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Limitless Horizons Ixil, Inc.
September 30, 2011

I worked with LHI over two summers, working on their fuel efficient cook stove program while I conducted research for my PhD dissertation. They were not only gracious hosts, but integral members of the community. Every person in the Ixil community that interacts with LHI is impacted in a positive way, and they focus on community members who are in the most need of help. They are limited in the number of people they can help, but they use their money wisely and give donors "more bang for their buck" than any organization I have work with.

LHI's Program Director, Veronica Yat Tiu, and their Executive Director, Katie Morrow work well together and are constantly improving their programs. As a native of Chajul, Veronica is one of LHI's most priceless assets in the community. She is a strong leader in the community, and her work as a professional is a shining example for the many children in Chajul who struggle to afford the costs associated with going to school and just with living. Katie, as a co-founder of LHI, is just as integral, and she started LHI to give scholarships to children who showed promise in school but did not continue past the 8th grade because their families could not afford the costs of tuition.

In the three years since I have been working with LHI, they have established a very strong board, have improved their programs, built a community library, and refined the process for training staff. If they have one weakness, it is the high turnover of staff. This is one of the pitfalls of working in a remote area; it is hard to recruit quality staff for a long commitment, and while the staff members have consistently been stellar, they often only work with LHI for around 18 months. Almost a third of their time is spent being trained or training their replacement. LHI has solved this problem by hiring more local staff, which has had a very positive impact on the community, creating jobs and setting an example of professional service work.

LHI's Work to (L)earn program, or Ganar y Ganar, is a great example of how they work in partnership with the citizens they help serve. Families that receive scholarships have the opportunity to work in several capacities with LHI to create revenue that supports the families and supports LHI's operating costs. Mother's might weave scarves or create other crafts that are sold at fundraisers, generating profits for LHI and the artisan. Father's might be paid by LHI for work labor that supports the community, and students often work in the community on LHI's payroll, supporting programs such as the library and after school tutoring.

One of LHI's greatest strengths is their ability to work with diverse groups that travel to Chajul to volunteer or conduct research. In addition to conducting my research, I worked with LHI to hold workshops for teachers and teach students skills to become Spanish / Ixil interpreters. LHI also works with visiting volunteers (from Universities and other organizations) to complete service projects that improve the quality of life of Chajul's citizens. Volunteers work in partnership with LHI and have the opportunity to contribute to areas in which they have an interest.

I cannot stress enough how every penny used by LHI improves the lives of community members, and how community members don't simply receive money, but work in partnership with LHI to improve their community through hard work and well designed programs.

MY ROLE:
Professional with expertise in this field