Support literacy and learning for 1,900 Maya youth

by Limitless Horizons Ixil
One of our members during Reading Adventures
One of our members during Reading Adventures

2015 was a fantastic year for our Saber Sin Límites library, thanks in great part to your support! We are busy throughout the year with various activities for the Chajul community and want to use this opportunity to share with you highlights and stats from the past year. In total, the library now has 1,893 users with 467 newly registered in 2015 and is currently home to 4,057 different book titles, 773 which are new this year! The library received about 100 visits per month, most commonly for academic support, reading club, story hour, and art. Here are some highlights about a range of facets in our library programming!

New Lending Services: As we reported earlier in 2015, we decided to initiate a lending program this year, currently open to participants in our Youth Development Program. We had 31 registered members taking advantage of the program this past year, and we hope to expand the lending program to the entire community in the near future.

Reading Adventures Vacation Programming: The Guatemalan school year ends in October, so we recently hosted our annual vacation programming with engaging daily activities, including story hours, book-creation activities, dance classes, and recorder lasses. The library members enjoyed themselves and were excited to learn new things in a fun, engaging environment. Librarians, interns, and library members hosted a concluding celebration and invited Chajul community members to see performances and participate in games.

Fiestas de Carnets (Library Card Celebrations): We held two of these events in 2015 to promote a special we offered for library cards—2 for the price of 1 (at approximately $1 a card, the nominal fee charged that encourages responsibility and buy-in). The celebrations included almost 100 people, with activities including face painting, musical chairs, create-a-book, LEGO building, jump roping, hopscotch, and Frisbee.

Cultural Story Hours: We held a total of 22 cultural story hours in 2015, held in two sessions on one day a month. For these events, an elder of the community comes to share a story from the Ixil culture as a way for children and teens to learn the history of their community thus helping to preserve Ixil culture.

Story Hours: This year we hosted 76 story hours (twice a day on Wednesdays) with each including an activity such as art, games, or skits with the goal of strengthening children’s imaginations and helping them expand their vocabularies! A total of 1,556 people attended story hours in 2015, mostly younger children between the ages of 5 and 12.

Reading Clubs: We hosted 98 hours of reading club with a total of 840 participants in 2015! The youth have been working on improving their reading comprehension, writing, and reading abilities.

Without supporters like you, our work and successes would not be possible. Thank you for your continued support. As 2016 begins, we hope to expand our programs and continue to implement new activities. We send you gratitude and warm wishes from Chajul!

Two members reading at the library
Two members reading at the library
Our librarian David leading story hour
Our librarian David leading story hour
One of our younger members reading a book
One of our younger members reading a book
Members waiting for an activity to start
Members waiting for an activity to start
Participating in art activities
Participating in art activities

In September, we had the great opportunity to host Brandie and Elizabeth, two librarians from Librarians Without Borders who came to visit from Portland, Maine! We were so thrilled to learn from them, share ideas and experiences and show them our Saber Sín Límites Community Library!

Librarians Without Borders is another non-profit organization, with a mission to "build sustainable libraries and support their custodians and advocates—librarians." They have been long-time supporters of Limitless Horizons Ixil, and have sent visitors multiple times to support the work we’re implementing for our Chajulense library members.

Elizabeth and Brandie were immediately impressed by their first day at the library with our two librarians Marilú and David, and our two library interns Ana and Cecilia Jacinta. The visitors noted that it is a great space with a wide range of books, and that our librarians are doing a terrific job! "They don't even need our help, they are experts and great librarians!" even joked Brandie. But of course that isn’t true, and throughout the week, Brandie and Elizabeth met with the library staff to offer their wisdom, insights, and experience.

Everyone got together to discuss some of the challenges our library in Chajul faces, and Elizabeth and Brandie shared ideas for engaging activities and how to best support the library members and the development of literacy for Chajul’s youth. Our visitors also participated in activities with the library members including story hour, reading club, and art activities and saw first-hand how exciting and fun library activities are for our members!

We were so thrilled to have two professional librarians offer their guidance to our library in Chajul, and to have their support for the work already underway—which has only been possible thanks to your contributions. Our Saber Sin Límites Community Library would not be where it is today, with such successful programs and opportunities to host international visitors, without YOU. Our amazing library space, books and art materials, and strong library staff have been made possible by you and your fellow Limitless Horizons Ixil supporters. Thanks to your continued support, we will be able to even further develop our library with increased partnerships with organizations like Librarians Without Borders and additional resources to support literacy in Chajul!

Participating in the story hour
Participating in the story hour
Playing Legos
Playing Legos
Cecilia Jacinta at work
Cecilia Jacinta at work

“I started working in the Saber Sin Límites community library in March. Thanks to Limitless Horizons Ixil, I have the opportunity to work with the children and learn from the librarians. My experience has been so great so far! I learned about how to sort books—I did not know about that or how to do it before. For instance, each book has a different tag and they are classified in alphabetical order. I am very grateful to the librarians for teaching me so well and supporting me as I learn.

The library is great space for children and youth of Chajul. We have members from different ages and different schools, and they all come to the library for different reasons. The library is separated in three different areas—the children's area is dedicated to the members who are less than six years old, the research area is where older members can do research for their homework, and the study area is where students of all ages can study or read in a quiet space. I have learned that the library has specific rules and a way of functioning. The members greet the librarians when they come in, and they must be polite and respectful of other children and the books. The library members also wear color-coded tags to help them focus and respect the guidelines of the different library spaces and activities. They wear a green tag if they are going to the research area, a blue tag if they are going to read, and a red tag if they are going to draw—and this helps me and the others who work in the library to best support them in their chosen activity as well!

What I like the most about my internship at the library is that I have the opportunity to help children learn how to read and support them throughout their education. It is a great feeling to meet children who do not know how to read when they first come in the library and then to support and to see their reading skills progress thanks to our support and help.”

This is a first-hand account from one of the four Limitless Horizons Ixil high school graduates now participating in our pilot Internship and Training Initiative, translated by Léa Valenti, International Coordinator. Cecilia Jacinta is one of the two Saber Sin Límites library interns who are providing crucial support to the children and youth who rely on the library’s services, while she also gains professional mentorship and skill development for herself provided by Limitless Horizons Ixil staff. We are so proud to see how far Cecilia Jacinta has come since she first started as a middle school student with Limitless Horizons Ixil seven years ago, and to see how great a role model she is for the children and youth of Chajul!

Helping younger members how to read
Helping younger members how to read
Reading a book to a library member
Reading a book to a library member
Ana and her favorite book
Ana and her favorite book

As the first and only one of its kind in Chajul, the community library is creating new precedents with its literacy initiatives and through the provision of crucial educational resources. Thanks to your continued support, we are piloting a new book lending system for Limitless Horizons Ixil scholars and their peers at San Gaspar middle school. 

Since the beginning of March, eligible library members have been able to borrow up to a book a week from our diverse collection of lending materials. Our librarians partnered with the teachers at San Gaspar to describe how the lending system works to their students. Book lending is a new concept in Chajul, and it was important to explain this exciting new opportunity to be able to bring books home. Our librarian David is excited about the new system and believes that this resource is important as it teaches the beneficiaries to be responsible for the book, to make sure it does not get damaged or lost. Moreover, it also creates a habit of reading outside of the library and in member’s homes. This trailblazing initiative is an important tenet of Limitless Horizons Ixil’s holistic model, which seeks to create community-wide change and develop a culture of literacy that will benefit not only individual library users but also their parents and siblings!

Ana, one of our interns at the library, has already borrowed three books thanks to the lending system. She thinks it is an excellent new project because she can now continue reading long books into the evenings (she particularly loves tales of adventure) and can read stories to her parents and siblings at home. This is an important resource for Ana’s family since her mother is illiterate, and she has three young siblings who are at a crucial stage of learning. She is very excited to be able to read even more and hopes the lending system will be fully implemented soon!

We hope that the lending system pilot will be a success so we can offer it to all the library's members. A number of library members have inquired about bringing books home and seem eager to continue reading outside of the library. Introducing a lending system requires patience as we develop an understanding of the responsibilities of borrowing and returning books among library members. Fostering an environment of reading outside of the walls of the library may take time and needs to overcome cultural perceptions around education and gender roles. As David explains, boys in the community, who spend most of their time working in the fields or playing outside, may consider reading to be a feminine activity.  

Thanks to your support we can count on the great work of our librarians to educate our library members and introduce excited and innovative ways to capture their interest! We hope all of the children in our library will be able to borrow books soon and read more!

Reading an enthralling book
Reading an enthralling book
Reading together is more fun!
Reading together is more fun!
Learning how to read with friends
Learning how to read with friends

Links:

Meet Sonia!
Meet Sonia!

When you walk into the Saber Sin Límites (Limitless Knowledge) Community Library in Chajul, there is a very good chance you’ll see Sonia. From playing board games and learning how to play the flute, to singing songs and reading, Sonia can usually be found in the thick of the action!

At 7 years old, Sonia is young for her grade, having just started her 3rd year of elementary school. She comes to the library, she tells us, because she feels at home there. She first stopped by because her mother encouraged her to become a library member. She soon found her own reasons to stay.

The Limitless Horizons Ixil librarians are very fond of Sonia as she's one of library’s most engaged and helpful members. Librarians David and Marilú value her sweet nature, good behavior, and participation in all their activities. During the school year, she comes once a day in the afternoon, because she has class in the mornings. Over school vacation from October to December, Sonia happily came twice each day, taking advantage of all the exciting activities of our Reading Adventures vacation literacy program.

Sonia's favorite activity during Reading Adventures was learning how to play the flute. She was enthralled by the sounds she learned to produce and was excited to perform in the talent show that the library members hosted at the end of the school break.

Sonia is a voracious reader. She takes full advantage of our 7,000 book collection and tries to read as often as possible, averaging 3-4 books per month! Her favorite books are from the series El Sembrador (The Planter), a compilation of stories that each teach an important lesson. Sonia also benefits from the reading support provided by our two librarians. She says her reading has greatly improved from the extra help and she is always excited to see her fellow library members learning to read or improving their reading skills.

For such a dedicated young library member, it's initially surprising that Sonia is the only one in her family with five children to take advantage of this community resource. But she is the second youngest and her older siblings are all busy working around the house or looking for work to support the family. Sonia is working on getting her younger brother to come to the library with her too.

Sonia says she used to have friends that came to the library with her, but they have stopped coming as frequently because of their responsibilities at home. She often encourages them to come and even spoke to their mothers about it recently.

We are so inspired to have such a young advocate for our community library, and thankful to you, our generous supporters, who make this all possible for Sonia and her fellow readers! 

A musical prodigy
A musical prodigy
Welcome to
Welcome to 'Limitless Knowledge'
Letters and Learning
Letters and Learning
Our library advocate!
Our library advocate!

Links:

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Organization Information

Limitless Horizons Ixil

Location: Roslindale, El Quiche - Guatemala
Website: http:/​/​www.limitlesshorizonsixil.org
Project Leader:
Marissa Loterina
Chajul, Quiche Guatemala
$26,489 raised of $40,000 goal
 
208 donations
$13,511 to go
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