In the late 1960s, former missionaries who had served in Guatemala determined to alleviate the impact of the abject poverty they had witnessed throughout the country. In 1967 Cordell Andersen and his wife, Maria, sold their home in Utah and drove with their four children to Cobán. Andersen purchased a small farm, where he provided employment, medical treatment, hygiene training, and disease prevention education. Andersen later purchased a large dairy called Valparaiso, where they established elementary and trade schools and built new, clean homes for local people. Daniel Choc, son of Pablo Choc, received training at Valparaiso. At Daniel’s suggestion, the program was formalized as the Center for Indian Development, commonly called El CID.
With the help of Rafael Castillo Valdez, a member of the Church and a delegate to the Guatemalan Congress, Ayuda, a nondenominational group of Utah doctors, established a medical clinic in Cunén in April 1969. In the early 1970s, Ayuda began establishing schools in rural areas, providing primary and secondary education to underserved populations. In 1981, during the Guatemalan Civil War, Cordell Andersen worked as field director for Ayuda until the organization was dissolved in 1982.
Known today as the Guatemalan Foundation, the program has actively provided education, vocational training, and medical assistance to the rural poor of Guatemala for more than 50 years. Students from Guatemalan Foundation schools have become doctors, lawyers, teachers, and clergy for various faiths.