and resources.

ODIM aims to improve the quality of life of members of these communities through our health services and educational programs. We focus on empowering members of the community and our vision is for the Maya to have a hopeful future for themselves and their children.