The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action( A non profit organization very dear and near to Edward James Olmos) contributes to the elimination of poverty and the restoration of the damaged environment by promoting cooperative enterprise, environmentally sound agriculture, appropriate technology and conservation. We work in the Sierra Madre region of Chiapas, Mexico and with repatriated refugee communities in Guatemala. We collaborate with others to bring the message of respect for all life into policy discussions. Through our internship program we train others to do this work elsewhere.
The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action serves impoverished communities in Chiapas and Guatemala where a change of vision and technical assistance can help them create a better life. Since 1997 we have assisted people to create success with cooperative businesses, grow healthful food, improve neglected schools for their children, regain cultural pride, protect the watershed, create eco-villages and heal from the trauma of disaster and war. We advocate internationally for the respect of indigenous human rights and environmental and economic justice. We hope to inspire others to exercise their own compassion be they our supporters, volunteers or interns. We work in one corner of the world in a way we hope ripples out beyond.
According to the Mayan calendar, the world is entering the Sixth Sun, El Sexto Sol, the time of Justice and of the emancipation of indigenous peoples. We promote the ethic of "community action" whereby community members work together to solve common problems and to reach common goals. Edward James Olmos had been a friend of the non-profit Sexto Sol Center since 1997.
On a planet with abundant life, water and resources, poverty should be viewed by everyone as an aberration. But we have yet to figure out how to live in a way that affords every member of the human family with the necessities for a healthful life. Therefore most people accept the existence of poverty, of the loss of 35,000 children to starvation every day, as "unavoidable."
Sustainable Livelihoods Program: In a region with few opportunities to earn a living, Sexto Sol helps grassroots organizations to sell their products internationally. We work with emerging cooperatives and associations since collective effort builds social support among members, forms leaders and encourages people taking ownership of the development of their community.
We help groups learn what they need to independently managing of their own business. Sexto Sol facilitates partnerships between the cooperative and companies interested in importing their products. For cooperatives of coffee growers this means helping them to export to buyers in the Specialty Coffee market who pay more for fair trade and organic coffee. (Help Sexto Sol by buying Higher Grounds Coffee, see bottom of this page.) Environmental Justice: Empowering indigenous people to defend their rights, the health of their communities and their territories. Recycling, Upcycling: Tons of plastic trash washes into the Canyon de Sumidero each year. Sexto Sol is working to give this refuse a second life by tranforming it into saleable household items that can be produced by people working from their homes. Eco-village/Permaculture: Building on the sucess of helping Nuevo Bullaj cooperative export their Fair Trade coffee, we are helping these repatriated refugees in Gautemala to create an Eco-hotel and guiding them to trasform their community into an eco-village. Helping people heal from the trauma of war and disaster: As a response to Hurricane Stan, Sexto Sol sponsored training for 50 local doctors and healers in a unique technique to heal Post Traumatic Stress for the large numbers of people affected by the tragedy. Mr. Olmos and his fans provided significant support to make this possible. This work is evolving as we continue to help
people cope with traumatic life events. Improving the Quality of Education for Indigenous Children. Education is an essential tool for constructing a way out of poverty. Ideally communities should be involved in assuring the quality of education for their children as part of the process of regaining self-determination. However, the schools serving indigenous children in the Sierra are terribly neglected and teachers must work with very inadequate facilities and materials. Sexto Sol works with parent organizations to improve the buildings and grounds and assists teachers to find ways to make the original culture and language more central to instruction. We provide books to build school libraries and encourage children to read both in Chiapas and Guatemala. By helping parents and teachers to improve the schools, the community is enriched by the pride that comes from giving their children a better education.
A Special Request for Help from Edward James Olmos:
The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action has informed me that they were very grateful for your significant support in 2008 for their relief efforts for survivors of Hurricane Stan in Chiapas, Mexico. The non-profit is now in its 12th year of helping people to address poverty in the remote mountain communities in the Sierra Madre. They do this by working with small-scale coffee growers and by teaching people to grow their own food with permaculture, among other strategies.
An important part of their work to confront poverty is to provide assistance to schools that serve indigenous children. These schools are unique because they are the only places where indigenous children can receive some teaching in their own language in a region where local cultures are under pressure. But as bilingual schools, they receive only a fraction of the funding that other schools do. The buildings are in terrible shape and teachers do not have adequate materials for teaching. Sexto Sol works with schools that don't have proper buildings including one that is located in the flood zone. Sexto Sol organizes the parents and teachers to make improvements to the buildings and to create attractive play areas for the children. They provide the paint, landscaping materials and training needed to get the job done. They also provide a significant amount of books to schools for libraries to encourage children to read.
Francisco and Tamara, the field team of the Sexto Sol Center, ask for your collaboration to improve the education these children receive by making a contribution to this effort. For more information on the work of the Sexto Sol Center, please see www.sextosol.org. They asked me to tell you that "Changing the world is a team effort". They'd appreciate having you as part of the team. I encourage you to consider making a contribution.
Edward James Olmos