Atzin is a non-profit civil organization that focuses on priority needs like education, nutrition, water and health. Since 1997, we have worked closely with families trapped in acute poverty in the large village of Tlamacazapa, Guerrero, Mexico.
Atzin programs are based on principles of social participation; investigation with action; and environmental and economic sustainability. Today, each program has many activities run by “promoters,” all local young women, with technical assistance from Atzin.
Consider the heart of development work: a sense of personal empowerment always begins with an inner spark of possibility and grows from within. The nurturing of that spark is our mission, one that opens up prospects, pathways and prosperity. Indeed, we help change futures for the better.
Based in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Atzin in Mexico collaborates with a sister organization, Atzin Canada. Both are registered charities with no political or religious affiliations.
People-centered development is the basis for Atzin’s work with groups and communities. Grounded in daily reality and guided by beliefs in a just and humane society, Atzin’s model is unique because:
local women (promoters) run the program day-to-day operations and planning;
stated principles guide program decisions as does regular assessment of context;
authentic participation by people is key to program success;
and importantly, the programs are integrated across four sectors, meaning that programs build on each other so that people can attain better skills, improve their life circumstances and achieve cultural well-being.
With all its contradictions, tensions and opportunities, a people-centered approach is a process of taking calculated actions in rhythm with deliberate thoughtfulness. We realize that development work requires resolve - a persistent determination to create a more hopeful and humane reality.
Since 1999, over 50 people have volunteered full-time on site with Atzin, coming from Canada, United States, Germany and Mexico. Most had a steep learning curve during their time with Atzin, gaining considerable knowledge and skills in community health and development. Many others have volunteered from a distance, either as board members or as friends of Atzin and Tlamacazapa, taking on specific tasks and events. Their testimonies speak of experiences that helped them to grow as individuals and as citizens of the world.
Thoughts in 2018 about experiences in 2007 and 2009
Volunteering with Atzin for a year in 2007 fundamentally shaped my personal and professional values. Ten years later, those formative experiences continue to exert a significant influence on my daily life. I learned the value of deep commitment and taking responsibility for the well-being of one another, especially the most vulnerable among us...
Health and Education Programs
Full-time volunteer (2007), Part-time volunteer (2009)
Working at Atzin was a chance for me to test my limits: physically (working hard, in the hot sun), linguistically (communicating in a foreign tongue), organizationally (planning the logistics and materials needed for a week of work) and personally (building the confidence and resolve that I could and would succeed despite challenges). I am a more disciplined, more organized, more forward-thinking person today because of my time at Atzin...
Engineer, Water, Sanitation & Environment Program
Full-time volunteer (2003- 2004)
My second visit to Tlamacazapa, now as a Board member from Calgary, highlighted the tremendous challenges and the extraordinary progress of Atzin since my visit about 20 years ago. The most impressive measure for me was watching dozens of young women displaying confidence and competence as Atzin promoters of education, literacy and health, as well as their ability to speak out on human rights being central to their well-being...
MLA Alberta (2004-2018)
Board of Directors, Atzin Canada (2019-present)
COVID SMOLDERS LIKE AN UNDERGROUND BURN
“Covid is smoldering in Tlamacazapa, like an underground burn,” says Susan Smith, Director of Atzin...Since May 15th, over a period of eight weeks, covid took the lives of 34 people; the usual in a month is two to three deaths.
ATZIN RECEIVES GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN AWARD
On June 28, 2020, Atzin was recognized for its work during covid19 receiving an award in the Outstanding Big Hearts category.
(Atzin category begins at 57:00)