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I had the pleasure of visiting Pachaj and the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project in August and I can’t wait to go back. The spirit of the community and the local culture lives on in the families, and these families share what they have – their customs, their language(s), their homes, and time together – with everyone who comes to visit. The school is a tranquil place to study language, but you can get a different taste of Guatemala when you climb out of the farmlands and onto the mountain slopes where the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project has done, and continues to do, amazing work to rebuild the ecosystems that were taken out by logging and mud slides. It was an inspiring and humbling experience to visit and participate in the community and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a unique Spanish and K’iche’ immersion experience.

- Alexandria S.

El Proyecto Chico Mendes is a model of grassroots, local activism. Coordinator Armando leads with conviction and dynamism to bring regional and international community together in efforts to defend and restore public forests, improve education about natural resources and waste processing, and fight for indigenous access to land and water. This small, steadily growing operation has both heart and impact. Ecotourism director Nicté connects visitors to landscape and culture with passion and great people skills. I have twice visited and lived with this organization, never for long enough, and frequently recommend it to people. It is a great project with wonderful people.

- Nikki J.

I went to Pachaj with a delegation of Oberlin students, and I can say that it was one of the best and happiest experiences I have ever had. Pachaj is one of the warmest communities I have ever visited, the food is great, the teachers are wonderful and patient (I was learning K’iche’) and the reforestation project was so rewarding. Armando and his family make everyone feel like they are at home, and their dedication to this project (which has been running for 11 years, without Armando getting paid a thing) is a beautiful thing.

- Samantha W.

The Chico Mendes Project is the jewel of Pachaj, and an asset to Guatemala and Planet Earth in general. Armando and his family welcomed me and my wife with open arms to join them in the rewarding experience of fostering life and growth in the hills outside of Xela. The Spanish classes given by his nieces in a one-on-one environment were great. The the whole environment is warm, nurturing and rewarding, and I couldn't recommend it more. My only regret for the time we spent there was that we couldn't stay longer. Mucho amor a Armando, Claudia, Angel y Quetzali, mis amigos.

- Ryan F.

We were fortunate enough to volunteer at Chico Mendes during June and July of 2009 and it was an experience that profoundly affected both of our lives. By planting trees in the nearby hills of Pachaj, Chico Mendes benefits the community there through protecting the surrounding ecosystems and granting the people ownership of natural resources that benefit their community. Our time at the project opened our eyes to how vital community-run projects like Chico Mendes are in the preservation and vitality of the people in Guatemala. Armando and his family, who run the project, are an inspiration because of their dedication and passion for their cause and it was an honor to work with them. 

- Adra C. and Tyler L.

I just spent the last week volunteering with Chico Mendes and studying Spanish with the language school. As a volunteer with the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project, I spent time watering and weeding seedlings and planting saplings in the mountains surrounding Pachaj, ensuring that the community’s drinking water remains potable, and free, and that their communal land retains its natural beauty. In the afternoons, I received one-on-one tutoring with an excellent teacher, improving my Spanish greatly. Overall, it was a really great experience. Thank you Chico Mendes!

- Megan O.

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