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Indian Church Village, San Carlos Village, and Lamanai Archaeological Reserve

"Giving Back", Malaspina Geography Field School

Interesting Organizations & Projects in Indian Church Village, Belize

Indian Church Village Artisans (ICVA)
Indian Church Scholarship Program
Indian Church Village Library
Indian Church Government School
Las Orquedias Woman's Group & Restaurant


Beyond Touring Inc. offers clients the opportunity to assist with sustainable community development in the communities of Indian Church and San Carlos located in northern Belize and surrounding the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve.  As a client of Beyond Touring you are NOT obligated to volunteer on any level and simply by traveling with us you help to support our goals. 


Indian Church Village is immediately adjacent to the southern boundary of the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve, in the Orange Walk District in northern Belize and is home to approximately 260 people. The majority of the residents are originally from Guatemala and relocated to Belize primarily between 1976 and 1978 during political unrest in their home country.  They took their village name, “Indian Church,” from the original name of the archaeological site, which was changed to Lamanai when Spanish documents revealed it as the original Maya name. 

In 1991, a positive direction was taken when the government of Belize established the archaeological reserve to protect the cultural and natural resources immediately surrounding the ancient Maya city.  The people of the village were then allocated individual family plots of land and plots of land for future generations.  This is a remote rural village that is economically quite poor:  there is no electricity, the school is substandard, and employment opportunities are few.  However, most people are eager to learn and improve their standards of education and living.  The village has a Craft Training Project, the goal of which is to offer residents a positive sustainable development endeavor that will generate income from tourism, helping to improve these standards.  Many of the residents believe the project will benefit the entire village because tourism is increasing at the site of Lamanai.  This endeavor should entice tourists to support the village through purchasing craft products on-site or visiting the village to see the projects.


This village is located directly on the west bank of the New River Lagoon about a 12 minutes drive south of the site of Lamanai and is a cooperative village in which all land is owned by the community, and allocated to individual family members.  There are approximately 200 people who reside in this community who predominantly moved here in the early 1970's from the village of Guinea Grass.  The village is as of yet mostly technologically primitive.  Water is pumped from wells; electricity is only used as a luxury by use of generator in the evening, primarily for light and to power the communal television.  Its economy revolves around agriculture, which includes a host of fruits and vegetables, including onions, habanero peppers, and watermelons.

At this time we are concentrating our efforts on Indian Church but have plans in the near future to assist San Carlos with sustainable tourism projects. 


Our grassroots efforts raise funds through ecotourism for community development.  This non-traditional private fund raising effort offers numerous advantages to both the interested traveler and local residents.  Travelers have an opportunity to truly 'give back' to the areas they visit by becoming involved beyond observation; they get first-hand knowledge of project results, and get a new perspective on their own life compared to residents of Indian Church.


Past and Current Projects –

As stated above it is NOT A REQUIREMENT to partake, below are some of our current and past projects.  There are numerous other possibilities but this provides everyone with a good idea of what we are striving for.   

  • Donation of library books or supplies that meet the needs of the community

  • Donation of school supplies such as paper, pencils, backpacks, uniforms, or other needed items 

  • Donations of clothing

  • Assist with repairs, additions, or new construction (carpenters, electricians, masons)

  • Establishment of cooperative relationships such as:

  •  "Sister" Artisan Center

  • Medical Center, health organization, or hospital partner

  • Adoption or partnerships with the government schools students, classes, and/or teachers

  • Partnership with a humane society or other pet/animal organization

  • 1/2 day or more organized mini-workshops that incorporate client's talents and resident's needs:

  • Production of artistic greeting cards with Maya symbols

  • Various ceramic skills including clay processing, hand building, firing, and slipping

  • Embroidery, sewing, or silk screening techniques

  • Stone or woodcarving projects, including processing and collection

  • Literacy projects for children or adults through either the library or government school 

  • Conservation lectures, fieldwork, or lesson plans

  • Health, safety, or sporting issues and programs

  • Farming methods and techniques        


As the world's oldest and largest ecotourism organization, TIES promotes the principles of ecotourism and responsible practices in travel and tourism. With the goal of uniting conservation, communities and sustainable travel, TIES serves its members in over 90 countries, and acts as the global source of knowledge and advocacy in ecotourism. For more information, visit

BEYOND TOURING - Meaningful BELIZE Travel * 3036 Lake Shore Drive * Deerfield Beach, Florida 33442   954.415.2897
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Ecotourism at ECOCLUB®, the International Ecotourism Club™
Promoting responsible travel and ecotourism, supporting sustainable development, protect the cultures and environments they visit.

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