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Team Quetzal Project Story

Give to the Team Quetzal ProjectIn the upper part of the Cahabon River basin, an area in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala indigenous Q’eqchies live on the edge of the beautiful and fragile cloud forests that stretch along the river and up into the mountains above. These forests are home to 18 species of endemic birds with limited ranges. The forests are also home to the beautiful and mythic Resplendent Quetzal. The national bird of Guatemala, the Quetzal was taken by the Mayans and Aztecs to represent goodness and light.

But for all of the uniqueness and natural beauty of the place, the Q´eqchi’ Maya who live in the Cahabon basin are plagued with poverty and hunger. Unemployment, underemployment, illiteracy, and lack of access to clean drinking—all of these problems are daily concerns for the people of the area. With a rapid rate of deforestation, many of these problems are likely to get worse as the deforestation destroys the drinking water supply of over 10,000 people in the basin.

Heifer is working to change these conditions by providing an alternative to slash and burn agriculture, deforestation, and poverty. We are working to preserve and increase biodiversity at the same time we are increasing incomes for the families living in the Cahabon basin.

This project will distribute 180 rabbits, 252 turkeys and 3600 earthworms to 200 families (600 more families will benefit from Passing on the Gift®). These families will also plant 24,000 fruit trees that will serve as a source of both food and income. In addition to training in livestock care, families will also receive training in ecology so that they can gain a better understanding of the rich environment that surrounds them

With greater knowledge of the local ecosystem, Heifer hopes that there will be a greater respect for natural resources by the local people. But more than just respect, this ecological understanding will translate into work for many people of the region. Select young people from families participating in the project will receive special training to monitor bird populations in the neighboring cloud forests. The data they collect will open a window on the status of many threatened and endangered species that live in the area, providing important information for biologists and much needed work for the young people.