Support literacy and learning for 1,900 Maya youth

by Limitless Horizons Ixil
Vetted
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:

Opening a book and opening her world
Opening a book and opening her world

We’re nearing the end of the school year and vacation is around the corner. We are also moving into the winter months, and there is a nip in the air and fires are blazing. Winter vacation is an opportunity to take advantage of our library members’ free time to introduce our month-long Reading Adventures Literacy Programming. Thanks to your generous and crucial support, our library is able to cope with increasing numbers, and implement new and creative ways to encourage literacy and learning.

Reading Adventures started this week and will encourage students to read, develop their vocabulary, and improve their Spanish. It also offers our members a fun and social environment to spend the chilly winter months. The community of Chajul speak the unusual and beautiful language of Ixil. However, it is important that youth learn Spanish for schooling and employment opportunities. Our librarians are all bilingual (or trilingual) and engage students using Spanish and Ixil (and sometimes Quiché). 

Each Monday, the participants are separated by skill level and divided into three rooms with our three librarians. Groups of avid readers read aloud with help and instruction. The librarians have come up with innovative ways to engage library members and facilitate learning. At the ‘wall of words’, children stick new words they have learned under each letter of the alphabet. Our staff also employs animal sound games, dinámicas or ice-breakers, board games, and songs to create a fun and interactive learning environment. 

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be dedicated to this year’s vacation theme: music and dance. This theme will also incorporate creativity, art, and environmental awareness as library users will use recycled materials to create their own instruments.

Our musical menagerie of recycled instruments will include homemade drums, maracas, other makeshift percussion instruments, and flutes. Our multi-talented librarians will give classes to the students on singing, dancing, and instruments. Eduardo Rey, who plays guitar, drums, and flute, and featured prominently in the Independence Day marching band, will instruct the library members on how to play their instruments. Marilú will give classes on a range of different dances including merengue, salsa, bachata, and Zumba. David will be coaching our eager users in singing.

As always, Wednesday will continue with our ever-popular bilingual story hour. Each week per month we rotate different story hour themes: art, theatre, board games, and cultural story hour. Our library users are currently adding colour to a wall mural that depicts a delightful ‘world of books’ that was sketched by a recent volunteer (see pictures!).

This year has been one of growth and our vacation programming is a wonderful example of the services and activities we can provide with this organizational growth. Our three accomplished librarians bring different skills and strengths to the table, and provide individualized attention and support to even more children. Thank you for your continued support in creating a place of creativity and learning in Chajul! 

Literacy Landscapes: Our World of Books
Literacy Landscapes: Our World of Books
Our
Our 'Wall of Words'
Literacy Support
Literacy Support
Reading Circle
Reading Circle

Links:

Librarian Marilu and a beaming Bryan
Librarian Marilu and a beaming Bryan

Thanks to your generous support, the Limitless Horizons Ixil Community Library is at its best and biggest ever! Your contributions enable us to bring lots of stimulating educational resources to our 1,600+ library members! Today we’re excited to share a little about just one of our initiatives.

Every month, our library celebrates a different theme to keep members engaged with fun ideas and topics. Our librarians choose a selection of books related to the theme, and pick a group of gifted artists to decorate a special corner of the library devoted to the monthly theme. So far this year, we have celebrated back-to-school, friendship, religions, teachers, mothers, fathers, and women.  

This month, in the agricultural town of Chajul, we are celebrating gardening! Our library users are learning about planting seeds, putting down compost, the use of chemicals in fertilizer, and how we shouldn’t pick flowers from their natural habitats!

At the start of July, our librarians allowed the users to choose one book from the display, which was read at Story Hour. They then led an engaging discussion on gardening and farming.

For Mateo William Caba Chavez, gardening has been his favorite themes so far. William is 12 years old and comes to the library to learn and read books. His family have a garden at home and he likes to help out by working in it. The most interesting thing that he has learned from this month’s theme is how to plant seeds. We hope William’s seeds grow and he proves to have a green thumb!

Next month, the library members will explore flags from around the world as their theme. They will learn about the flag as a symbol for nations, regions, and religions, and will look at different colors and designs around the world.

Our special themes and the corner of the library devoted to them are one of the many ways we create a welcoming, engaging, and fun environment for our users. And they’re also a useful teaching tool as the library becomes a place for participatory learning! None of this could happen without you, thank you supporting us in planting the seeds of learning for the children of Chajul!

'Gardening Corner'
Our gifted artists!
Our gifted artists!
Making learning fun!
Making learning fun!
A bright display of books
A bright display of books
Our avid learners with Marilu
Our avid learners with Marilu

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Limitless Horizons Ixil

Location: San Gaspar Chajul, El Quiche - Guatemala
Website: http:/​/​www.limitlesshorizonsixil.org
Project Leader:
Marissa Loterina
Chajul, Quiche Guatemala
$26,739 raised of $40,000 goal
 
 
210 donations
$13,261 to go
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