Sep 15, 2021

Saber Sin Limites (Limitless Knowledge) Community Library awarded the 2021 UNESCO Literacy Prize

UNESCO Award

We are thrilled to announce that we were awarded the 2021 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) King Sejong Literacy Prize for our library program “Broadcasting Bilingual Stories: Promoting Interactive Literacy Programming in Rural Guatemala”. We were one of six global laureates to receive the prize in honor of our innovative approach to literacy programming during COVID-19, using the radio, television, and smart phones to engage young learners and minimize learning losses due to the pandemic. Our programs include reading bilingual Spanish and Ixil (the local Mayan language) stories and conducting science lessons and activities on the radio, providing STEM and language lessons on local television, and implementing book clubs on WhatsApp. 

The prize was announced on September 8 for International Literacy Day, and Filipa Lopes, our Operations & Project Development Specialist, accepted the award at an international presentation on September 9. We are honored to have received this prize as we believe that by providing young learners in vulnerable communities with educational and literacy resources—coupled with guidance and role models—small transformations can occur that will have a catalyzing impact on future generations. 

COVID Update 

In the last few months, COVID cases have steeply risen in Chajul, moving the region from yellow to orange to red on the epidemic traffic light system. While we always continue our virtual services such as radio story hour, the circumstances have forced us to at times pause in-person library services. Now that our local staff are fully vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine and we have reinforced COVID prevention measures, including ensuring that everyone who enters the library wears a mask, disinfects their hands, and is practices social distancing, we hope to continuously offer a safe educational environment for learners of all ages. We are currently opening the Saber Sin Limites (Limitless Knowledge) Community Library every weekday for a maximum of 15 youth at a time. 100% of library members reported that the library has helped them to succeed in school during the pandemic.  

While schools have been closed for much of the year, library members can continue to build their literacy and STEM skills through participation in Saber Sin Límites’ virtual and in person activities. They are continuing to enjoy the wide world of reading while waiting for school to start back up. Despite the challenges, the Limitless Horizons Ixil team continues to be steadfast and motivated in supporting the youth of our library.  

Radio Broadcasts

Our librarians continue offering bilingual Spanish-Ixil storybook readings on local community radio. Librarians hear that local families wait for story hour to be on the radio and listen together as a family. Ana Dayana, a library member, says she enjoys radio story hours because she learns new things and can imagine what is unfolding in the story, and she shares this with her little brothers. The librarians also incorporate messages about the importance of education and staying in or going back to school, gender equality, and they encourage community members to visit the library in person.

New Library Team Members

Cecilia Jacinta is an alumnae who was a library fellow in 2015, studied teaching at university of San Carlos, Nebaj, and is now working in the library. She enjoys helping children to do their homework and research, as well as develop their vocabulary. Cecilia is passionate about the library as she believes that providing youth with education benefits the entire community. 

Amelia, one of our bright and promising alumnae, started an Emerging Leaders Fellowship in the library. She is happy to be helping youth in the community with their homework, science, and art activities. Amelia enjoys organizing books and learning how to run a library from head librarian David. She is also eager to soon start a Limitless Horizons Ixil university scholarship to study nursing on the weekends. 

 

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Sep 7, 2021

Our scholars show strength, resilience, and adaptability in turbulent times

COVID-19 update 

Guatemala has recently seen an increase of COVID-19 cases, including the Delta variant. Strict prevention measures remain in place, such as the requirement of wearing masks and avoiding gatherings. The vaccination process is going slowly—Guatemala has one of the slowest vaccination rates in Central America. Reports suggest that there are a lot of inconsistencies regarding how many people and who has been vaccinated, and the government doesn’t know where thousands of vaccine doses are. Much of the budget for vaccines has been spent and only a small portion of what’s been purchased has arrived in the country. However, we are thrilled to report that 100% of our Guatemalan staff have been vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine.

Despite the challenges, the Limitless Horizons Ixil team continues to be steadfast and motivated in helping our scholars especially because of our village of supporters who have made all of our extra COVID-relief services possible.

Virtual schooling continues 

Due to the pandemic, our scholars are currently in Chajul and taking virtual classes. Many went to their high schools outside of Chajul at the start of the school year last winter, but they had to come back due to the high COVID-19 infections in those municipalities. We continue supporting our scholars’ by covering their internet costs, ensuring they can access their classes. 

Limitless Horizons Ixil tutoring 

We are currently providing virtual math and Spanish enrichment classes to our scholars. We offer one hour a week of each class to two cohorts of students, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Our scholars reported in a recent survey that our virtual tutoring support is our service that has helped them the most in their studies. In a recent student survey, students sited that virtual tutoring classes are the LHI service students reported that helped them most to achievement in their studies

Workshops with Wings

Wings, a nonprofit that works in family planning, facilitated several virtual workshops with our scholars on consent, contraceptive methods and sexually transmitted diseases, and healthy relationships. Our parents also benefited from a workshop on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Our female scholars reported that they learned about dignity and now have a better understanding of their rights. They learned to respect their bodies, that they can say no if they don’t want men to touch them, that no means no, and that they have the same rights as men. 

Psychologist services 

Our psychologist led a workshop with all of our scholars on the skills of resilience, decision making, problem solving, thought process, and about friendship. He also calls each scholar to learn how they are doing, what challenges they are facing, and how he and Limitless Horizons Ixil can further support them.

Food and hygiene baskets

We have continued providing monthly food and hygiene baskets to our families. Our families report having more variety and spending less on food and using hygiene products more often to clean and disinfect. Families say that this has helped them the most during these challenging times, as they continue to be severely impacted by the effects of the pandemic, price inflation on staples, and crop loss from last fall’s hurricanes. 

WINGS virtual workshops
WINGS virtual workshops
Distributing our monthly food baskets
Distributing our monthly food baskets

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May 19, 2021

Community library more popular than ever with schools still closed

When the first COVID-19 case was detected in Guatemala in March 2020, it was hard to predict the impact it would have in Guatemala. Unfortunately more than a year later and the pandemic is still very much uncontrolled in Guatemala.

Sadly after the April holiday period COVID-19 cases increased, and the Ixil region was no exception. Most schools in the Ixil region are now closed again. In some cases students are able to receive in person classes once a week in a hybrid model, and are divided in small groups who attend on different days of the week. 

With students unable to attend school there has been an increase in demand for our Saber Sin Limites Community Library. Now that restrictions allow for it to be open again, librarians David and Olga have been opening the library Monday through Friday for four hours each day, two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.A maximum of 10 youth are able to be in the library at a time, and all COVID-19 precautions are being followed. This includes providing hand sanitizer, mandatory use of masks, and making sure social distancing is respected. 

Each hour the group of children is changed so that everyone gets a chance to spend time in the library. We are currently serving an average of 30 to 40 library users per day. Library members benefit from book lending services, book reading and investigations, a place to study and do their homework, and support from the librarians when needed. 

Limitless Horizons Ixil’s librarians have also continued offering bilingual Spanish-Ixil storybook readings on local community radio, which they started doing last year. This is a great way to provide a service for continuing for our library visitors as well as the whole community, and is done every week. 

The increasing demand for activities and support from librarians demonstrates the need for the library, and even more so now with schools closed and students in need of as much support as possible to help them persevere with their education. 

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