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Todos Santos, Guatemala - The Global Alliance for Animals and People
In Todos Santos, Guatemala, The GAAP are working closely with the local community to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to solving issues between people and animals.

 
The work the GAAP does in Todos Santos includes; canine rabies vaccination, responsible ownership and disease prevention education, sterilization campaigns, partnership building, and capacity building.

The Place

The GAAP uses a multidisciplinary approach because it strongly believes that we need a group of creative and motivated people with varied backgrounds and experiences to work together with the community to find novel solutions.

The municipality of Todos Santos-Cuchumatán is hidden within the dramatic scenery of the northwestern highlands of Guatemala. It lies within the Sierras of Cuchumatán at an elevation of 2,500m in the Department of Huehuetenango.

The municipality of Todos Santos-Cuchumatán covers an area of 269 square km and is composed of the town of Todos Santos-Cuchumatán, 6 villages and 69 smaller rural communities. The municipal area is inhabited by 26,118 people (2002 census) and the large majority are of Mayan descent (over 90%) and live in rural areas.

Agriculture is the most important source of livelihood, as well as handicrafts at a much lower scale. At those elevations, the most predominant crops are maize, wheat, potatoes, barley, alfalfa and beans. In terms of livestock, the most common animals reared are sheep, pigs, and chickens. Dogs and cats are very common, and most of them are free-roaming.

 

The People

The GAAP are working closely with the local community to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to solving issues between people and animals.

Todos Santos is one of the last remaining indigenous communities where both men and women still wear their traditional clothing. Men wear red-and-white striped pants and shirts with a thick embroidered collar, while the women wear a blue striped blouse with a beautifully embroidered front. All textiles are hand-woven by women.

Something that fascinates visitors is that even though young men still wear the traditional attire, they always find ways to make it more stylish, by combining it with western clothing, or tailoring their pants into a hip hop fashion or styling their haircuts with gel or hair spray.

The people of Todos Santos are private but extremely friendly. In the downtown area, one can always find people. If one greets them, they will always greet you back. On Saturdays, the whole downtown area comes to life. for market day. People from this municipality and from others come to town to sell an array of items: fruit, vegetables, poultry, trinkets, clothing, hand-woven textiles, footwear, oil snakes to cure every possible ailment, prescription drugs… you can find anything! It is a really fun and interesting day!

 

The GAAP in Todos Santos

The work the GAAP does in Todos Santos includes: canine rabies vaccination, responsible ownership and disease prevention education, sterilization campaigns, partnership building, and capacity building. Over the years, the work has expanded to include individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, genders, ages and professions such as educators, writers, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, health promoters, biologists, personal coaches, and search and rescue trainers.

The GAAP uses a multidisciplinary approach because it strongly believes that we need a group of creative and motivated people with varied backgrounds and experiences to work together with the community to find novel solutions. We are aware that, in order for our work to be successful, there has to be a change in people´s attitude, perception and behaviour towards their animals. We can only get there by making strong connections on the ground and through direct communication. There has to be community buy-in in terms of residents and local stakeholders, and we have made significant progress with both of these groups.

We are proud to say that The GAAP´s work in Todos Santos has a solid foundation and strong momentum. The children (and adults) expect us to come every year and accept us as part of their community for the time that we are there.

Guillermo Pérez, Program Coordinator