Apr 25, 2014

An Oasis of Learning

Hard at work on homework!
Hard at work on homework!

The following is a postcard from Lydia Sorensen, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Guatemala, about her recent visit to Limitless Horizons Ixil

Walking into the Saber Sin Límites Community Library in Chajul, we are immediately greeted with hearty “buenos dias” by a giggling trio of kids clutching library cards. Behind them Marilu (one of the three librarians, all of whom are former scholarship recipients) is working with an older group of girls on a school project. All heads are bent together over the table as they carefully copy out a quote on morales (morals) unto a piece of yellow posterboard. The Chajul library isn’t just a place for children and students though, the whole community is able to take advantage of the safe and quiet space for learning.

Places like the library are scarce not just in Chajul but in Guatemala as a whole (the Chajul library is the only one in the Ixil triangle). Marilu explains that they encourage the children and the community to take ownership of the library and feel proud of it. Users receive a library card (and through it access to the library) for only 7 Quetzales a year (less than one US Dollar). They come to the library to do research or school projects (most live in houses that consist of only one room and are often filled with as many as fourteen or fifteen other families members), to use the free internet (almost none have internet at home), read a book, or participate in one of the library’s many programs. One such program is the history story program, where elders in the community to come and tell stories from their childhood (it’s very well attended).

Two young girls in traditional Maya dress (red cortes and blue huipiles) sit at a table in the children’s corner looking over a picture book while taking a break from homework. Outside its market day and the streets are noisy with people selling their products. Inside the Saber Sin Limites Library however the atmosphere is peaceful as Marilu works with the older students to put the finishing touches on their poster before school and boys quietly draw in the back room, an oasis of reading and exploring in the hectic town of Chajul.

Marilu helping with a presentation
Marilu helping with a presentation
Mar 18, 2014

An update a former scholar and the newest member of our team!

Our new librarian and former scholar, David
Our new librarian and former scholar, David

Dear supporters,

Today we’d like update you on the progress of one of our highly successful scholars from Limitless Horizons Ixil’s Youth Development Program. Thanks to your generous contributions, our program continues to empower the youth of Chajul to improve their lives and better their community.

David Imul Calel graduated from high school and our program a few months ago and has just been hired as one of two new librarians for our Saber Sin Límites (Limitless Knowledge) Community Library. David encapsulates both the impact of our program but also our hopes for the long-term effect of our work in his position as a leader, a role model, and a change-maker in Chajul. To fully appreciate David’s successes, let’s reflect on the circumstances from which he emerged. 

Like most of our youth, David is a product of the Ixil region’s long and complex history of genocide, war, and displacement. His parents fled their village during the Guatemalan Civil War, losing their home, land, and farming equipment. They lived in hiding in the mountains before settling in Chajul. David has 12 siblings, though only eight are alive today.

There were many times David thought he would have to give up his education in order to farm his family’s corn plot. But thanks to your support of our program, David was able to graduate, and is now a professional and a leader in his community. For the first time, David says that he is proud to contribute to his family’s income. David’s progress hasn’t stopped—on the weekends he also studies agronomy in university in the nearby town of Nebaj.

“Chajul needs me,” David responds when asked if he plans to live in the village in the future. He believes he has a responsibility to act as an example of what you can achieve with optimism and hard work. He hopes that with his agronomy degree he will be able to contribute to the development of Chajul and tackle problems related to health, malnutrition, and food access.

David shows how our programs can help achieve long-term, sustainable change within the community of Chajul. LHI’s goal is that our education-focused programs will have a ripple effect and effect change not only directly in education, but in other areas, like health and agriculture, where Chajul needs support.

In David's role as a librarian, he is proud to have the opportunity to bestow upon our young readers his conviction—that hard work and self-belief can lead to real progress. Thank you for your belief in David and the rest of our youth.

Kind regards,

Alice Stevens

On behalf of the LHI team

David, when he was just starting with our program
David, when he was just starting with our program
Director Katie with our two new librarians
Director Katie with our two new librarians

Links:

Mar 14, 2014

A day of festivities and fun in celebration of literacy!

Belmont students with some of our library users
Belmont students with some of our library users

Dear supporters,

A warm greeting from Chajul where our library continues to flourish thanks to your support!

Last week, to celebrate the now 1,400+ members of our Saber Sin Límites (Limitless Knowledge) Community Library, Limitless Horizons Ixil threw a party for all, a fiesta de carnets (library card party). With the help of visiting volunteers from Belmont University in Tennessee and our committed librarians, we organized an afternoon of games, stories, theatrics, and snacks for our growing community of booklovers.

Our hope was that the fiesta de carnets would both celebrate literacy and attract new members, and would also be a fun a cultural exchange between the students from Belmont and the kids of Chajul.

The day kicked off with a reading of Where the Wild Things Are (in Spanish!), complete with a riveting reenactment of the story. The kids were simultaneously thrilled and terrified by the ‘monsters’ from Belmont. Our enthusiastic and inspired volunteers then set up six stations offering a range of games including basketball, duck-duck-goose, musical chairs, hopscotch, jump rope, and dodge ball. We divided the kids into groups and rotated them through.

The room echoed with delighted shrieks and competitive yells for the next hour as both groups threw themselves into the activities. The day ended with cookies and atol de arroz con chocolate (a traditional hot drink made from rice and chocolate) for our tired volunteers and delighted Chajulense library members.

The fiesta de carnets was first and foremost a celebration of literacy. Like our ‘Reading Adventures’ initiative we described last time, the party was an opportunity to reward our library users and cultivate a positive correlation between reading, study, and communal enjoyment. We strive to create a community within our library by establishing a network of readers who support each other and who can learn and play together. This helps attract new members and also gives our current users an appreciation for education, for reading, and for shared learning and growth.

Thanks to your support, our library continues as a center of learning and community involvement in Chajul. We will continue to keep you updated on our exciting activities and developments in the coming months.

Warm regards,

Alice Stevens

On behalf of the LHI team

The hall was decorated with streamers and balloons
The hall was decorated with streamers and balloons
Jump rope was popular with the kids!
Jump rope was popular with the kids!
It was a day of laughter and merriment!
It was a day of laughter and merriment!

Links:

 
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