Sexto Sol Center for Community Action (SSCCA) is named for the Sixth Sun of the Mayan calendar, a time of justice and emancipation of indigenous peoples. SSCCA “contributes to the elimination of poverty and the restoration of the damaged environment by promoting cooperative enterprise, environmentally sound agriculture, appropriate technology and conservation.” They work in the Sierra Madre region of Chiapas, as well as across the southern border, supporting repatriated refugees in Guatemala. The organization assists with the creation of cooperative businesses, helps grow healthy food, improves neglected schools, protects the watershed, creates ecovillages, and helps community members heal from the trauma of armed conflict. SSCCA also advocates internationally for the respect of indigenous human rights and for environmental and economic justice.SSCCA also advocates internationally for the respect of indigenous human rights and for environmental and economic justice.Escuela de Agroecología y Permacultura Tierra Linda is its permaculture school, located in a mountainous region where subsistence farmers tend to plant only corn or beans and where malnutrition is widespread. The demonstration farm teaches people that, on a relatively small parcel, one can produce a variety of crops for a good diet. It is possible to grow food using soil-building techniques and other principles of permaculture even in places where deforestation has damaged the land. Tierra Linda is also the location of the founders’ office and home. Sitting on a steep ridge above the city of Motozintla, Terra Linda has a spectacular view of the Sierra Madre and plenty of sunshine.
Sexto Sol tends to have more interested volunteers than space available, and it is better able to place volunteers closer to their travel dates rather than many months out as volunteer needs change. At the time of this writing, SSCCA was looking for volunteers to:
- help with permaculture and gardening work
- assist with online tech support
- install bottle lights in dark schools
- harvest coffee at a collective coffee farm in Guatemala
- train service and kitchen staff at a newly established ecolodge
- help with a future project for an ecovillage in Guatemala
They were also looking for someone with experience with rocket stoves to heat schools.
Motozintla is a quiet town. Volunteers can use their free time to read, study, or socialize. On the weekend, the surrounding mountains make a great day-trip destination. Volunteers are asked to abstain from drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes while at Tierra Linda, and to dress appropriately for rural Mexico.
Sexto Sol Center for Community Action
Motozintla, Sierra Madre, Chiapas, Mexico
U.S. tel. 480/854-7583
Application Process: Send an email, noting availability, skills (including level of Spanish, if any), and interests. Volunteers must have finished high school and be able to travel independently. At the time of this writing, they were unable to accommodate families but hope to do so in the future.
Cost: None. Volunteers are responsible for their own expenses.
Placement Length: There is a minimum placement of one week.
Language Requirements: Depends on the work, but usually Spanish is not required for most tasks.
Housing: Accommodations are available at the Tierra Linda farm for a small donation and include a studio apartment with a shared bathroom. Volunteers must purchase their own groceries and prepare their own meals.
Operating Since: 1997
Number of Volunteers: 8 in 2012