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