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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Services

Mission: Xela AID empowers children and their families to break the cycle of poverty and to live healthier, more abundant lives through the opportunities afforded by education.

Results: A sampling. Since its inception in 1992, Xela AID's 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

68 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

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.

1

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

2

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.

2

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.

4

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.

2

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.

3

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.

3

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.

3

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!

2 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.

Previous Stories
1

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!

1

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.

Lori K.1

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.

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

Previous Stories
4

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

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1

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


1

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.

1

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.

2

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.

1

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.

2

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!

2

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!