Note: To fully understand this segment and other Success Stories it would help to have the background information from the History section: HOW THE FOUNDATION BEGAN, and THE FOUNDERS.
The Valparaiso Plantation didn't actually become known as such until after the Foundation was organized in December 1969, as explained further along, but all of its altruistic activities had been functioning in one form or another since the beginning, but for the purposes of this history we'll start with 1970 when the Foundation gave a great impetus to enhancing everything that was being done.
What hasn't really been touched upon very much is the crucial economic activity without which the Andersen family wouldn't have been able to support themselves and do what they did, nor would there have been employment for the dozens and dozens of people involved--nor would there have been a place for THE CID to exist. It was an essential partnership, especially for the Vocational Program.
So, let's just mention one key element, the establishment at Valparaiso of the largest and most prestigious dairy in the Alta Verapaz area--LA LECHERIA LAS VICTORIAS or THE VICTORIAS DAIRY that had dominated the area since about 1940, or before, but in 1971 it was going bankrupt.
By late 1971 the Andersen's efforts to employ all the people was paying off, but they needed more profitable projects. The workers had cleared the land profitably by selling firewood, burning off the debris, then planting corn (as you see them doing below), and then afterwards between the rows of corn planting highly nutritious varieties of pasture grasses.
They needed more cattle, and more employment opportunities, then word came about the bankrupt dairy. Cordell worked there for 2 months learning why it was failing, and what could be done about it. He became convinced he could make it work.
Valparaiso was the only property in the area able to absorb a dairy and the owner trusted Cordell so much that with a handshake the deal was made, he leaving two of his own properties as collateral on the bank loan, becoming a co-signer, and talking the previous owner, who was a director in the bank, to be the important co-signer. The deal was done on February 2, 1972.
The growing herd of cattle they already had were divided into milkers and the others were sold to finance what had to be done. So in a year the Andersen's divided pastures, built a milking parlor and milk processing building, developed a whole new potable water system in that area, installed a large diesel generator for emergencies, and built 4 homes nearby for the main dairy workers. Most of the cows were of the Jersey breed, but one Holstein/Brown Swiss cross, Susana you see above a few years later became the champion producer with 47.5 liters (12 gallons) of milk in one day.
It's a long and fascinating story, and, as most aspects of this history, too long for this website. It became the very economic foundation of the plantation and community for the next 26 years giving full-time work to 39 men and women, plus part-time work to the vocational students. Let's just mention two aspects of it and leave it there.
In the mid-1970's a fellow named Dario Paz came into the area bringing with him a pure blood Jersey herd among which was the Central American Grand Champion of the Jersey breed. He vowed to destroy the Victorias dairy. A friend of the Andersen's took him up on the vow and they bet $5,000 on the upcoming livestock show. The results can be seen below--2 cows and a heifer from Las Victorias beat the Grand Champion. Julie, David and Richard are the Andersen kids with the new champions and their trophy and ribbons.
Now the 2nd item: At the time of taking over the dairy it had an average production per cow of 3.5 quarts of milk daily. Cordell knew he could turn it around, and he did solve most of the problems, and with the help of Dan Noorlander, solved the others--mainly sub-clinical mastitis in 80% of the herd. All of that, plus using artificial insemination and imported semen of high quality to improve the herd, and by the time the dairy and plantation was sold in 1993 the average daily production per cow was at 16 quarts daily per cow--the best in Guatemala.
Now let’s go back to the history at Valparaiso from the time the Foundation was organized in December 1969 and learn of the amazing events that transpired due to the generosity and dedication of Dr. Andersen, his wife and the many who became donors to the Foundation.
By 1970 death had been stopped in its tracks at Valparaiso—and continued for 3 years.
This had come about due to the Preventive Medical Program started in 1968 teaching about the importance of Cleanliness and the critical need of each home having an outhouse. Each family was promised a floor and box seat if they would dig their hole, but nothing happened. They laughed at Cordell when he told them of the "invisible monsters called microbes on their hands and in their water that caused sickness, rot and bad odors." With the help of his father, who made another trip and brought him the necessary equipment, Cordell was able to show and convince them. See the Success Story: Teaching Cleanliness.
By the end of 1970 every home had their outhouse, and death stopped for 3 years. A crucial part of this was the young people who participated as "visiting health promoters" visiting every home in the area every week and advising the medical team of the sick so they could be treated quickly and inexpensively.
Coupled with the visits, and the teaching of CLEANLINESS was a unique method of convincing them of the importance of proper diet. See: Teaching Nutrition in the section.
The work was spreading to other areas and became more effective with a new partnership with a great Guatemalan, Professor Federico Veliz, a government rural school teacher, but who devoted a lot of personal time helping his people. He being a dedicated Catholic helped carry the Foundation's work to dozens of rural areas throughout this Northern Region. You can see him in the LEADERSHIP page, and PROJECTS.
With the boost from the Foundation, everything at Valparaiso grew and was improved. The elementary school, adult literacy and preventive medical classes, and vocational training programs were all expanded. Below is a collection of photographs showing the beginning educational efforts and their evolution with the help of the Foundation:
Education started showing movies and then moved to classes after work in a feed warehouse. The first children's class was handled by Julie, the oldest Andersen daughter, when she was 10 years old. Soon a teacher was hired who only had 3rd grade education himself, but one of the most effective over the years. Teachers with too much education sometimes were problematic. Eventually there were 110 children in kindergarten through 6th grade. In 1980 they participated in the Departmental fair parade in Coban and won 1st Place from Guatemala's president.
The Valparaiso Plantation became known as The Center for Indian Development--THE CID.
Youth from many areas came to Valparaiso for a chance to learn how to live, work and have what was called "The Good Life." There were Cakchiquel/Maya youth from Patzicia and Patzun in the Central Highlands, one Aguacateco/Mayan youth from Aguacatan , Huehuetenango, others from the Kekchi/Mayan areas of Tanchi and Chulac, and of course Poqomchi/Mayan youth from Valparaiso and surrounding villages and towns. One nicknamed "Mecanismo" was from the far northern Department of Peten.
One of them from Patzicia, Daniel Choc, learned quickly and was the first to be taught how to operate the new Ford tractor and all its implements. This tractor was actually the first project of the Foundation in 1970. Daniel in the next 2 years taught 26 others, students and full-time employees how to also drive the tractor.
After 2 years as a student and supervisor at The CID, he returned to his home in Patzicia. It was said in the LDS congregation there, "Daniel left here a boy and returned a man." He went on to become the first full-time LDS Cakchiquel missionary.
It was Daniel who replied to the question of how best to help his people, replying, "Formalize the program at Valparaiso and give other youth like me a chance to learn how to live and work." He is given the credit for naming Valparaiso "The Center for Indian Development." Between him and Cordell the plan was, after his mission to establish in Patzicia "The CID #2," with Daniel as administrator, but tragically during his mission he was killed in the aftermath of the 1976 earthquake that killed 23,000 Guatemalans.
The 1976 earthquake mentioned above in the segment about Daniel Choc, opened up many new and significant projects. See many of them in OTHER SCHOOLS and PROJECTS.
It was never easy, and there at times was perplexing misunderstanding and opposition, but one visionary religious leader in 1973 urged Cordell and the Foundation to persist, saying in 1973 that what they were doing was,
"a crucial experiment that has to continue."
He gave encouragement by confiding that:
"Your work has embarrassed leaders of one world-wide institution into beginning a program inspired by your efforts and success."
That leader explained publicly that Cordell's motives were being misinterpreted by some of his countrymen, but that he was convinced of his sincerity. That leader later volunteered to be a Trustee of the Foundation and continued his support and encouragement for many years.
The revelation from this leader seemed to be the fulfillment of part of what Cordell envisioned when preparing to leave for Guatemala, which was
"I knew that my contribution would be small, but more than anything else I envisioned stimulating powerful individuals and institutions into significant action and perceived that once it was accomplished I would gladly accept being forgotten."
Each member of the growing Andersen family played key roles in what was developing, especially the older ones, who helped their younger sibblings, and their mom and dad.
THE ANDERSEN FAMILY ALL HELPED
They would begin each day with what they called a "Devotional," in which they would sing, study together, review and organize their day, and have family prayer. From the beginning all studied with the Indians in the plantation school, but also studied in English through Calvert Schools correspondence courses. En those courses they each needed a tutor. Julie tutored herself, and tutored David and Cristina. David, tutored his little brother, Richard. Cristina, did the same for Joey. So, the older would tutor the younger, all helping each other. In addition their was a board with Reader's Digest articles separated hanging from nails--an article each day. Also each would go through an entire National Geographic every month, etc.
As mentioned in several places, Julie, being the older was her dad's nurses aid. David took charge of 200 laying hens, and then 400 rabbits, with his little brothers and others as helpers. More on that in the Vocational Ed segment. Cristina made a gigantic contribution mentioned in the Chulac Success Story. Richard and Joey, in addition to being Dave's helpers, helped keep up the dairy records. All helped in the vegetable gardens, and taking care of each other.
After 7 years of hard work, the Andersen's finally had a vacation back in the U.S. The Foundation promised them that if they could get to the U.S. it would see to it that they had a vehicle in which they could return. Cordell rounded up some old cows and sold them for slaughter and off they all went on their first airplane trip--in a Pan American 747. Such a large family caused quite a commotion to say the least.
BYU's LAMANITE GENERATION AT VALPARAISO
While in Provo, Utah he was asked to meet with Janie Thompson of the BYU PROGRAM BUREAU. He cooperated in organizing a tour of Latin America for the Lamanite Generation, a group of singers and dancers of Indian ancestry.
As part of their tour the group would travel to the isolated Alta Verapaz area, and an outdoor performance would be held in a natural amp-theater at Valparaiso, and another in the Olympic Gymnasium in Coban on July 2, 1975. That was on Michelle's 2nd birthday. They all called this little Shirley Temple of a child "Pepita," a "Little Seed."
It was afterwards always recalled by the Lamanite Generation, and the 1,200 people who came, as a "miraclous performance," as it was held in the middle of the rainy season. Three times during the performance walls of rain came towards them, and heads bowed in prayer. When eyes opened each time the storm had dissipated.
Three days later volunteers came to clean up the Central House, and tragically "Pepita" was run over by the pickup. Cordell gave her a blessing and then raced for the hospital in Coban, but she was gone. The family was devastated. The next day the funeral was held for the largest group to ever fill an LDS chapel in Coban. Cordell and Dr. Carl Jacob gave the remarks.
The Lamanite Generation heard about it in South America and plans were made to return to Guatemala for one last performance in honor of Pepita. It was held in the largest theater in Guatemala City to a packed crowd, the entire Andersen family sitting on the front row.
During 1976 one of the greatest cooperative efforts of the Foundation's history was initiated in the Chulac Cooperative Plantation, and in several other areas of the then relatively isolated Polochic area of north eastern Guatemala. This story can be seen in the Success Stories clicking on Chulac and Polochic.
That was a success but also crisis filled year, with the killer earthquake, and the beginning of another good work that went sour.
AN INTERNATIONAL SCANDAL!
The "sour" thing began when Cordell's wife, Maria, accepted a request from a couple in Guatemala City who for several years had done adoption work, but couldn't continue. She carefully followed the procedures they outlined even using the couple's lawyer, and several babies were taken to the U.S. by a Salt Lake City agency called Children's House International. Several more babies were in process with passports pending when the Andersen's went to the U.S. on vacation.
Dr. Carl Jacob was asked to do her the favor of picking up the passports a couple of weeks later, accompanied by a companion in the project, Hortensia Ovalle. On doing so they were surrounded by police, arrested and sent to prison. The Migration authorities were suspicious of Children's House International in whose name 20 babies had left the country during the previous years, but CHI was not registered with the government. It was assumed that Jacob was in collusion with them.
Dr. Jacob's home in the city was searched and the police found he was working with Cordell and the Foundation. Instantly Cordell was assumed to be the ringleader. The headlines in the newspapers announced an "International Baby Smuggling Ring," headed by Cordell and it was said he had escaped the country and was being sought by the F.B.I. Judicial Police raided Valparaiso and took into custody Miguel Max, the manager, and Florencia who was in charge of the Central House.
Cordell was advised to not return to Guatemala as there were warrants for his arrest at the borders and at the airport. He had a visit with several F.B.I. agents in Salt Lake. They totally understood and had a good laugh looking at it as being a typical Latin American cartoon event and suggested that the original couple be contacted so they could inform the authorities that they had started the project and were responsible for the 20 babies. However, the couple were not to be found as they had been told to not say anything and go into hiding. Their lawyer, who was at that time in Europe, was also advised to not return to Guatemala, nor say anything about the case.
The crux of the matter was that Children's House International and the couple they worked with in Guatemala had never legally registered in Guatemala. Maria had been naive in assuming everything had been done legally. Those responsible, to justify themselves in not helping, tried to accuse Maria and Cordell of having used illegal means, but exactly the opposite was true.
Cordell had to spend a lot of money on a lawyer and finally got everyone out of prison, and the warrant for his arrest was canceled. In spite of the truth being revealed there are still those who persist in holding this adoption scandal over Cordell's head, when the truth is that it wasn't even his project.
By 1979 a report was printed in a Guatemalan magazine, saying:
"The Foundation for Indian Development's work in Guatemala is an oasis of hope and justice for the poor."
By 1980 the CID's Foundation sponsored activities included: A grade school with 110 students from kindergarten through 6th grade; A vocational education program for youth with 22 young men, and 18 young women participating; An adult literacy program for men and women; a Home Improvement Project, medical and dental clinics, and the key Central House that was an orphanage, home for abused and needy mothers and children, and home for young men and women in the vocational program. For many years Florencia Rivas, from Cunen, was the supervisor of the home. You see her below.
Several of the students had shown special talent and interest in the medical/dental field and were trained as para-medics manning the clinics at the Central House, and then were sent on foot and horseback into the mountains.
The heart of the Foundations work all these years was the old "haunted house" seen below, where in the beginning only Cordell and his first student, Miguel Angel Ortiz, were willing to sleep. Miguel, after a year learning to drive work vehicles, rope and manage cattle, poultry, hogs, etc. soon became the plantation manager.
The house was cleaned up, fumigated, and painted. The ghosts disappeared and soon the Central House was alive with an incredible array of people. You've seen many of the children in HOW THE FOUNDATION BEGAN. Below are many more.
Top left is the "haunted" Central House. Then Miguel Angel Ortiz branding a new Brown Swiss bull. Then comes the fixed up Central House. On the bottom row, at the left, is seen Maria with several of the Andersen kids, then 4 needy mothers with children who had taken refuge there, and Florencia Rivas, from Cunen--Central House manager for many years.
In the middle is a group of work supervisors, and volunteers. In the middle is Maria del Carmen who managed the Valparaiso Store in Coban. To her left, Maria, and to the right Florencia. On the far right is Dr. Carl Jacob and his wife, Julia. They supervised the educational program and much more for a number of years.
The last picture on the right is a group of 9, mothers and children, from the Pambach Village bedded down in a storage room receiving intensive care. That might sound like a cruel joke, but it was the only place available. Otherwise some would have died.
The Central House, as you can see, evolved into an orphanage, home for needy mothers and their children, teenage vocational students from other areas, youth who had trouble with the law assigned by the local Justice of the Peace to Cordell's care, and volunteers from Guatemala City and the U.S. Through the 70's there normally were around 50 living there, and more at times when storerooms were turned into intensive care units, and brooder rooms converted into isolation areas for patients with tuberculosis.
THE LAMANITE YOUTH CHAMPIONS
In the early years at Valparaiso a soccer field was established as there was a quite active recreation and sports program. Eventually as the youth got better at it a better and more officially sized soccer field was developed. In 1980 Valparaiso was invited to participate in a regional soccer championship. The team called itself, "La Juventud Lamanita," or "The Lamante Youth."
To participate in the tournament they insisted with the organizing committee that they not be required to play on Sunday. The agreement was made.
These young kids were not given much of a chance. For half of the tournament they had help from David Andersen, who was by then finishing high school in Utah and playing on Provo High School's soccer team, but in Guatemala for summer vacation. He had to return to Utah half way through the tournament when he was the leading scorer. His little brother Richard, just 14 years old took his place. The team continued to win and the committee was in a panic, and scheduled them for a Sunday game. The kids held firm to their principles and didn't go. The committee forfeited the game and Valparaiso was enraged.
On Monday morning a large group from Valparaiso went to town to protest the decision. The committee was forced to backtrack, but Valparaiso would have to play a make-up game the next Saturday at 9:00 a.m., but they were already scheduled to play at 11:00 a.m. They requested moving the second game a few hours so they could rest a bit, but the committee wouldn't budge, determined to avoid Valparaiso winning.
The Lamanite Youth won the first game, and 15 minutes later the 2nd game started. Eventually they won that game too, and went on to win 8 straight games without a loss. The Holanda team, led by an ex -professional soccer player from Costa Rica, had also won 8 games. The championship game would be on September 15th, Guatemala's Independence Day.
Prior to the game the Holanda team snickered openly at the kids from Valparaiso, not giving them a chance, but the Lamanite Youth went on to win 2-0 and became the Champions. During the 9 game tournament they scored 38 goals to 3. WOW!
The other big recreational activity at Valparaiso centered on the lake that was created in the beginning--for swimming and for great fishing.
THE GUERRILLA WAR and CHANGE
In 1981 the 30 year long guerrilla war invaded Alta Verapaz and sadly the CID at Valparaiso had to close--but the business continued unimpeded. The family was moved back to Provo, Utah and until 1988 Cordell made more than 50 round-trips dividing his time, two months here--two months there, to keep the family going in Utah, and the business and projects going in Guatemala.
His Indian brothers and sisters were not abandoned as he and the Foundation had already established all of them in their own community, independent of the plantation. The Foundation aided them in many phases of their development, including building 3 homes for widows, providing tin roofing for all, helping construct a potable water system, installing electricity, and from time to time providing emergency services.
All of the children, youth and needy mothers living at the Central House were carefully placed in safe homes.
Cordell and the Foundation continued to help the interested youth further their education in nearby towns. The first of them to graduate was Lic. Do you remember him and his brother Alfonso? Let's insert their photo again--"before" as dirty little barefoot boys, "after"-- 30 minutes later cleaned up, and last as a CPA, and Valparaiso's first professional. If you haven't seen the whole story, go to HOW THE FOUNDATION BEGAN.
For the education of the children a several acre parcel of land was donated to the government for a school. The Foundation provided building materials. The people turned out to do the work and the Valparaiso-Rio Frio School was born and inaugurated with government officials present, along with hundreds of Indians from the area. You see the story in pictures below.
In the upper left the construction begins. It's hard to see, but the hills in the background have mounds which are the "Ruins of the Holy Man." The center picture shows the school guarded on the entire perimeter by the Army with automatic weapons to prevent a guerrilla attack. Over the years the school has been added on to making it more than 4 times what we see here. In Success Stories you can see how it is today clicking on VALPARAISO SCHOOL.
With all this frantic activity in 1981 focus for Foundation projects shifted to the Patzicia area in the Central Highlands. At that time Cordell also became the Field Director for AYUDA, INC., a Utah based altruistic organization headed by Dr. Melvin Lyman and Dr. Harris Done. He managed their projects in Patzicia and Cunen. Soon AYUDA disappeared and the Foundation continued their projects for the next 10 years in Cunen: 10 small neighborhood pre-schools, a dental clinic and building a library as seen below.
Cunen is a small town high in the rough mountains in the area of Cordell's first project, the traveling movie--Cine Chapinlandia. Cunen was one of his 6 towns where he equipped the municipal halls with benches. A few years later AYUDA, Inc. established their projects there with Jim and Aurora Penrod as project managers. In the 80's Cordell was back with a great team of volunteers, Jaime Gamarro and his sister Esperanza, managing the little schools, clinic and library. The youthful teachers in the pre-schools were compensated with a scholarship to continue their studies on the junior high level.
During this period the Patzicia School became the Foundations main project, and still is. For the Success Story click on PATZICIA SCHOOL. In 1983 Ariel Andersen passed away, and his wife, Ines, followed him 3 years later. For her funeral donations to the Foundation were received in lieu of flowers to help construct a school in Guatemala in their honor for their years of sacrifice and devotion to the people. $20,000 was raised and the school was built in the Chuluc Village in the Patzicia Municipality and called "The Ariel and Ines Andersen Chuluc Village School." That wonderful story can be viewed as one of the Success Stories clicking on Ariel and Ines Andersen School. A summary follows that is a page from a calendar the Foundation created a few years ago.
THE FOUNDATION'S WORK AFTER THE FOUNDERS
As described above the guerrilla war made necessary closing the Center for Indian Development at Valparaiso in 1981. Other projects were initiated all around the country, and in 1984 Cordell moved back to Valparaiso.
During those years there had been bloody battles on the plantation between the Army and the guerrillas, but the business had continued profitably. He was in constant contact with the Army and was told that the guerrilla leader in the mountains around Valparaiso was an old friend who he had helped when the leader worked for the Health Department. Said leader had instructed the guerrillas to leave the plantation and Cordell alone because of having treated his workers fairly, and having given so much aid to all the villages in the area.
Back at Valparaiso there never was enough money to restore the Center for Indian Development as it had been in its glory days. Cordell helped the residents organize and establish a thriving pre-school, a large cooperative vegetable garden, and an emergency aid program.
And there was also a lot of cooperation with the community to create a more adequate potable water system, electricity for the entire community and the groundwork was laid for a government Health Center, and Community Hall.
During these years there were scary setbacks.
One was in 1986 when on a Foundation trip for activities in the Patzicia area. On coming back through Guatemala City his new Toyota 4 x 4 pickup was car-jacked at gun point, he scrunched in between a .9mm. pistol and a .38 revolver. They were going to kill him, but he escaped losing everything but the shirt on his back. It was his pickup, but since he was on Foundation business the Trustees decided to replace it, but there were never enough funds to follow through.
Here you see the Toyota pickup that was stolen at gunpoint in 1986. The children are helping load organic material, from mowing the soccer field, to go into compost production for the Cooperative Vegetable Garden.
During the Guerrilla War it was necessary to be armed and organized to patrol the area under the supervision of the Army, especially at night.
From Valparaiso he continued to manage the Foundation's work in all the project areas in cooperation with his old friend, Professor Federico Veliz, who soon officially became the Alta Verapaz volunteer Regional Director. By that time Professor Humberto Xicay was the Regional Director for the Patzicia and Central Highlands area.
In 1991 he and family were ambushed by 3 heavily armed men in olive drab clothing, but with ski masks who moved in just after the civil defense patrol had left the Central House area. They tried to pose as guerrillas with a noble cause, but were part of a highly organized gang with members in every community in Alta Verapaz. Somehow Cordell and his wife maintained their cool, and prevented any drastic action, but did have their guns taken, and all the cash from the business and the Foundation.
Cordell had to drive them back into the mountains. He was warned to not tell the authorities or they would return, kill his family and burn down the Central House. Of course he had to report it asking the police and Army to keep it quiet, but by that evening it was all over the radio, TV and the newspapers the next day. A note came saying they would be killed.
Cordell re-armed, moved the family to an unknown address in Coban, and began standing guard duty every night to prevent the house from being burned down, and hopefully eliminate the gang. By then they had killed 5 people in other ambushes, and Cordell learned that their intentions had been to kill him. However one of the 3, a fellow with oriental eyes who knew Cordell as he had gone to the school built by the Foundation in the Najquitob Village, talked his companions out of it. Eventually they were captured and went to jail.
At the end of 1993 circumstances made necessary the sale of the Valparaiso Plantation, but this did not affect the people who from 1981 lived in their own community on parcels of land they owned. For this story go to:
Very little if any of this would have ever happened if it hadn't of been for Ariel and Ines Andersen, the Foundation, and the many hundreds of persistent donors and volunteers over these more than 42 years. One study even showed that in every family at Valparaiso one of the heads of household, or both were literally saved from sure death in those early years. Without this effort there likely would not exist the Valparaiso Community.