Big-hearted non-profits I support!

from the Reading Village website

Hey guys,

I've been meaning to do this post for a while now!  As you might know, I donate a portion of my royalties to non-profit organizations that support indigenous rights in Latin America.  Over the past nine years, I've donated to a number of awesome groups, all of which have some thematic connection to the people and places in the books I've published.

Here are the fabulous organizations I'm currently donating to, in case you're curious!

Nija' Nu A.C.: Apoyando a Nuestros Abuelos -- I am SO excited I discovered this non-profit (thanks go to my friend in the Mixteca, Melissa Ferrin.)  It's an absolutely perfect fit with my upcoming book, THE LIGHTNING QUEEN, which is framed as a grandfather telling his grandson about his enchanted friendship with a Romani (Gypsy) girl long ago in a Mixteco village. The novel was inspired by stories told to me by my wise Oaxacan healer friend, Maria Chiquita, who lived to age 97.

 photo from the Nija'nu website

Here's the description from their website:

 "Nija’nu" means elders and those who are regarded with respect and honor in Mixteco, one of the many indigenous languages of Mexico. Born out of a small town in the Mixteca region Nija’nu A.C. is a non-profit organization remembering those elders that for various reasons live in poverty with little or no family support.

Nija’nu A.C. works to alleviate immediate needs such as hunger and unsafe living conditions for elders living in Santo Domingo Tonalá and surrounding villages. With a deep commitment to providing elders with a dignified way of life, Nija’nu A.C. provides monthly food aid, specialized healthcare visits, and works toward improving the elders' living spaces. We also help elders with paperwork and applications in order to receive government benefits. We offer social activities, but most importantly provide care and company to our elders.

Isn't this wonderful?  Years ago, I visited several of the villages they work with, and have been blessed with wisdom from many of the elders in those communities!  I'm so happy to have some way to give back...


Another amazing organization I donate to is Reading Village, which is a great fit because of the Guatemala connection in RED GLASS and the indigenous literacy triumphs in THE QUEEN OF WATER and THE LIGHTNING QUEEN.  Their work is in impoverished Mayan communities in Guatemala, but they're based in nearby Boulder, CO, which means I've had the joy of meeting some of the hard-working and passionate people in this organization.

photo from Reading Village website

From their website:

Reading Village transforms lives through literacy. Leveraging reading and education as mechanisms to end poverty, we create the conditions for youth to discover their true potential and become agents of change in the world. Through collaboration and innovation, whole communities unleash their power to flourish under their own resources and creativity.  Our mission is to empower youth to eradicate illiteracy and lead their communities out of poverty.

I've been so impressed with the results they've seen with their work-- so many people empowered through education, and in turn, empowering others in their community.


The third non-profit I'm supporting, The Tandana Foundation, works with indigenous communities in Ecuador, which is a great tie-in with THE QUEEN OF WATER and  THE INDIGO NOTEBOOK. I've donated to their scholarship program, but I also love that they facilitate cross-cultural friendships, which is a theme in many of my books, including THE LIGHTNING QUEEN and RED GLASS. I first found out about their work when members of the organization connected with me because they'd been using THE QUEEN OF WATER with their participants!

with scholarship coordinator Veronica on the left, student Susana in the middle, and me on the right

This past winter, on a trip to Ecuador, I was absolutely thrilled to meet with the scholarship student I've been supporting-- Susana, a Quichua woman and mother of several children who is committed to her education despite many obstacles.  She lives in a very remote village in the Andes, and must commute for hours to get to school.  We had lunch together, along with Maria Virginia Farinango (my Quichua co-author of THE QUEEN OF WATER), Anna Taft (founder of the non-profit), and other dedicated people.

This is from their website:

The Tandana Foundation is a non-profit organization that offers intercultural volunteer opportunities, scholarships, and support for small community projects in highland Ecuador and Mali's Dogon Country.  Tandana coordinates volunteer programs that offer visitors to Ecuador or Mali the unique opportunity to be guests rather than tourists, to form intercultural friendships, to experience a rich indigenous culture, and to make a difference in the lives of new friends.  Its scholarship program allows rural Ecuadorian students to continue their secondary and higher education.  Its community projects support villagers in Mali and Ecuador as they realize their dreams of improving their communities. 

Tandana comes from a Kichwa root meaning "to gather together" or "to unite" and represents the spirit of our work.

 with Maria Virginia and toddler Leslie on the left, Anna in the middle, me on the right


All three of these organizations are 501-C3 non-profits, which means they are tax write-offs.  If you're interested in indigenous rights issues, I encourage you to donate or volunteer, too!

 Thanks for swinging by...