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2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Local Hope Guatemala / Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Services

Mission: We empower children and their families to break the cycle of poverty and to live healthier, more abundant lives.

Results: A sampling. Since its inception in 1992, our Work-Study Program has: > Increased the number of years the average child is in school from just 3 years to 11 > Increased the percentage of girls in the program from just 2% to 53% > Vastly outperformed the norm for children without assistance: 90% of our sponsored students stay in school through age 16 vs. just 3.3% without assistance, and 100% leave our program literate vs. 40%* in the general populace (*WHO 2013 report). > Produced San Martín Chiquito's FIRST college graduates (3), and we've only just begun: There are more than EIGHTY children now sponsored and in school, following in the footsteps of these determined children! Additionally: > Our health programs serve more than 10,000 people each year > Our preschool educates and feeds approximately 35 children five days a week > Our Tesoros del Corazón Fair Trade Weaving Cooperative is preserving the ancient tradition of backstrap weaving while helping to feed and cloth a dozen families > Our Leaders in Action training program is preparing 20 youth each year to take leadership roles in their communities, and the world > Our Karen Edwards Women's Empowerment Project has made it possible for several dozen women to become literate, and continues to work to free women from the chains of illiteracy > Our Micro-loan program has already funded the start-up of three successful small businesses! > Our Dignified Housing Program has made it possible to families to recover their health, and their hope > Our Volunteer Program has made it possible for more than 1,200 people to experience the joy of service to others... For more information, visit us at http://www.xelaaid.org

Target demographics: impoverished children and families who seek to become highly productive and self sufficient

Geographic areas served: Current: Guatemalan Highlands

Programs: health care, preschool, work-study scholarships k-college, adult literacy, study center/tutoring, leadership training, micro-loans, support to a fair-trade weaving cooperative and more!

Community Stories

108 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have seen first hand how impactful Local Hope is. During Covid, the local staff in Guatemala coordinated emergency food distributions to a huge amount of people and prepared hot meals for children; partnered with other local non-profits to get over 200 people fitted with wheelchairs; helped set up a computer lab so that 500 students who would not otherwise have had access to teachers could continue learning; took English lessons online so they could better communicate with volunteers when they could finally visit again and so much more. It is amazing to me what a difference we make in lives, and how far we stretch donations!

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3

Board Member

Rating: 5

A year ago I signed up for a volunteer vacation to a Mayan community in Guatemala and was so impressed with how effective and personal Xela-Aid is that I agreed to join the board as the Chair of the Micro-business and Leadership programs. I have stepped into a world that is vastly different from the one I know - where 15 year old students work at dawn in the fields so that they can afford to attend secondary school, and who seek an education so that they can help their parents and siblings. In spite of this, they find time to give back to their communities in significant ways. They are an amazing group of people and my life is so much richer for having gotten to know them and having the opportunity to be of help.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a major donor who enthusiastically supports and endorses this strategic, creative, impactful and cost-efficient organization. Local Hope/Xela AID accomplishes so much for hundreds upon hundreds of Guatemalan families facing abject poverty and starvation in rural villages--not only keeping these many families alive during the pandemic, but simultaneously keeping countless Guatemalan children and families growing, learning and working toward self-reliance in spite of the pandemic.

If you want to make a real difference in rural Guatemala in culturally respectful and empowering ways, support--and tell your friends about--Local Hope/Xela AID. Visit their website and read just one of their monthly newsletters. You will see exactly what your gifts are achieving. Their on-the-ground, real-time programs--directly involving local community leaders and staff--are relevant, simple, direct, empowering and well-managed.

I have spoken at length with the management team, and I've had the pleasure of meeting board members.; they are wise administrators and trustworthy stewards of your charitable gifts. Join us in advancing Local Hope Guatemala / Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance.

CdlR

Advisor

Rating: 5

When I first became involved with Local Hope/Xela AID a decade and a half ago, I did not expect the enormous impact this involvement was going to have in my life. I loved the mission, education, health, and a healthy environment and I felt I could contribute my skills to achieve the ambitious goals of the organization.
It became a personal journey, falling in love with the people, with the country, and with the challenge. Through this journey, I've seen children without hope become productive and educated adults thanks to the consistent and selfless support of sponsors and staff. I've seen youth learn to self-organize and become leaders in their communities. I've seen volunteers deeply touched by their experiences and change before my eyes, tears running down their faces as they share with our groups their experiences and emotions. I've been one of them too, overcome by the depth of empathy and desire to make the world a little better through my efforts.
The villages that have been the focus of Local Hope/Xela AID have been transformed as well. They are more resilient, more educated, better prepared to face challenges such as the COVID pandemic, and the effects of climate change, economic hardships, and poverty.
Xela AID changed my life and we changed the lives of others for the better. I look forward to the next 15 years and to the amazing things this extraordinary organization will do.

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3

Advisor

Rating: 5

The Most Important Work I Have Ever Done

Eleven years ago, my wife Claudia and I joined a group of volunteers going to Guatemala with Xela AID, one of the yearly trips they’ve been making for over a decade. Our goal was to bring medicines and doctors to the village of San Martín Chiquito and to support several projects that were under way. We were also to look at their scholarship program and help wherever it was necessary. Finally, we were going to have some time to relax and decompress after the hard work in the village.

Well, little did I know that this 10-day trip was going to change my life and transform the lives of many others around me. We met three girls that stole our hearts and became part of our family for the next decade. One of them is now married and has a beautiful 3-year-old daughter; the second one just got married and is expecting a baby, and the third one is still in school and is preparing to study to be a nurse. By partnering with their families, we provided them an opportunity to break a cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and frankly, despair, and helped them become productive, educated indigenous women in a society dominated by men.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg for us. We became more and more involved in the project, with the weavers, their dreams, and their ideals; with the village youth, exploring with them ways to become leaders of their communities and their destinies. We helped save lives; we saw people rise from the mud of their collapsing adobe ruins to become productive families, working, learning to read and write, their children getting educated and healthier, with dignity.

And the tears flowed freely on that first trip and every trip afterward as the impact of what we had seen and as the impact of what we were doing finally sunk in. Tears of joy at seeing old friends thriving, children turned into men and women, a new generation of children healthier, energetic, and eager to learn. Mayan women becoming masters of pedagogy, artists proud of their work and remunerated fairly for it; adult women aspiring to become professionals, using computers, showing their leadership skills, humble and friendly, in charge of their own futures.

Xela AID is more than a project. These trips are more than just volunteer trips. Xela AID is a model for self-reliance, for honorable and effective collaborations between equals, of sharing resources and succeeding together in saving lives and helping people succeed and achieve their dreams. These trips are journeys of the heart, soul wrenching and life giving, purpose driven and filled with strong commitments to bring prosperity and dignity to the poorest of the poor.

These trips, this organization changes people’s lives, the Guatemalans lives and ours as well. This work is the most significant work that I have ever done.

Carlos de la Rosa

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1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am the proud possessor of a variety of woven items and beautiful earrings from the highly skilled weavers and beaders from the small town of Xela, Guatemala.

The colors, designs and artistry of each piece iare extraordinary. I have unusual water bottle holders, purses and even a stuffed frog. These are too interesting to stuff in a closet or drawer, so I display them in a handwoven basket on a shelf in my living room. They are truly works of art - not to mention practical when not on display.

I would encourage everyone to take part in Xela Aid's annual online auction. I bid on and won a Los Angeles travel brochure from the early 30s. It was probably given away by travel agencies as an incentive to visit. I think I paid $30 for it, but it truned out to be priceless. As a native Angeleno (as was my mother), I saw things that I hadn't known were that old, like my high school, and many places my mother had told me about that she visited growing up. Some are still there, some, unfortunately, are lost to history. Priceless.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization is doing excellent work in Guatemala. I would highly recommend taking one of their service trips!

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

Many years of experience, but I'll focus on my most recent trip. This organization is going strong and doing great work to support the community. Many places in Guatemala have been hit terribly by the pandemic, especially in terms of hunger. Local Hope/Xela Aid has helped numerous families to survive, and people are truly grateful. The leadership in Guatemala has stepped up and done a fantastic job. We were impressed--they have not just maintained operations, they have surged forward to do even more for the region.

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3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The most impressive thing about Xela Aid to me was the degree of community development that is visible through their work. Because they have invested their energy through so many years and projects, the progress they have made is evident. Also, while there is some direct charity for short-term need, the main work focuses on long term development: education, health, better housing.

It was a great experience for me to be a part of their work through volunteering on one of the trips. We worked, but we had a LOT of fun doing it. The people of the town are so welcoming and generous, patient with my still-developing Spanish abilities, and really seemed to enjoy the fact that our group was there to help. Guatemala is a beautiful country and I fully intend to go back, both on a service trip and as a tourist.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

As Board Member of Local Hope Guatemala/Xela Aid, I am always amazed at the ingenuity and high standards kept for our organization in the US and in Guatemala. We just returned from a trip to Peru, where it had been planned to not only enjoy this beautiful country but also help share some supplies for the school children in the communities where we were visiting. Even the lodge we stayed at in the Amazon jungle had been picked because it supports a local clinic and school and our dollars would be going to a greater cause. We had been hesitant to travel during this time and all precautions were taking by our group taking temperatures, O2 Sat levels and quick symptoms questionnaire. The people and staff of everywhere we visited were always masked and very conscious no to spread the virus with a diligence I wish we had here in the USA! We were overwhelmed by the gratitude of the people for coming and helping to revive their economy since they had suffered such immense financial and health loss with minimal to no governmental support for the poor of the country. Oxygen had even run out for the hospitals. Most of the vendors I interacted with had lost family members to the virus due to lack of medical support. Knowing that I am vaccinated and feeling well the entire trip and able to help bring hope of a economical stimulation for these people was just one of the incredible benefits of traveling with this group that prioritizes people over profits.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Just recently returned home from traveling in Peru with Local Hope / Xela Aid. This was my 2nd journey with them, the first being a service trip to Guatemala in 2018. We visited Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Amazon, and it was the trip of a lifetime! Leslie and Mel did an excellent job of planning our itinerary, and found a superb local guide, Fidelus Coraza Morveli, of Peru Ancestral, to accompany us. Travel during the pandemic provides both challenges and rewards, and Peru’s tourism industry has suffered a great deal lately. I was extremely impressed with the Peruvian people, who were extremely compliant with masking and sanitizing guidelines, while always behaving in a warm and welcoming manner. Everyone with whom we interacted, from hotel and restaurant staff, shopkeepers and street merchants, to locals who shared their stories and talents with us, all expressed their gratitude for our visit in these challenging times. We had the privilege of delivering some basic school supplies to children in the highlands who had been unable to access even paper and pencils due to the pandemic. The opportunity to visit and talk with the children and their community leaders truly enhanced our global understanding of the challenges that the pandemic has brought to our world. Our time in the Amazon was spent at a lodge run by another nonprofit, Angels of the Amazon. In addition to the very thrilling ( but safe) canopy zip line, jungle hikes with animal sightings and piranha fishing, we had the unique opportunity to see another nonprofit in action. We toured their medical clinic, shopped at their basket weaving cooperative, enjoyed a presentation by a biologist whose research they sponsored, and enjoyed the expertise of the lodge’s guides in all of our activities. Throughout the trip, Leslie, Mel, and Fidelus all consistently flexed our plans when necessary, kept us all informed as plans evolved, and were continuously responsive to everyone’s welfare. The trip was made even more meaningful as a result of their very competent leadership and their unique point of view as a nonprofit. Any travel with Local Hope / Xela Aid will definitely change your life and your view of the world, and in turn, better enable you to make a positive change as well!

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2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Xela Aid trip to Guatemala was definitely one of the best vacations of a lifetime! If you are looking for an opportunity to learn, experience, serve, and give and receive love, a Xela Aid trip is the perfect answer. The schedule is extremely well organized, yet flexible when needed. The trip leaders build the group into a team very quickly, while carefully attending to everyone’s individual needs. Our lodgings and transportation were all top notch, with local guides at each sightseeing stop so that we could get the most from each experience. We visited art and anthropology museums in Mexico City, then the colonial capital of Guatemala, Antigua, followed by the ruins of the Mayan capital. Next came our service days, which seemed more like fun than work. The Guatemalan people are so warm and friendly that our time there felt like a cultural immersion. The opportunities to interact through interpreters are many of my most treasured memories, and the chance to meet the young girl who I have the privilege to sponsor was an absolutely amazing experience. I only wished that the trip could be longer so that we could spend more time getting to know the many people whose lives are being changed for the better by Xela Aid! Our time in beautiful Guatemala concluded with a relaxing visit to Lake Atitlan, where the recreational choices were sure to appeal to all tastes, and our final group dinner was the occasion for many happy tears. Although it was called a service trip, I know that I received far more than I gave, and I would be ready and willing to do it again, hopefully soon!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We had the best experience traveling with Xela AID. Having just returned from our trip to Machu picchu we could not have had a better experience. Just making new friends was worth the trip. We had a great tour guide Fidelus was with us every step of the way. A wonderful and energetic tour guide.
Many Thanks to Xela AID for a spectacular adventure.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been on the board of Local Hope Guatemala/Xela AID for six years and have enjoyed that experience immensely. The holistic programs the non-profit offers the community in Guatemala - food aid, education and scholarships, health, adult literacy, domestic violence prevention, and many more - offer solid footings for people in the community to make their lives - and their family's lives - better long-term. The service trips offer great opportunities to learn more about Guatemala - people, cultures, places, and a lot else - and also do some good in the community. My wife and I have sponsored several children for school over the years and have really enjoyed getting to know them and their families.

Scott Thomas D.

Donor

Rating: 5

The people who work and volunteer here are not only some of the highest quality and most ethical folks I've ever met but they have and continue to increase their LIVESAVING WORK year after year...always growing their outreach and quality of assistance for the challenged villages they serve so well.

Lauren K

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with Xela Aid as a Spanish-English tutor with one of their employees in Guatemala and it has been a wonderful exchange and experience. Xela Aid's commitment to the San Martin Chiquita community and the collaboration between the Guatemalan and American teams makes it a truly special organization. I have been impressed with the way that they have pivoted their programming during the pandemic and continued a focus on empowerment and self reliance with the communities and individuals that they work with. I am honored to be a part of this organization and encourage anyone who can to volunteer and donate to support their work!!

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5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently came back from a trip from Guatemala with XELA Aid. From the moment that we were greeted into the San Martin community, it became clear that this organization has become family and a consistent source of empowerment, aid, and joy for many of the people there. Headed by smart, hard-working people both in Guatemala and the U.S., the leaders are constantly working to improve and stretch dollars to help people help themselves. Especially exciting programs that I saw were the youth leadership group (empowering youth to be community leaders and raise money through micro-loan businesses); a restructuring of the clinic with an energized, committed, and accomplished new doctor; a literacy group of women who are learning to speak Spanish for the first time; sponsored students who are going further in school than they ever would have imagined; construction of new homes and schools to make survival and education possible; and a continuation of a woman's weaver's co-op that generates income and preserves an important artistic tradition. These are just a few of the MANY ways that XELA Aid affects the community. Beyond these initiatives, XELA Aid trips and events with the community are filled with love and cross-cultural communication and respect. I have amazing new friends on both side of the border. I am proud to now be a small part of this organization and am excited to see what wonderful work they will continue to do.

Board Member

Rating: 5

My wife and I went on our first trip with Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance to Guatemala in 2011 or so. The organization has grown tremendously since that time and now has a local staff of a dozen or so. Over the years, and many additional service trips to Guatemala, Jill and I have become much more involved in the organization, including now both being on the board of directors. One of the things that I find most meaningful about the organization is that it is focused on the people in the community who need the most help, but doing it in a way that is a partnership, rather than charity. The organization is built around mutual responsibility and the results show this: many of the local staff are the shining examples of the positive results the various programs Xela AID provides community members - of all ages - for bettering lives in a holistic way. I'm very proud to be a part of Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance because it makes a real and meaningful difference in people's lives.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I got connected to Xela Aid by friends who serve on the board. I am a sustainability professional with a focus on international waste and recycling and have been working in the field more than 25 years. I seen many efforts that work on community building and economic development in extremely vulnerable communities in Brazil, India, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico . Most initiatives start up and then fade out. The long term dedication of Xela Aid to build resilience from the ground up in the communities they serve are transformational. I have been incredibly impressed. This past year we began supporting the education of two young men and look forward to continuing to doing so.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a donor to Xela AID in the past, but this year I have become closer to the organization by volunteering as an English tutor. More than ever, I am so impressed by the staff, board, and volunteers; the impact they make to the education and welfare of the children and families they serve is phenomenal and inspiring.

1 travelinman

Donor

Rating: 5

A Rotarian's Perspective - I am a Rotarian and have been long involved with this organization, including participating on Rotary-Xela Aid projects over the past few years. This organization and Rotary hold the same values dear, so it always feels natural to partner. Each trip has been personally eye-opening for me -- a spiritual experience, to be sure. On this particular trip the issue was that children were being hit by cars on a main road near Xela Aid headquarters. The local authorities had a plan and the will, but not the money, to put in a speed bump. So on that trip we all pitched in to help get it done. I was blown away to learn that 1-3 children (and some adults) were being hit each year, which could be solved with this simple speed bump (pictured). In the end, this simple and obvious fix cost just a hundred and fifty bucks and a couple of days of sweat-investment to install so it would last. So much satisfaction, so little cost. This is a common revelation for me when I go with the group to Guatemala -- a little money goes far toward solving problems and in this case, saving lives! The volunteer trips, too, are very affordable (www.localhope.org/volunteer), and a very satisfying way to spend my time. I am signed up to go again in March of 2021 (postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus) and I couldn't be more ready to go. Thank you Xela Aid-Local Hope for giving me the opportunity to share my good fortune with others.

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

I’ve been volunteering with XelaAid/Local Hope since 2007, and have been on and led a number of volunteer trips. It has been a rewarding experience, and the progress has been wonderful. I could say a lot more, but to illustrate how credible this organization is, I’ll just describe its relationship with Rotary International (RI). XelaAid/Local Hope has received major back to back grants from RI for sanitation, water, and educational projects in Guatemala, and anyone who has ever been through the process of getting such a grant knows it’s one of the most challenging, thoroughly researched, validated, and audited applications that exist...and if you make it through the process, it shows the world that your organization is highly credible. Getting a second grant just doesn’t happen unless your outcomes from the first are highly successful...it’s truly one of the greatest marks of credibility any nonprofit can hope to achieve.

I prefer giving my time and my philanthropic dollars to organizations who do what they say they will, are highly successful at doing so, and have real impact on making the world a better place. That’s why I am still supporting XelaAid/Local Hope 13 years after my first experience with them.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first went on a trip with Xela Aid in 2015 and it really changed my life and perspective of the world and my own cultural identity. I have Guatemalan heritage but felt disconnected to this part of me prior to the trip. Going on a Xela Aid trip opened my world and allowed me to experience the beauty and rich culture of Guatemala and its people. I learned so much about the country participating in a variety of volunteer activities and felt honored to take part in Xela Aid's well established support that continues to improve lives through a wide range of methods. They take incredible care of their volunteers and it truly is the most rewarding experience of my life.

2 Andrew D.5

Board Member

Rating: 5


My daughters and I have participated in five consecutive annual volunteer trips since 2015 with Xela AID, a non-profit organization, that serves the community of Quetzaltenango (Xela) to empower children and their families to break the cycle of poverty by becoming healthy, educated, and self-reliant. A. On these trips, my daughters, fellow volunteers and I served the community of Xela in the following ways: distributing over 250 shoes to needy children and youth; teaching ESL to 5th and 6th graders; teaching youth public speaking skills; providing education on nutrition to young mothers; constructing and gifting chicken coops and chickens to needy families; working on construction projects; delivering and installing water filters in local homes; conducting healthy child clinics; providing education on the impact of drugs and alcohol; providing reading glasses to local women and children; and working in Xela AID’s preschool and study center programs serving over 100 children. These trips not only meet the needs of the people of Guatemala, but also radically transform the volunteers on the trip, especially teenagers and young adults. All the trips my family and I have participated in, have been magical.

Public school is free in Guatemala, however, many parents don’t allow their children to attend school, since they need them to work. An image burned in my memory is an eight year old walking along the side of the road, with a three year old on their back, selling food or trinkets. Through the generosity of donors, who sponsor children and youth, Xela Aid provides replacement income, so the parents will allow their children to attend school. In its 30 year history, Xela AID alumni include mayors, school teachers and principals, nurses, artists, etc. On my 2016 trip, my wife and I decided to sponsor a young woman. When we told her we were going to sponsor her, she began to cry. She shared with us that the next day she was planning to move to Guatemala City to become a maid, since she did not have the funds to go to school. The commitment that my wife and I made is changing the trajectory of this young woman’s future.

I heard from locals that said that as much as they were afraid of COVID-19, hunger scared them even more, as they were afraid food and jobs would be even more scarce then pre COVID. During the COVID crises, Xela AID had to pause it's volunteer trips. Fortunately, through the generosity of donors, Xela AID immediately transitioned to providing food to Guatemalans that desperately needed the food, including those in hard to reach rural areas.

Xela AID is one of those organizations that is definitely punching above its weight class. A dollar donated to Xela AID goes a long way and directly impacts the life of Guatemalans. I wish there were more non-profits like Xela AID making such an enormous difference to end the cycle of poverty.

2 KSB3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering and traveling with Local Hope Guatemala for over 10 years. The opportunity to work alongside the indigenous Mayan population that lives in the area served by this organization has enriched my understanding of the culture and the people and, yes, I've learned a few things about myself along the way. The attention paid to the volunteer experience ..... an in-depth orientation, a focused approach to the work that matches my skills and interests with activities during the trip, check-ins along the way, and the follow up evaluations after we return home..all of these things combine to make a rich, well-curated, well-planned adventure where I feel safe, valued and appreciated. The love and respect this organization demonstrates towards its target population is evidenced in the changes I've seen in the community over the years. People are healthier as a result of the medical teams, they are more educated, more are employed. There are less measurable positive effects in the population, I'm certain, as a result of how completely invested this organization is in the community. I encourage anyone thinking of supporting this group through donations or travel to jump at the opportunity. So little can do so much!!

1 catalinaflyer

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went on my first trip to Guatemala in 2004 and fell in love with the people. I don't speak very good Spanish but they all have made me feel welcome when I try. The country is beautiful and Xela AID treats you to a special view of the Mayan culture and people. Since that first trip, I have traveled many more times, sponsored a young boy for school, and most recently a young girl who is a nurse. All my travels with Xela AID have been special. I would recommend Xela AID to anyone wanting to travel to Guatemala and to serve those in need.

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4

Board Member

Rating: 5

Just returned from a wonderful trip to Guatemala with Xela Aid. Participated in a clean water project, shoes for the kids, and new computers for students in college.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In June of 2018 I went to Guatemala on one of Local Hope/Xela AID's service trips to volunteer as an art teacher and any thing else I could do to contribute. On arrival, our small bus was immediately mobbed by a hundred smiling, waving, shouting, laughing kids. They were aged 5 to 9 and formed small groups to greet, surround, hug and escort each of us coming off the bus into the building, all the while continuing to laugh, smile and shout. It was eerily similar to the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where Richard Dreyfuss is ushered up the ramp and into the spaceship by a covey of waist-high aliens.

I had made my way to a little village called San Martin Chiquito via a 5 hour drive from Guatemala City. There are countless similar remote villages throughout Guatemala, all lacking infrastructure, decent housing, healthcare, employment, education and water that is safe to drink. Many of the rural poor are descendants of ancient civilizations such as the Mayans, and communicate exclusively in one of the 23 dialects spoken in the country. Once you move outside the capital or tourist locations like Antigua, despite the 18 active political parties, there is little evidence that a government or any other means of public support exists. The folks in these towns have their family, the church and little else.

San Martin Chiquito is a little less desperate than the rest thanks to Leslie and Mel Dinkel who have spent 25 years managing Xela-Aid, a non-profit that has made life better for many of the local families and created a future for their children. Xela-Aid usually runs 6 tours a year that combine 4 days in the village sandwiched between time spent at spots of unparalleled beauty - Antigua and Lake Atitlan. After the initial 2 days in Antigua, whose beauty definitely draws its share of tourists, I boarded a bus and set off for San Martin Chiquito with a group of 20 unsuspecting artists who thought they were in for some plein air painting in a rustic setting. No one was remotely aware of, let alone prepared, for what was to follow.

Successive waves of ecstatic kids maneuvered us into the Xela-Aid facility which is staffed by locals who oversee year-round efforts to provide meals, medical attention, clean water, education and more to needy families in the village. The children were all from families in the village that rely on these services. As the next 4 days unfolded, the desperate living conditions we encountered combined with the precious children became emotionally overwhelming. Many of the group who had simply come to paint and shop responded to the heartbreaking scene with heart warming commitments to sponsor children they became acquainted with.

Sponsorship is merely one of many financial sources that permit Xela-Aid to operate. Sponsors stay in contact with the kids and families they support and many make annual visits. One of the benefits to a sponsored child is to have their education extended beyond age 8, where without a sponsor they would have to drop out of school to begin working in the fields to help support their family. There are many success stories including sponsored kids that have completed school (even college for some) and are now working on the Xela-Aid staff.

During the days spent in San Martine Chiquito I built and delivered chicken coops (including chickens) to the homes of families that had requested them. The chickens present no expense to the family as chickens can scrounge enough to eat on their own during the day when set loose in the yard. The coop helps protect them from dogs and the like at night and most importantly, chances are going a day without food will become a thing of the past. It was the first time I ever held a live chicken in my bare hands - nothing to it.

I also helped with a painting class given to 30 kids. There is no art in their regular school so it went over as a very big deal. After I saw such a positive response from the kids to the painting class, I spent all my free time drawing with kids.

3 Lori K.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I just returned from another fabulous experience with Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance. This was my third trip with Xela AID and I was so looking forward to seeing my Guatemalan friends and doing my small part to improve the lives of the people and community of San Martín Chile Verde. My favorite activity is delivering water filtration systems to families and teaching them how to use and maintain the systems. I believe that clean water is the basis and foundation of health and life so it's vital to enable families to have pure water. At one home, a small girl asked Leslie, the founder of Xela AID, with wonder - "Clean water, every day, for free?" Nothing makes my heart sing more than seeing how small acts of kindness make a huge impact. I highly recommend taking a service trip with Xela AID - it will change you forever by filling your heart and mind with the love of a beautiful country, people, and culture.

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3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently returned from my second trip with Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance. Of all the trips one could take or experiences one could have, Xela AID surpasses all expectations. The leaders and organization create profound impact both in the work they do and the friendships built between volunteers and with the community. This year I brought my young adult children and we all benefitted from contributing to the community through teaching art in the preschool and holding a sports day for elementary school students. I don't know who had more fun - the kids or the grownups! My son gained construction skills working on the Rotary Club sponsored clean water project building bathrooms in the local schools and he also learned how small acts of kindness - smiles, high fives, and hugs - have lasting impact on the giver and the receiver. The care and feeding (always eating!) of the volunteer group that Leslie (founder) and Mel (partner and CFO) provide create lasting relationships and meaningful group dynamics. I highly recommend going on a trip. It will change you for the better and make life immensely better for the people of San Martin Chile Verde.

1 Stefan L.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

HI there, I actually went on a trip with XelaAid in 2018 and just came back from my 2nd trip 8/26/19. I was so inspired by my first trip that I partnered with XelaAid to bring several friends and acquaintances along with me. All I can say is that all my co-volunteers and I had an INCREDIBLE, rewarding experuience. This is by far the BEST NON-PROFIT organization out there and if ANYONE is looking to experience a service trip in Guatemala or wishes to support a non-profit organization in XelaAid, this is the best one to support. I love that it is not religious or politically driven and that everyone is welcome. Plus you cannot feel any safer than with XelaAid. They are top notch 100%

1 Dodds

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Xela Aid has the word "Partnership" in its title. This is reflected in everything they do. The people they engage, both volunteers and residents, in one of the poorest areas of Guatemala, are treated with dignity, respect, and a sense of striving together to improve what many would deem a dire situation. The founders of this amazing group have always listened to the people they partner with and have truly empowered those they encounter. I have traveled with Xela Aid for over twenty years and have witnessed first hand how they have matured with the community they have partnered with. They have really empowered the Guatemalan people who have become almost independent in the operation of the medical clinic, clean water projects, education, early child care, and many other areas that any self sustaining community requires. I have watched with awe and admiration as this group has expanded the lives of everyone from volunteers to the youngest in the community as they have shown what it truly means to be a partner.

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2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have just returned from my August 2016 trip to San Martin Chiquito with Xela Aid. I have travelled to Guatemala many times since 1993 to work with this amazing Humanitarian group. We did many projects at our beautiful clinic and held a near vision clinic as well as distributing sunglasses to protect the eyes of these agricultural workers. Xela Aid is a totally transparent non profit where partnership to help the Guatemalan Mayan people is their goal. I always return in awe of what a little help can do for so many people. We always receive much more than we give. If you want to volunteer with a group in a third world setting you should find out more about Xela Aid.

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1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Our family of 5 just returned from a humanitarian service trip to the beautiful Highlands of Guatemala with Xela Aid. We did not know much about Xela Aid or Guatemala; we were connected in via a dear friend. We came with both open hearts and minds and left with both overflowing. We had the opportunity to do life changing work for the children, women and the men who watch over the community. It was evident that so much care, thought and attention to detail by the leaders of our trip (who are trained by Xela Aid) occurred before we left and again on a daily basis. We did not have to think about anything other than how we were going to make a difference. We are beyond grateful for Xela Aid for all that they continue to do for the small village of San Martin and for inviting so many others in to learn from your example and have an opportunity to make a significant difference.

3 Diane B.6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was privileged to go on a service trip to Guatemala with Xela Aid and witness this amazing nonprofit in action. Their work truly changes lives in a sustainable way that allows the villagers to participate in a way that maintains their dignity.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I joined Xela AID for a second trip this summer since our 2018 experience was so rewarding. The work this group is doing to enrich and make this local community sustainable is amazing. I appreciate their efforts to work within the local culture and support the local Guatemalan leadership (who are so dedicated to the work they are doing to help their community). My daughter and I particularly enjoyed the direct contact we had with the children delivering shoes and working on art projects, and getting out into the community delivering water filters and chicken coops. My daughter is a sophomore in high school and this has really broadened her view of how she can make an impact on a community in need and also what big hearts the Guatemalan people have!

From an organizational perspective, Xela AID is top notch. I appreciate the couple of days at the start of the trip to get to know our group, then the number of days of service in the community followed by a couple of days of relaxing at the lake. A perfect balance of service and time to enjoy the country. The leaders were excellent at accommodating the needs of the group and able to switch up plans as necessary to make sure everyone had a positive experience. Transport throughout Guatemala was comfortable and our driver Carlos did an excellent job at driving us safely between each destination.

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6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I joined Xela AID on their last service trip. It was an amazing experience and it was impressive to see how much Xela AID does to support the local community to meet their critical needs. The trip educated us on the local Mayan culture and how we could provide support without changing their rich culture. I would highly recommend Xela AID.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What makes the volunteer experience with Xela AID exceptional is the decades-long relationship with the village and the passion and commitment of the program director, board members, and staff for the people they serve — it is infectious and permeates every aspect of the trip. The directly impactful service work and time spent getting to know the rich history and culture of Guatemala left we wanting more time for both. The non-secular nature of Xela AID is another plus for me, as is the flexibility to choose from a variety of service and learning programs. I would strongly recommend a trip with Xela AID to anyone who wants to connect and contribute in a meaningful way in a community that needs and appreciates all the help we can provide.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This was the first, hopefully of many, trip I had taken with delta aid and it could not have gone better. I had a specific interest in the medical field and they allowed me to shadow the doctor and nurse there. Usually when you shadow someone, you are primarily just watching, but ok this trip, they let me distribute the deworming medication and vitamin capsules to the little kids who were coming in. That hands on experience is what has made me positive I want to be a doctor. Furthermore, I didn’t feel like the organization was searching for money, but that they actually cared about the community. They urged us to sponsor kids, but the experience is what really made me want to support them. The director, Leslie Baer Dinkel was an inspiration and her enthusiasm was so refreshing and showed the heart at the core of the organization. I would have liked more time in the village and less time sight seeing, but overall it was still an awesome trip. I met so many amazing people and they were all so loving that I can’t wait to go back and help this amazing community and group.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went to a small village in the rural highlands of Guatemala to build chicken coops for Mayan families in need of a source of protein. This was my second trip with Xela AID and proved the first one was no fluke. Once again I had an incredibly enriching experience. Xela AID sees to every detail so that I am happy, safe, comfortable and able to focus completely on trying to offer any help I can to families in dire situations. The warmth and trust I received from these indigenous people is evidence of how significantly Xela AID has affected their lives. The children and adults you meet enthusiastically surround you with laughter and embraces simply because you have come as a part of Xela AID. Everyday building coops, sharing meals, entertaining kids, listening to their stories - one is overwhelmed by the deep and enduring love between the staff of Xela AID and the families of San Martin Chiquito.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Xela Aid creates a path to know the beauty of Guatemala and its people. Thank you for a wonderful experience!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

"As a Rotarian, my standards for integrity are off the charts, unforgiving. I was introduced to Xela Aid about a year ago and what an amazing blessing it has been, ever since. Having gone on two service trips to Guatemala with Xela Aid and planning a third as 'trip leader', I have seen the organizations inner workings, inside & out, top to bottom, first hand, and their steadfast dedication to integrity and service, humbles me. When approached for assistance by the seemingly never ending line of charities, I used to say, I do all my giving through Rotary. Now, I proudly say, I do all my giving through Rotary and Xela Aid." - Orin Abrams

4 ashleepalka

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My trip to Guatemala with Xela AID was the most fulfilling trip I have EVER been on by miles and miles. I'm looking forward to going back next year and will hopefully be taking family and friends with me when I go. It's incredible to see firsthand how much of an impact Xela AID has had in San Martin. They've touched so many lives and they're still looking to do more. Their operations are sustainable and highly effective. It is so moving to see real good being done in the world through organizations like Xela AID and I'm so proud to have contributed even a little bit.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I travelled to Guatemala with 21 strangers to work with Xela Aid. We completed 4 bathrooms and hand wash stations at a nearby school. We distributed water filters to area homes and we worked with Xela Aid leaders to identify parasites in their drinking water.

Every aspect of our trip was phenomenal: the work was meaningful & greatly appreciated by the local community as well as by Xela Aid. The country was beautiful. The food was amazing. Every bit heartwarming.

I went to Guatemala with 21 strangers to work with Xela Aid and returned with 21 friends & countless memories.

2 Kevin S.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This was my first time volunteering with XelaAid, and I must admit that the experience was a life changing one. I cannot even begin to share how inspired I became after participating with XelaAid in October of 2018. There were a group of 22 people that had never met and we bonded immediately. It was almost as if we all knew each other from the past. From experiencing the culture, to tasting their food, helping and playing with children, to change peoples' lives by providing them with Water Filtration systems, to painting a newly dedicated bathroom to a new school....every experience got better than the last. For anyone that EVER wants to give back and have fun while doing it with an incredible organization, you DEFINITELY should consider XelaAid. The founders, Leslie and Mel are "Saints" to say the least. They give their heart and soul and truly help women and men lead, develop and the locals of San Martin in Xela. Unlike many organizations, XelaAid EMPOWERS their local kids and families to become self sufficient and to help train, educate and motivate others in the area to lead better lives.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Xela AID provides educational and humanitarian support to a village in the mountains of Guatemala (near Quetzaltenango). I just returned from a 10-day service trip with them (October 11-21, 2018). Xela AID's focus is multi-dimensional, centered around the concept that teaching people to help themselves is the most powerful way to effect change.

The organization has been working in Guatemala for about 26 years. In my opinion, they have thought of everything:
Their focus on education includes securing higher-education sponsorships for students. They also require that those students give back to the community by tutoring a certain number of hours per week. (Many former-students have become teachers at the schools in the village.)
The clinic at Xela AID feels like a community center. It is where the people of the village go for medical attention. Each day, there was a full waiting room (lobby of building). The patients are also given food as needed.
In addition to education and medical assistance, Xela AID knows the importance of clean, safe drinking water. Their simple and effective water filtration system is comprised of two buckets and a filter (previously used for kidney dialysis). As part of the Xela AID philosophy of self-sustainability, each family is required to save money to replace the filter in 10 years.
The non-profit group has also built bathrooms for many of the local schools. Our group of volunteers helped paint one of these and got to participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The students will be trained on how to wash their hands as well as how to keep the bathrooms clean.

The bottom line is that Xela AID has created an outstanding non-profit organization that provides support while helping the community become self-sufficient. (Several bed and breakfast rooms are currently being built to help toward this goal.) The Xela AID model is both compassionate and intelligent. It is run by some of the most generous, kindhearted, astute and farsighted people I’ve ever met.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Had the great fortune to join a fantastic service & travel trip with volunteers from various Rotary Clubs from S California & Hilo, Hawaii working with Xela Aid in San Martin, Guatemala from October 11-21, 2018. We completed service projects and our group put the finishing touches on a clean water & restroom project at a local emementary school in San Martin. We also visited local residents and installed clean water filters for their drinking water supply. Volunteers also brought many art projects that we worked on with the kids over the four days. We also learned how to weave & shop the local market before learning how to prepare regional dishes that we served to the kids. Rotarians conducted a shoe drive in their home towns and gave away new shoes to kids at Xela Aid. We met with the weavers to brainstorm new ideas for weaving products and discussed products/styles that could be easily created and brought to market. We also met many of the kids & families that use various services provided by Xela Aid. We attended a dinner meeting of the Rotary Club in Quetzaltenango-they were the International Rotary Sponsor Club. Our service group was well represented from a number of volunteers from Rotary Clubs in Southern CA as well as Hilo, Hawaii.

Our travel included some amazing destinations before and after the service project in Mexcio City, Antigua, Quetzaltenango & Lake Atitilan. Our schedule was jam packed with many activities which included tour guide experts who lead tours on the subjects of Mexican & Guatemalan history, anthropology, weaving & archeology.

This was most definitely a 5 STAR experience! What an amazing group of volunteers- we all had the good fortune to meet, work together for Xela Aid and create lifelong memories while travelling. We all made a difference impacting kids & their family’s lives through service at Xela Aid in San Martin, Guatemala - SABOR!

Pat Bland - October 2018

2 Lorraine Parrone P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Xela AID is an organization that promotes self-reliance, and does not believe in handouts, but “hands up”. I spent 4 days at their facility in San Martin, Guatemala, and it was obvious from the moment the bus pulled up that Xela AID makes a differnece in that community. Their education programs to help break the cycle of poverty are so necessary, and the children that have graduated from their programs are helping others in their community break that cycle. I can’t wait until my next trip to Guatemala to help improve the lives of those living in the mountainous community and provide hope to the families in the area.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am very impressed with Xela Aid. Traveling to Guatemala to work as a volunteer was a complete unknown for me and, in every way, the experience far, far exceeded my expectations. The trip was extremely well-planned from start to finish, and the leaders, Andrew and Ohana, were excellent guides. They were personable and approachable, but they were also highly organized and professional, which made the entire experience unfold smoothly. Leslie and Mel provided further support with their calm, knowledgeable, and warm presence. I loved traveling with other like-minded volunteers, and I had a terrific time getting to know such a great group of diverse people. Most of all, it was an honor and a pleasure to meet the wonderful people of San Martin Chiquito and have the opportunity to be of some assistance to them. I could see that the work we did in the village and the projects we completed would truly make a long-term difference to the community. I can recommend this nonprofit without a single reservation.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Xela Aid is an amazing organization! Wow! Words cannot describe the impact and lives that are being changed because of Xela Aid.
I recently had the privilege of volunteering in the June Guatemala 2018 trip. I believe we all have a longing to make a difference Xela Aid definitely provides the opportunity. The people are so welcoming. They have so little but yet they are so great full. The children smiles are priceless. They greeted us so warmly with hugs, a performance and a dance.
During our trip we were able to deliver water filters that provide clean water to families. They have to boil the water and fire wood is expensive and time consuming . I cannot expressive how great full the families were to receive them. Yet it broke my heart many people would stop us as we were delivering the filters and ask, “when will I get one? “ Sadly, the waiting list is long. However, for under a hundred dollars a water filter can change a families life.
Our leaders Andrew and Ohana were amazing . They spent hours and hours carefully planning every detail. Our safety was a top priority.
Mel and Leslie have such a heart for making a difference and a vision that has impacted so many lives. We met so many students that have graduated and are now making a difference because they received scholarships. This is truly an organization that is bringing hope and help for generations to come. I really enjoyed this trip. Our group of 25 volunteers were talented, kind and compassionate people.

The people and kids at San Martin Chiquito opened my eyes and taught me how important it is to be greatful and appreciative. I am so blessed to live in America. I feel like a piece of my heart stayed in Guatemala the need is so great many children cannot go to school unless they get spronsered because they have to work at young ages. We had the privilege of hearing many children’s dreams and aspirations they shared their desires to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, and veterinarians in hopes of finding a person to sponsor them through a scholarship. My heart also aches Their are so many kids on the waiting list.
It truly a life changing trip Katie

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with Xela AID was extraordinary in all the right ways. It was amazing to see first hand what a difference they are making in the lives of the villagers at San Martin. From delivering water filters to spending the day with my sponsored child, all the projects and activities opened my heart to new levels of gratitude and humility. I cannot say enough about the integrity, knowledge, and heart of this organization. It was a personal blessing to be one small piece of this organization.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I always wondered what it would be like to participate in an experience that gave back to a community in a way that would have an immediate impact. I eagerly signed up to participate in the Xela AID trip to Guatemala this summer with my daughter, thinking what a great time we would have to bond together in such an experience. I had heard many wonderful things about Xela from others and admit, I was curious to see and experience it firsthand. I can share that the experience far-exceeded my expectations.

Xela AID was exceptional from the trip planning and logistics, day-to-day activities, and overall experience one could only imagine. I feel so fortunate that I walk away with the experience of not only making an immediate impact on the lives of others, but that my eyes were opened to another way that we, as humans, connect with one another. From a trip to the local market and cooking for volunteers, teaching yoga to young teens, facilitating an entire morning of pre-school art activities, participating in soccer with local children, and delivering water filters to families, I proudly walk away with a heart filled of love for a community and country I just met.

The leaders and those involved in Xela AID are exceptional individuals and I will forever cherish my involvement with Xela AID.

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A week ago we completed our second trip to Guatemala with Xela Aid. The combination of leadership, vision, and the company of those who self-selected themselves to be our traveling companions made this trip even more meaningful and satisfying than the first. We expect to be back again.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently traveled to Guatemala with Xela Aid. The trip was amazing in so many ways. First of all it was extremely organized and professional and our health and well-being was number one throughout the trip! The activities and projects were planned in advance to accommodate peoples passions and interests. Traveling with a group of 25 strangers is usually uncomfortable, but from the very beginning of the trip we did activities that allowed us to learn names and learn about each other quickly. My travel companions are no longer strangers...they are now my friends. I highly recommend a trip with Xela Aid...you will be fulfilled beyond your expectations.

6

Donor

Rating: 5

Our first hand experience visiting Xela Aid does showed how much their contributions matter to the community of San Martin Chiquita. Women, children, artists, everyone we encountered is learning enabling skills for self reliance and leadership that are compatible with retaining their beautiful ancient culture.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We travelled to the highlands of Guatemala with Xela Aid. Though this trip we had a terrific window into the incredible natural beauty, the traditional artisans and the struggles of this unique part of the world. Travel was safe and yet authentic, a difficult balance to achieve for people coming in for a short stay! Made many wonderful friends in the process. If you are interested in modern Mayan culture, and are flexible and interested in service, consider Xela Aid!

4 Claudia N.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I went on my first volunteer trip with Xela Aid 10 years ago and I was hooked! So, since then my husband and I have gone back to Xela every chance we had!
I love the people - both the people working in the project and my fellow travelers and volunteers! The project is run extremely well and almost all the money and resources go straight to where they are needed in Guatemala.
We have sponsored some lovely girls through school and trade school and it is always amazing to see them grow up and become amazing adults!
I can only recommend a trip with Xela Aid to anybody who is interested in this project! By giving your support and time to the people of San Martin, you will come away from this journey far richer than you could ever have imagined.

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3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The First time I came on a Xela AID volunteer trip was 7 years ago and I have been coming ever since! This project is not just another pilot project like you see in so many places. It has been going strong for over 20 years and it gets stronger and bigger every day! The Maya's we work with are amazing people and they make the decisions about what they need help with and many times I have seen them put the need of others before their own. The projects include health, education, clean water, micro loans and emergency help for those who are in dire need. The volunteer trips are amazingly beautiful, efficient and somehow everybody seems got get along wonderfully and we have made great friends not only with the locals but also other volunteers. There is no drama and no personality clashes, it's amazing to see!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of volunteering for Xela Aid in 2016, and the work they do for the community of San Martin Chiquito is amazing! They have many areas that you can volunteer in; I loved each area that I volunteered in like the preschool, art therapy and the afterschool program. You can't go wrong with whichever area you choose, and the people of San Martin Chiquito would be so grateful for your help. I had the best experience; it was truly life changing. It was by far one of the best trips I have been on, and I hope to volunteer with Xela Aid again in the future.

3

Donor

Rating: 5

I found Xela Aid 10 years ago on Charity Navigator. I was looking for an aid organization to support that was helping in the vicinity of where my adopted daughter was born. I also wanted to know that my donations were going to people and not just to operating expenses.

My daughter and I just got back from our first trip with Xela Aid. I was very impressed by the work I saw being done by Xela Aid and with the future plans to expand their services while training up a new generation of leaders. I left feeling confident that my donations were being well used.

It was a wonderful trip to reintroduce my daughter to her birth culture as well.

MMS September 2017


3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I heard about Xela Aid from a friend I had taken a couple of Spanish classes with at UCLA. She said going on on of their trips (at the age of 82!) was one of the best experiences of her life. I took a two-week trip with Xela Aid to Guatemala this summer (July 2017) and had a fantastic experience. The other volunteers on the trip were of all ages and had in common a great spirit and desire to make the world a better place. Spending time with the beautiful people of San Martin Chiquito at the Xela Aid facilities was very inspiring. You can see the direct impact that Xela Aid has on their lives, providing education, healthcare and emotional support.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently joined Xela AID for a two week trip to Guatemala.
This was my first time traveling with a non profit organization.
It was an amazing experience and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in visiting a beautiful country with humble and kind people.
This is a great organization that strives to make a difference and succeeds.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I participated in a Xela AID trip earlier this summer with several colleagues. The trip was super organized and focused on providing help and resources to those in need through several camps( a physics camp, women's studies camp, ... ).It has been a life changing trip that has taught me to appreciate the little things in life and to always be thankful. I highly recommend Xela AID for anyone trying to gain a new perspective on life and make a positive difference in the world.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Xela Aid deserves the high remarks for an organization doing great things. This organization is focuses on making sustainable change both for the communities they work in and for the people who help make it possible. The immersion in the culture that Xela Aid is able to provide vastly stands out from others. I have been on other trips with organizations that are not as thoughtful as those who run Xela Aid. Anyone who is able to take a trip with these wonderful people will have an experience unmatchable and will not regret it.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Earlier this summer I participated in my first service trip with Xela AID. I attended this trip with several others from my college and it was truly life changing. Both the members of Xela AID and the people of San Martin were so welcoming and loving. Xela AID not only made me realize the importance of service work, but the million reasons we have to be happy. While we were there I felt like I was truly making an impact on the lives of the people in that community, and they were also making an impact on me. Xela AID does such great work for so many amazing people and I hope I can go back in the next few years to keep making a difference!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with Xela Aid on three different trips over the past four years, first as a volunteer, and now as trip leader with my husband. I can honestly say that I've never worked with an organization so committed to partnering with people to identify and achieve their goals for their families and community. Xela Aid is committed to go beyond placement of a bandaid on a wound. They work with the community to figure out how to truly fix problems
and enhance the lives of those they serve.

Why do I keep coming back to San Martín Chiquito? As a returning volunteer, I have come to love the families we serve as we develop friendships born out of working together to meet common goals and bring dreams to reality. I have worked in other countries on multiple trips, but I can honestly say, "Guatemala has my heart."

Come and join us!

5 cheryljrebs

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My family and I have just returned from our third volunteer trip with Xela-Aid in Guatemala. I cannot say enough about the quality of this organization, how well executed the trips are and the difference this non-profit makes in the lives of their recipients and volunteeers. Our group performed handyman work on the clinic, trained Mayan women in cooking techniques, taught English, shared art projects, installed clean water, taught hair cutting skills, shared knitting - there was something for everyone. We received much more than we came to share.

Xela-aid provides a great introduction to the culture and meaningful volunteer opportunities. They are an organization full of integrity and one you can trust.
We will be back!

Cheryl Carter

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4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband, two daughters and I participated in the August 2015 Xela-Aid trip. The experience has forever changed our perspective of wealth, and we are deeply grateful to both the American and Guatemalan Xela staff members. The volunteer trip provided a perfect balance of cultural immersion and service work. Leslie and staff carefully blended our talents and interests with the needs of the community in San Martin Chiquito. We went to share our talents and received far more in return. Each of us has been inspired in our own ways to carry the experience forward.; and as a family, we chose to sponsor a young woman through her university days.
Xela-Aid’s model of developing self-reliance is healthy, not simply a hand out, and develops giving and receiving. It is inspiring to see the recipients of Xela-Aid paying it forward and giving back to their Guatemalan community.
I was proud to be a part of creating healthy self-reliance within an organization full of integrity. I can wholeheartedly recommend Xela-Aid to anyone yearning to make a difference.
An unexpected bonus was spending the week with other like-minded volunteers and bonding as a group. The friendships we formed are invaluable treasures. Xela-Aid is truly an experience we can’t wait to repeat.

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I honestly cannot think of a more worthy cause this XelaAID - I just returned from a two week trip with Xela AiD to Guatemala and saw first hand what they are doing there in San Martin. What is impressive is that they do not simply provide stuff-they teach self reliance through mediums such as a co-op store that sells the wares the women make, or the pre-school (guarderia) they assist with, the computer lab, the clinic, the mental health resources they are providing is amazing. I cannot say enough about this organization.
If you're looking for a worthy cause to become a part of, you found it in Xela AID.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've never had an experience with a nonprofit the way I had with Xela AID. Everyone was so welcoming and generous. Traveling to a new place to help those less fortunate is very rewarding, but after seeing what this organization is doing, it's encouraged me to try and do more, not just for Xela AID, but for other organizations. Leslie, the founder, is the most generous, caring person I have ever met in my life. You can see how genuinely concerned she is with making Guatemala a better place and works so hard to do everything she can to achieve that. The impact this organization has on the people of San Martin and neighboring villages is amazing. People are so unaware of what's happening in these places and the help from Xela AID is so impactful. I had the time of my life volunteering with them and would absolutely do it again.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Volunteering with Xela Aid was amazing! They have all kinds of programs that you can choose from and they are very flexible if you want to change to another program. It really was a life changing experience because not only do you volunteer, but you also get to know everyone. You end up becoming a family and make bonds that will change your world. The leaders of our trip did an amazing job at immersing us into Guatemalan life and culture. One thing they did was assign us a buddy and we got to eat lunch at their home, so we were able to see how they live and connect with them on a deeper level. The leaders are what really made this trip for me, they were very kind and generous, it was all worth it!

5

Board Member

Rating: 5

I recently returned from a great trip to Guatemala with a group of volunteers for the non-profit organization, Xela AID. The trip was wonderful in so many different ways. The projects involved working in the village of Mayan indigent people in the highlands area. These were so meaningful and well planned out. The people in the village were so warm, and appreciative that the whole experience will be remembered and treasured for the rest of my years.
Xela AID is an amazing organization. I would encourage all to support it any way possible.

Previous Stories
4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I had an amazing trip with Xela AID. It is always hard to put down on paper all of the emotions and feelings one has when describing such a special trip. The opportunity for meaningful volunteer work imprints wonderful memories. The immediate connections with the kids and adults of the village will be a lasting impression that I will cherish for many years.
I loved traveling with such a caring group of volunteers and appreciate the organized excellent leadership.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Xela Aid deserves high marks for the positive effects of its presence in the community of San Martin, Guatemala. A long term commitment - by a group of dedicated individuals - has resulted in tangible and substantial improvements for the community in the areas of health, education and employment. The successes have been achieved by the combined efforts of the Xela Aid board, a devoted and capable full-time staff of local Guatemalans, partnerships with other NPOs, and organized groups of volunteers; with resources contributed by donors and grants. Xela Aid is focusing efforts and making progress toward its vision of a locally self-sufficient organization that can achieve long-term sustainability.

My experience as a volunteer was educational and enriching. The trip was was well-organized, active and enjoyable. The volunteers were eager and talented. While a single individual, volunteering for a short period of time, has a very small impact, many volunteers over many years can make a difference. Many volunteers over many years is Xela Aid’s strategy for the volunteer component of this remarkable organization.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recently returned from my first visit to Guatemala as a Xela AID volunteer. The experience was incredibly heartwarming. The impact this organization has had on the village of St Martin over the years, and what they have been able to accomplish is impressive. I felt my time there was well spent, and I left with a connection to the people in the village and my fellow volunteers; a group of friendly, hard working folks with variety of expertise. Everything you do in Guatemala is greatly appreciated.
The trip was well organized, and I can highly recommend both the organization and the service trips offered by Xela AID.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Xela Aid is full of wonderful people, both stateside and in Guatemala. The leaders of our trip did an amazing job of utilizing each volunteer's talents and bringing the group together in meaningful ways. The staff in Guatemala are warm, welcoming, talented, and passionate. Overall, the trip was a great balance of relaxing/enjoying all that Guatemala has to offer and working on projects in San Martin. I highly recommend!