I have had the delight of working with an excellent NGO in Chajul, Guatemala by the name of Limitless Horizons Ixil.
This is a wonderful group of people from both the town of Chajul (whose first high school student graduated only in 1999) and the United States whose mission is to support Middle school age yoputh on through high school and hopefully college through the financial support from others more fortunate.
The education in Chajul is struggling to be at at a national level (Less than 1% of children graduate from high school, 5% from middle school and 75% of the adult population are illiterate). LHI is providing additional traditional and technological education for these promising students in hopes that they will be able to pass the entrance exams into the universities and eventually bring their skills back to Chajul to benefit the community as a whole. They may very well be some of the very first indigenous Maya Ixiles to actually work their way through the university system.
In addition to education, the group encourages their students to participate in local community projects which currently include organic gardening, helping to build school facilities, and introducing and encouraging the use of efficient, smoke-free stoves. Mayans have a very strong affinity for fire, viewing fire as the breathe of life. They typically have open pit fires in their homes which consume a great deal of wood and are quite smokey. While the spiritual aspect for fire is very strong, the smoke causees numerous and significant health challenges including ongoing serious lung and eye infections. In addition, many families and especially children have to walk miles each day in order to find sufficient wood to fuel the fire, making it impossible for them to attend school and other perhaps more productive activities. The students and their families are helping to subsidize for the payment of a stove which helps to ensure “buy-in for using the stove.
LHI has just finished their enrolment of new scholars and have just found sufficient funds for those students. Click here to see last years student roll and who sponsored them. Now they are hoping to raise funds for their ongoing projects. In addition, LHI also has volunteer opportunities for those who are ready to live and work in a very unique, indigenous and rich environment. Chajul is one of the most traditional indigenous Maya communities in Guatemala with an incredibly rich, and at times horrific history.
I have many long term friends there who are anxious and excited about sharing their lives with others. LHI is one way for volunteers to do that. unfortunaltely, Mundo Exchange is only able to be there every 4 months or so. Mundo’s projects are currently oriented toward mental health, the support of CEMIK, a Maya Ixil school teaching traditional Maya culture and literacy to youngsters, as well as supporting individual students who live primarily outside of Chajul and have to attend boarding schools. Mundo is also working within the remote town of Pal, working with local constituents to figure out how to bring a higher quality of education to those students, as well as to find funds so that the school can provide educational opportunities to students beyond the 5th grade, which is their current capacity.
We hope to coordinate with LHI to further their objectives and let their good work be known so that quality educational opportunities will be available to local students.
If you would like to assist Limitless Horizons Ixil please visit their website and see the good work they do first-hand.