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.
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!
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.
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.
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
There are many projects and organizations that compete for our attention and our money. Many are definitely worthwhile investing on, and they do a good job in their fields. However, I have never belonged to an organization whose work has positively changed so many lives, permanently, in transformational ways, and I include my own life in this change. Organizations that focus on the balance between Education, Health, Environmental Sustainability, and Work Opportunities are seldom found in the developing world. Xela AID believes that there can’t be real development in any community if one or more of these elements are missing. It is like a four-legged stool. If you want the stool to go higher and higher, you have to elevate all four legs simultaneously, or risk upsetting the balance and even fall. This is what Xela AID does, quietly, consistently, year after year, with the help of a small and dedicated staff and hundreds of volunteers. Xela AID has changed the lives of hundreds of children, many of them now productive adults, through education scholarships, giving them the opportunity to learn and aspire to a better life. Xela AID has accompanied their scholarships with holistic health programs for the children and their families, improving their lives so they can learn better and become productive citizens. Xela AID has provided, through micro-loans and other programs, opportunities for women and youth to develop their own businesses and support themselves and their families through their own efforts and creativity. And Xela AID has invested in developing strategies for environmental health in their communities, from clean water, to waste management, improvements to homes and much more. Xela AID is a model for how development aid should be. Your support for this organization will help expand and replicate this successful model to other communities in Guatemala and beyond. And your life will be changed by your involvement. Irreversibly and for the better. Whether you go on a volunteer trip once, become a long-term supporter and a donor, or become part of the leadership of the organization, your life will never be the same again. Your heart will expand in your chest and it will hurt, and you will do things you never thought you could do. And you will make friends for life, expand your horizons beyond belief; and you will become a better person too.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
I have just returned from an amazing trip working in Guatemala with Xela Aid. I have been before, in fact many times, but every trip brings new satisfaction in seeing how this group has expanded their horizons and included extra projects that have literally changed the lives of the people living in San Martine Chiquito. This trip I taught some of the women to make candy and cookies that they might be able to sell to earn some money. It was so much fun to share their kitchen, their experiences, and their great sense of humour and friendship. I was also able to dispense reading glasses to about 50 people who needed single vision readers to enable them to continue to sew, weave, or read. It's a privilege to be a part of Xela Aid and to make a difference in the lives of those we work with. It has definitely changed my life.
Xela AID 06/27/2014
Dear Colleen, The women of the village are still talking about your baking workshop, and want to know when you will be back to teach them new recipes. Their only complaint was that they would have liked to have another WEEK with you! Perhaps this can be arranged in the near future. Thank you for your many years of loving participation in Xela AID service projects, and as a member of our Board. Warmly, Leslie Baer Dinkel Executive Director Xela AID
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.