Historically, Guatemala has undergone a series of radical reforms; from colonization, independence, autocracy towards democracy and economic development. After suffering the vicissitudes of the 36-year-long civil war, the nation is still experiencing a range of post-war challenges.
Chajul has been home to the Ixil community for generations and was once the target of genocide and torture during the civil war. Shattered by the war, it has been healing for 22 years. Studies reveal that In Guatemala, 62 percent of indigenous women are illiterate due to both poverty and gender inequality. Limitless Horizons Ixil (LHI) works to address these challenges.
Literacy is the basis for a nation to move forward. Considering the history of Guatemala, the impact of the war has had a great effect on the community. But now, more young children are attending classes, and learning to read at the only library in Chajul, opened by Limitless Horizons.
In addition to literacy skills, LHI offer projects and workshops for the local community which cover a wide variety of topics. The Youth Development Program (YDP) supports ambitious girls in grades seven to twelve with financial scholarships. The Emerging Leaders Program provides the YDP graduate network with career development opportunities and ongoing support during transitions to university, employment, or entrepreneurship. The Artisan Program helps mothers of the students to use traditional weaving skills to earn fair wages and contribute to their own or their children’s education.
According to Liz Haffa, Development and Communications Manager, the YDP graduates, now earn higher wages, attend university, and help make informed decisions for their families. Over 80 percent of YDP scholars have graduated from middle school, compared to 13 percent of the youth in Chajul. “When I first founded LHI, girls didn’t think they would be able to go to middle school. Now, some of those earliest scholars are the first women in Chajul ever to graduate from a university,” said Haffa. “Youth learned how to read and find joy in it, which opens doors for their futures.”
Josefina, one of the earliest students of the LHI program, came from a very large family with seven children. The family was very severely affected by the Civil War. They once lived in the mountains of Quiché but were forced to live in Chajul 25 years ago due to war violence. The family left their home, their land, and all of their belongings when they fled for their lives. Her dad, a farm labourer, saved little by little (earning about $37.50/month), and was able to buy a small plot of land. Josefina applied to an LHI scholarship without telling her parents.
When she had finished middle school and was already the most educated person in the family, and continued on to high school. Here, she excelled was elected as President of her class, while her mom worked in the Artisan Program to earn money for the family. With LHIs support, Josefina applied for university scholarships, and four years later, graduated with her degree in social work. Josefina became part of the first generation of women from Chajul to graduate from university, paving the way for her younger sibling to follow in her footsteps.
Today, she is a leader and professional in the community, working to expand entrepreneurship opportunities for the community. She is also married and the primary breadwinner in her family, When LHI was first founded, the students would say they dreamed of graduating middle school. Now, like Josefina, they want to graduate university.
The work of Limitless Horizons Ixil has not only driven change in present time but has also built a culture of reading, and a vision of a brighter future for the whole community.
PWB is excited to announce we will be partnering with Limitless Horizons Iixl on a new PWB School program for 2019. Click here to learn more and reserve your spot!