Asociación AJPU is a partner organization located in the department of Totonicapán, Guatemala. AJPU manufactures and installs three primary products: water filters, VIP latrines, and fuel-efficient stoves. The Association of Mam Christian Women for Development offers these products to their members and their families on a cost-sharing basis. These products are all made in Guatemala, by Guatemalans, sourcing from local materials.
Pictured above: Representatives from the Association, NCP, and CEDEPCA meet with AJPU in their workshop to negotiate contracts and place orders for stoves and latrines.
AJPU means “leader” in K’iche, an indigenous language of Guatemala. The philosophy of this organization is based on the virtues of Grandfather AJPU, represented by the sun, meaning fairness, honesty, and justice. Incorporated as a legal non-profit in Guatemala since 2000, AJPU promotes development projects related to health, the environment, and cultural identity.
For about a decade, AJPU leaders Vicente Menchu and Alfredo Aguilar have worked closely with a Canadian non-profit called Help for the Highlands of Guatemala Society based in Calgary. Together, they developed the initial technology for these products and continue to improve their designs to adapt to the needs of the communities. Financial support for this initiative has been provided by Rotary clubs in Southern Alberta. AJPU began their operation making water filters under a tarp in an open field, but now manufacture multiple products in a large workshop building, employing a number of people from their community.
An Interesting Challenge
Four languages are represented in this partnership. Members of AJPU speak K’iche, while the women of the Association speak Mam. Spanish is generally the second language for people of these indigenous groups. Then add Canadians and Americans to the mix, and English becomes language number four! Once in a while, something gets temporarily lost in translation, but we seem to be doing just fine and our partnership is blossoming.