About Us

PAVA is a nonsectarian, non-profit organization established in Guatemala in 1982. We work closely with rural communities in Chimaltenango, Guatemala to achieve long-term sustainable development through community-based programs and projects. PAVA is an acronym for “Programa de Apoyo a los Vecinos del Altiplano”, which translates into “Aid Program for Highland Communities”.

Our work began when we learned about the armed conflict’s devastating effects on the Guatemalan highland communities. Over the years, we have contributed to improve nutrition, infrastructure, and education in these communities.

In 2008, we decided to concentrate our efforts solely on education as we believe it is the core for change.

What we do

With over 30 years of experience working in projects in the Guatemalan highlands, we focus on the creation of a new model of community intervention through our Comunitecas. These are community libraries that represent a space that provides access to information, sharing, and education for all ages

Our Philosophy

We seek close cooperation with communities and local authorities to ensure the continuity and sustainability of our projects.

Our mission

To improve the lives of rural families in Guatemala by creating libraries that evolve into centers for learning, empowerment, and community development.

Our History

Our work started in Guatemala following the armed conflict to help Guatemalan highland communities improve their lives through sustainable projects.
We developed an emergency plan aimed at 92 communities, which consisted of assessing the needs of the affected areas and providing assistance through the donation of seeds and farming tools.
We obtained legal status in Guatemala.
We established PAVA Foundation in the United States and obtained non-profit status, 501(c)(3).
We focused on development projects for highland communities that were affected by the armed conflict. We built 76 schools, 13 bridges, led 42 potable water projects, and trained women on environmental care and the formation of healthy homes. We also undertook a scholarship program for distinguished, low-income students from the Chimaltenango communities.
We decided to focus on education as the core of community change.
We launched Biblioteco, a mobile library that visited many communities. With this program, we opened the doors to what would eventually become our Comunitecas.
We started work on the Comunitecas, and with them, the pilot programs of Kindergarten and Story Time, aimed at children in early ages.

Our Team

Operating Staff

Our Operating Staff implements our programs in the communities, coordinates the work of promoters and local communities’ boards of directors.


  • Madelyn Ortiz – Field Director
  • Aracely Martínez – Administration
  • Marta Pérez Quex – Scholarship Coordinator and Community Outreach



PAVA shapes promoters, young leaders in their communities, who work daily to encourage the Comunitecas in their villages. The purpose of PAVA to train these young people is not only to promote their personal development but that with their support, library centers and become an active part of communities.


Board of Directors

The Board is composed of volunteers and donors in Guatemala, with various profiles and interests, who contribute their time and expertise to the operation of programs and fundraising.


  • Cecilia Dougherty, President (Guatemala)
  • Eugenia Minondo de Fairhurst, Vicepresident (Guatemala)
  • Nani de Echeverría, Secretary
  • Frances Ingouville, Treasurer
  • Sara Tercero, Spokesperson
  • Lucrecia Alvarado, Spokesperson



Community Approach


Promoters are young community leaders who help us support and promote the  Comunitecas in their villages. Our purpose is to foster the Promoters’ personal  development and leverage their support in order to make Comunitecas an active part of  their communities.