Rodolfo Alvarez: Building ‘Eden’ in Guatemala

by | Mar 19, 2021 | Heartivist Of The Week

When Rodolfo was fifteen, he began volunteering at a summer camp called Viamistad. For the first time in his life, he was surrounded by people with disabilities,  beginning to make many new friends and learning about their experiences.

One of these new friends was Jorge, who uses a wheelchair and communicates with modified sign language due to partial paralysis.  For years, Jorge was locked in his house while his family left for work.  He fell into a deep depression and later survived a suicide attempt.  After this trauma, his family finally agreed to allow him to leave the house each day to sell toys at the main plaza. Jorge was very proud of himself and his business, but still felt frustrated that he could not find a ‘real job.’

Rodolfo realized that the lack of job opportunities and the constant isolation were serious issues for all of his friends with disabilities. In 2019, with Jorge’s help, he decided to put in practice his knowledge in natural medicine and founded Edén, a social-enterprise, that facilitates opportunities for disabled entrepreneurs to create all-natural wellness products using the best essential oils and natural ingredients. The model is based on the specific abilities of each person, facilitating their success and self-confidence.

“We hope to help society at large to see people for their strengths rather than for their challenges.”

When Jorge and Rodolfo first began Edén, Jorge’s mom told Rodolfo that her son “couldn’t do anything to help” and that Rodolfo “didn’t need to include him.” Jorge was, unfortunately, used to this kind of minimization. But, through the first few months of Edén, Jorge was consistently working and supporting his family with income.

“Now, we have noticed that his mom and family talk more about his strengths, appreciate his contributions and engage with him in a new way. Through community support, accessible work, and representation, we are changing the stereotypes that hurt people with disabilities,” says Rodolfo.

So far, each of the eight entrepreneurs in the program earned an average of $5 per hour over the course of three months. This is more than 2x the Guatemalan minimum wage. With their new autonomy, the entrepreneurs give back to their communities and create social and economic growth for themselves.

For example, Sergio adopted a dog (something he always wanted) and was able to independently pay for its food and vaccinations, Iris treated her whole family to dessert and Darian helped pay for her sister’s medical expenses. The Edén entrepreneurs create, package and sell products that invite each customer to enjoy health and wellness, naturally. They receive all of the sales, reinvest in the business, and put their earnings towards their own dreams.

Edén is a social enterprise, but they are also a group of friends! Over the last year, they have met bi-monthly for an online hang-out, called Cafe Con Edén.  Believing that wellness comes through body, mind and community, they wanted to support each other through the isolating lock-down.

“We are so grateful to The Pollination Project for supporting us. Thanks to TPP we can address the difficulties of this pandemic and are encouraged to move forward because we know that our work with Edén is fundamental for the improvement of our lives, as well as our community and Guatemala as a country. Edén is growing with momentum and confidence, and I’m so excited to see where we go.”

To learn more about this project and to get in touch with Rodolfo Alvarez, please visit


Call for our Spanish speaking followers 👇

🐮🐷🐔🐣 ¡Te invitamos a unirte a la octava edición del Retiro de Meditación para Activistas por los Animales! 🧘🏻‍♀️ Este evento gratuito, dirigido a activistas hispanohablantes, se llevará a cabo los días 4 y 5 de mayo de 2024 a través de Zoom, y estará guiado por nuestro facilitador, Tashi Nyima.

❔ ¿Por qué participar? Sabemos que muchos activistas por los animales enfrentan desafíos emocionales que pueden afectar su capacidad para seguir adelante. 📣🆘

✅ En este retiro, aprenderás valiosas estrategias de autocuidado para fortalecer tu mundo interior y hacer que tu activismo sea más compasivo y efectivo. 🫶🏼✊🏼


¡Ayúdanos a difundir esta invitación entre tus contactos comprometidos con la causa! 🌱💚

#activistas #animalistas #meditacion #derechosanimales #animalrights #animalactivism #heartivism
🌟 Empowering Through Play! 🌟

Nature Trust (Tamilnadu, India) launched the project, "Enhance the Skills of Children with Disabilities through Play," supported by one of our seed grants 🎉✨ Timed with World Autism Awareness Day 2024, this initiative resonates with the theme of "Empowering the Autistic Voices."

In particular, the grant allowed Nature Trust to provide specially curated play materials to 20 remarkable children with diverse disabilities. These tools were thoughtfully selected to ignite their development and unlock their potential. 🧩🎨

At the distribution event held on March 31st, the atmosphere was filled with joy as children and parents expressed gratitude for the newfound importance of play in their lives. 💖👦👧 The presence of local leaders underscored the significance of inclusive initiatives like this one.

Beyond distribution, Nature Trust volunteers engaged with the children, creating lasting connections and memories. 🤝 

Through the power of play, Nature Trust is fostering a more inclusive world where every child has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. 🌈 

Let's continue spreading joy and empowerment through play! 

#EmpowerThroughPlay #InclusiveCommunities 🌟 
#childrenwithdisabilities #autism #supportchildren #kindness #heartivism #India
It's Volunteer Month! 🌟 🌟 🌟 Today we celebrate our grant advisors working on Economic Development focus area.

By meticulously selecting projects for our seed grants, they're not just funding ideas—they're empowering communities and sparking transformative change. 

Join us in celebrating their invaluable efforts and the positive impact they're creating together!

🔸 Eric Anorrey (Ghana)
🔸 Mariam Nakiryowa (Uganda)
🔸 Jean-Marie Zihalirwa (DRC)
🔸 Emily Logiron Asekon (Kenya)
🔸 Georgia Bernbaum (USA) 
🔸 Herve Tsoala Kuete (Cameroon)
🔸 Jackson Bizimungu (Rwanda)
🔸 Okumu Dickson (Uganda)
🔸 Samuel Litunya (Kenya)


#volunteermonth #volunteer #heartivism #economicdevelopment #change #empoweringcommunities
The Green Earth Initiative (#Cameroon) is a project dedicated to educating and empowering students about climate change, sustainable development, and environmental challenges, that has received a seed grant from The Pollination Project in 2023. With a focus on fostering environmental protection and conservation, the initiative establishes Eco-clubs and Environment Clubs in schools, providing students with the tools to learn, engage, and take action in their communities.

Since receiving the grant from TPP, the Green Earth Initiative has expanded its reach, now encompassing 9 additional schools across two regions/cities, surpassing its initial goal of 5. 
This expansion was made possible by the overwhelming interest from school authorities and the growing number of volunteers and team members.

Through the support of TPP and other partners, the project's environmental education programs, awareness campaigns, and initiatives have impacted over 8000 students in two cities of Cameroon. Additionally, the initiative has planted over 600 trees, launched 5 Environment/Eco Clubs, and distributed over 150 adapted waste bins produced from recycled plastics, contributing to proper waste management practices.

The seed grant from The Pollination Project has been instrumental in catalyzing the growth and success of the Green Earth Initiative, enabling it to make a tangible difference in the lives of students and communities, while fostering a culture of environmental stewardship and sustainability. 

#environmentprotection #seedgrant #heartivism #environmentaleducation