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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Limitless Horizons Ixil, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Economic Development, Education, Microfinance, Rural Economic Development, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Limitless Horizons Ixil creates opportunities for the indigenous youth, women, and families of Chajul, Guatemala, to develop the academic and professional skills needed to effect change in their lives and community.

Target demographics: indigenous youth, women, and families

Direct beneficiaries per year: 60 Ixil Maya youth to continue their education and participate in youth development activities, as well as nearly 1,600 registered library members.

Geographic areas served: Chajul, Quiché, Guatemala

Programs: a Youth Development Program incorporating a wide array of personal and academic support services, and the first and only public library in Chajul.

Community Stories

28 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

First i will like to say Thank You to the staff at LHI for taking the time out and showing me the community of Chajul. Being on this trip allow me to try new things and see the world in another way. Staying in Chajul gave me the opportunity to experience the lifestyle that many of the people there live. i was able to try their food, wear their traditional clothes, learn the native language , and help build a wall in one of the schools. The time that I spent there made me appreciate the little things like making the kids smile, one of my favorite thing that I did on the trip was the reading/ game workshop. That was my favorite thing because I was able to bond with the kids and see them build the solar system puzzle together. It was a fun moment for me and I will always remember it. Thank you once again LHI for an amazing experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent a week in Chajul volunteering with LHI, so I saw first hand the tremendous impact LHI has on the community. The leadership has a very clear vision that is community-driven, sustainable, and purposeful. The dedication of the local staff had a particular impact on me and I was inspired by their commitment to LHI and it students. LHI is truly a fantastic organization and is doing what is says it does.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Limitless Horizons Ixil embodies its commitment to work for Chajul by working with Chajul. After two years as a staff member and one year as a board member, I continue to be impressed by the incredible work the organization does. Even more important is how LHI does it's work - always under the leadership of our Guatemalan staff members. LHI is a community-driven organization impacting the entire community of Chajul.

Andy28

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LHI is an incredible organization and does fantastic work with and for the community of Chajul. I believe that much of their success is a result of strong and invested leadership as well as collaboration with the citizens of this town. This buy-in yields sustainability and that makes me all the more eager to support LHI socially/physically when in Guatemala, and fiscally when I am not.

Board Member

Rating: 5

This organization embodies the principles of mindful, community-driven sustainable development. As a Board member, I have seen the organization grow over the course of the past five years, reaching more and more people and becoming locally lead. One of the things that makes LHI stand out is its concept of growth.The team on the ground continually strives to work better and achieve more impact, but the ultimate focus is on providing programs and services that really make a difference, rather than on growth for its own sake.

LHI is composed of passionate, committed individuals who think critically and creatively about how to make a real difference in Chajul. This has led to uniquely integrated programming. It is a pleasure to be involved with an organization that is not only changing lives and the face of a community, but doing so in a way that is lasting, in alignment with and sensitive to the community's values.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I spent over a year in Chajul working with LHI as their Operations Associate and it was an amazing experience. Nothing compares to the pure dedication of it's local staff and board of directors, who made it an honor to a part of the team and welcomed in to the LHI family. I have seen first hand the passion and hard work that makes each and every one of their programs a project of the heart, and the manner in which they have empowered their majority-female Chajulense staff to drive this organization is a standard to which few non-profits could compare.

LHI takes the personal struggles of its scholars and library users to heart every day and its commitment to making the world a better place for these youth. The cost of sponsoring a scholar could never quantify the positive change that happens for these kids throughout 6-years of involvement with an organization like this.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering with Limitless Horizons Ixil has been a wonderful experience where I have had the opportunity to meet and work with the passionate and committed staff. It has been great to see how the scholarship recipients and staff members have created a supportive and caring community that is positively influencing Chajul. The staff at LHI have been warm and helpful and I have really felt welcomed into Nebaj and Chajul life. It has been a pleasure volunteering with LHI and I look forward to working with them in the future.

Donor

Rating: 5

I just returned from Chajul where I had the privilege of meeting with the LHI staff and observing the fruits of their dedicated work. Three things stand out for me: the mutual ease and respect between the staff and scholarship students, the hard work and imagination in setting up and managing the wonderful library and LHI's commitment to a better future for the children. There were three highlights for me: visiting the library, participating in a weaving class and experiencing the gracious hospitality of a local family. I am excited and happy to be able to sponsor a child and in doing so becoming a member of the LHI community.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have just returned from Guatemala, where I visited the Limitless Horizons office in Chajul. I was very impressed. The competence, warmth, and dedication of the staff were apparent from the moment I arrived, and I like how the organization depends primarily on local people to manage the services they provide. In both the office and the library, it is evident that those meant to benefit - mostly children when I was there - are engaged and appreciative of the opportunity and support created by LHI. As a new donor, I was also privileged to meet the young student that my wife and I will sponsor, and to see how well LHI staff have shaped the expectations and sense of responsibility of those they select to support. There is no condescension - it really feels as if all are working together to improve the quality of life of the community, a feeling that was reinforced by visits to two local families, for a meal and a hands-on lesson in weaving. I had high expectations traveling to Chajul - but they were far exceeded by the experience of seeing what a difference LHI is making in a part of the world that needs just this sort of support in order to begin to realize its potential.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LHI does great work in Chajul. Their staff are committed and professional. Helping with their programs was interesting, educational, and rewarding.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I discovered LHI when I was looking for places to volunteer in Central and South America, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to spend 6-1/2 weeks with them in November and December of 2013. LHI is comprised of local (Chajul and Nebaj) and US staff, and they are a deeply committed, smart, hard-working, passionate, close-knit, generous and funny team of people. During my time with LHI, I got to experience first-hand how thoughtful they are about the development of their program and the realization of their organization's goals. They make excellent use of their resources. Their support is critical for the scholarship recipients who, without LHI's support, would be e.g., working in the fields or washing laundry for a living instead of attending school. (I know this because i had the opportunity to interview most of the 50+ scholarship recipients.) The families of scholarship recipients are likewise supported in a variety of ways, so LHI's impact ripples far out into the community. The library that is run by LHI is a buzzing hub of happiness for the children of Chajul, who show up excited to read, draw, go on library-sponsored local outings, do handcraft activities, etc. LHI is doing important, culturally respectful, meaningful work to help Chajul lift itself out of poverty, under-education, and limited opportunities. I recommend it as an organization to support, and as a place to volunteer.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a donor for 3 years now. I started supporting the organization when I found out from a friend about how great the need is in the community they support as well as how passionately, diligently, and mindfully their staff team works. I know that donating to LHI means that my money is going directly to educating and raising youth leaders that will lift their community up by its bootstraps.

Donor

Rating: 5

We have been donating to LHI for years. In fact, donating to LHI was our wedding registry in lieu of gifts to us. We have been very impressed with LHI's steadily increasing impact for a deserving community, as well as its efficient use of capital. The staff are brilliant, passionate and hardworking.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've been developing a relationship with Chajul, and the smaller school of CEMIK, for 10 years. I teach Spanish in Portland, Oregon and my students have corresponded with Chajulenses for years. Four years ago, we mounted a global trip with high school students and found Limitless Horizons during the research phases. We were seeking an organization that worked in a culturally-sensitive and respectful manner with the community, one comprised of members of the community and extranjeros. LHI proved to be a model NGO in this regard. After two student trips, my community is blown-away by the thoughtful and sustainable community development being carried out between LHI and the community of Chajul. As Director of Global Education at Catlin Gabel School, I can't be more emphatic in my praise for what, and how, LHI does for the genesis of the Ixil community of Chajul and neighboring aldeas. Sincerely, Spencer White

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the opportunity to visit with Limitless Horizons for about a week in Chajul while I was on vacation in Guatemala, and I was absolutely blown away by the work that they do and the amount of positive impact they have on the community there. Our group visited with several local families in their homes while we were there -- either to have lunch with them or, on one occasion, to learn the art of weaving -- and while these were amazing experiences for me personally, I also gained a firsthand look at the impoverished living conditions of the Ixil people and the great work that LHI does to help improve them. It was striking to see that the families live without even the most basic necessities for a healthy lifestyle, such as clean running water. But I remember particularly that most families cook their food over open fires on the floors of their homes, and the resulting smoke is an enormous health hazard to them. It turns out that most families are not even aware of this issue, since using an open fire is how things have always been done in Chajul. So LHI has a great program to combat this issue: not only do they teach and provide information to the community about these health hazards, but they also provide access to healthy and low-cost stove systems. They will even arrange for the installation! This program, along with many others like it, have huge positive impacts on the living conditions and lifestyles of the Chajulense people, and I was able to see how much these families really enjoyed and appreciated having LHI's help and support.

But I was most blown away by LHI's huge contribution in education and youth development. LHI provides scholarships for the local youth to attend school as well as providing mentoring and tutoring programs. LHI has created itself a classroom, a library, and a small computer room attached to its office, so while I was volunteering there I saw many children come and go, doing their homework, having lessons, etc. It was obvious to me that LHI has created enormous learning opportunities -- and ultimately career opportunities -- for these children where there were none before, which will have a huge impact on their lives, and the children were absolutely thrilled to be taking part in it. Chajul's first public library, founded by LHI, has quickly become a bustling community center of sorts for the youth, and LHI even organizes regular field days for the kids. (They kicked my butt in soccer.) Overall, LHI has lit an extraordinarily bright light in the lives of these children which will have lasting and far-reaching positive effects not only for the children but for the entire community. Lastly I want to mention how devoted and caring the LHI staff was. It was heartwarming to see just how much of themselves they pour into the Chajul community. They touch the lives of these families and develop close personal relationships with them, and the true reward for them is that they are able to see the positive differences that they make. They are truly motivated by a passion to help better the lives of those who are less fortunate. Please endorse Limitless Horizons Ixil and help them continue to bring positive change for Chajul and the Ixil region.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Limitless Horizons Ixil is a wonderful organization that provided me with the opportunity to make a difference in the community of Chajul, Guatemala. The organization's staff and volunteers care deeply about youth and families they serve. I was particularly impressed by the depth of involvement of LHI in ensuring each student's academic success. Rather than simply giving out scholarships, LHI, recognizing the obstacles that the recipients face, offers intensive Spanish classes, computer training, and community-building activities. LHI's public library, where I volunteered during my time in Guatemala, is a particularly wonderful resource for the community. I saw firsthand how much the children and adults enjoy the wealth of resources available for them in the library. As a teacher, I know how important access to books is in a child's development of literacy, and LHI's expanding public library is helping children in the Ixil region gain literacy skills every day.

Jason23

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I began working with Katie and Pedro in 2008. I could see that they were strong leaders- eager learners, dedicated humanitarians, good thinkers, smart spenders. They kept the long-term self-sufficiency of Chajul families at the center of their work. They weren’t in the NGO business to put their stamp on a place and leave. They weren’t about charity—taking funds from the first world and turning it into ‘handouts for the poor.’ No, LHI was, and still is, a vehicle for opportunity for Chajul children and families to make changes in their own lives and in their communities.

When I last visited Chajul, there were visible signs of progress: LHI had become a community center, where youth and families went to hang out, access educational materials, ask for help, and volunteer. LHI’s local program director had built the confidence to lead a group of women in a voice activity organized by Mothers Acting Up. Cecilia Jacinta, the young woman my mother sponsors, had grown from a near-silent 7th grade student to a confident, smart, funny, hopeful 9th grader eager to show me her 2-room adobe home, introduce me to her family, feed me her delicious boxbol, and act in LHI’s first play—a social commentary of life with an open cooking fire contrasted with life with a safe stove.

There were signs of attitudinal changes; LHI’s work helped people value other vegetables besides corn, which will contribute to the battle against malnutrition. LHI helped parents to see the value in sending their children to school in a community when most children stop schooling after primary school. There was a sense of community and trust among LHI’s growing population of scholarship students and families that came from different religious and political viewpoints.

Today, LHI is reaching more of the community than ever, with its new expanded library, full of eager students every day, who are trying to position themselves to do well in school and launch sustainable careers.

In the last six years, LHI has:
1. Supported six girls from 7th through their 12th grade graduation in a community where only 1% graduate from high school. These girls are proud to graduate this October; they would not have attended and succeeded in these upper grades without LHI’s financial, emotional, and academic support.
2. Increased the number of students served each year from 10 students in 2005 to 85 students in 2011 through our scholarship program alone, increasing the number of students graduating from middle school each year.
3. Brought new services and programs to town: intensive Spanish classes, student work-study opportunities, tutoring, family gardens, safe stoves, Story Hour, teacher workshops, career panels, and many more.
4. Opened Chajul’s first public library, expanded it due to high demand, and registered over 600 users.
5. Created local employment for four full-time local employees, two part-time employees, and work-study opportunities for youth.
6. Reduced the number of dropouts due to marriage and childbirth within our scholarship program to ZERO.

LHI has accomplished all this efficiently (with an annual budget less than the average lawyer’s annual salary) and sustainably (community members have both leadership and skin in the game) in the rural, indigenous community of Chajul, Guatemala.

LHI is different from most international aid organizations, as it is embedded in and driven by the community itself. It has been an honor to serve as a board member of LHI. I have learned so much from Katie and Pedro, and feel that every hour and dollar I spend in support of LHI translates to important, life-changing work.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working in Chajul alongside Limitless Horizons Ixil as the Community Advocate for Philanthropiece for the past year and am continually impressed by the leadership, activism, and, most importantly, compassion that this organization brings to all of the projects and programs that they have thus far initiated in the community. For the last several years, LHI has been able to garner the trust of the community and, in turn, provide a wide range of needed services to a very under-served population. Both the local and international staff are a pleasure to work with and, even though my time in Chajul is almost up, I am really looking forward to keeping in contact and seeing the LHI scholarship students, and LHI itself, continue to grow and succeed in the future!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I have been volunteering with Limitless Horizons Ixil (LHI) for almost 2 months. I was interested in this organization because of the work they do, connecting indigenous Mayan youth with educational opportunities. I have had a great experience so far. Everyone on the team (local and international staff) has been welcoming, and supportive of my goals in studying Spanish in addition to wanting to contribute to the organization. Volunteering in this role has been really interesting, I have gotten to participate in a wide range of tasks; from painting at the library with the students to translating to photographing crafts. Its been a good balance of my skills and their needs.
Overall, the thing that has impressed me most is the dedication of the staff to see these students, and in turn this community, succeed. Currently serving approximately 85 students, LHI seems on the brink of expansion in the future. Easily a worthwhile organization to connect
with and donate to; I can see firsthand how the money is well spent. Education is changing lives.