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News from Guatemala: February 20, 2017
Little Jennifer
with volunteer Jo Kassel
“The fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace, and peace begins with a smile.”
-Mother Teresa

Ohana Dorantes Reporting

 Ohana with preschooler at
Xela AID’s San Martín
Tots Preschool. 
Ohana Dorantes is hooked on service. She took her second volunteer trip with Xela AID in 2016, and participated in education projects ranging from teaching 6th grade ESL to making art with our preschoolers. She also helped distribute water filters and worked in a near-vision clinic where approximately one hundred people received reading glasses that in some cases put them back to work weaving and doing other close-up work—the gift of sight for about $3. 

Ohana, a budding reporter, was so deeply moved by her experiences in San Martín that she decided to write an article about Xela AID for her school newspaper.  
“I will always be extremely grateful to Xela AID for my experiences in Guatemala,” she writes. “The trip helped connect me more to my culture, changed my perspective and opened my eyes in ways I could not have imagined. There is nothing more fascinating and incredible than the power of human connection despite cultural differences that may exist.”  

Here you can read

Learn more or sign up for
an upcoming Xela AID 
Service Project HERE


Speed Bumps, Signage
a Safety Priority 

 Xela AID staff paint a speed
bump in front of a local school
Sadly, this month a child crossing the street to go to a school nearby Xela AID headquarters was hit by a car. The child later died of injuries.
“It is necessary to build additional speed bumps and post signs to slow drivers down,” Xela AID’s Luis Enrique de León notes. Local authorities don’t have the resources, but the Xela AID staff in Guatemala are taking action.
First, the team painted an existing speed bump. Using emergency funds, Xela AID staff will next work with the local community to install additional speed bumps and signage—including speed bumps in front of Xela AID headquarters.
“With additional speed bumps and signage we will be able to keep more children safe,” Luis notes.
Xela AID’s Emergency Fund is made possible by its generous donors like you. Thank you! 

Upcoming Clean Water Project Featured

This year, Xela AID will work with the Rotary Club of Avalon, the local Quetzaltenango Rotary Club, and four other Rotary Clubs from Southern California to bring clean water and sanitary bathroom facilities to 15,000 people in Xela AID’s service area.
The upcoming project was featured in a recent edition of Nuestro Diario which is distributed throughout Guatemala. 

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Xela AID Distributes
200 Bags of School Supplies

 Local kids excitedly receiving school supplies. 
It started with a mother and her three children. They arrived by microbus after traveling 40 minutes from Tui Pic, an extremely poor village in Xela AID’s service area. Her aim was to speak with Luis Enrique de León, Xela AID’s director in Guatemala.
She came representing forty children. She told Luis the children of Tui Pic’s grade school couldn’t continue to study because they had zero supplies—no pencils, paper, notebooks, school books—absolutely nothing.

Luis went to work. He called friends. He put an announcement on Facebook. He called on Xela AID’s Young Leaders group to collect small amounts of money around town. Soon, his efforts were rewarded.
"With the donated supplies and money, we were able to assemble 200 bags of school supplies," Luis says. And it was enough to share with another very poor school located in the village of La Cumbre and with children in Xela AID's educational programs. 
But one case stands out for Luis. “There was a woman who her husband left abandoned with 13 children,” he says. “The children were very, very happy—incredibly happy—to receive their school bags. And the mother, well, she cried.”
While children in Xela AID’s education programs attend school an average of 13 years, rural Guatemalan children in the general population attend school an average of only four years. There is still much work to do.

 Xela AID’s “Magic of Love” Event Raises Money to Build Montessori Preschool

 Juggler Lindsay Benner dazzled the crowd. 
It was standing room only in the historic Brookledge Theatre—a magical evening to be sure.
Last Sunday, Erika Larsen of Hollywood’s Magic Castle fame hosted an afternoon gala to raise funds to build a new and much anticipated Xela AID Montessori preschool in San Martín. The event took place at the exclusive Brookledge Theater in Los Angeles, known as the “most famous address in magic.”
Guests were greeted with libations and delicious food. After guests had mingled and placed their bids on silent auction items, they were escorted into the theater for the live entertainment show that included an ensemble of magicians, singers, comedy acts, contortionists and more! 
More than 70 people filled the theatre, and after the performances, guests enjoyed coffee, tea, and tasty deserts and lingered several hours.
Xela AID thanks the following people for making this amazing night of entertainment and charitable work possible:  

Erika Larsen for hosting this truly exceptional and successful gala. Each of the amazing performers who donated their talents, including:  Steve Valentine – Magician, Lindsay Benner – Juggler, Bonnie Morgan – Contortionist, Liberty Larsen – Singer and Magician, Derek Hughes – Magician, Timur – Opera Singer, Michael Rayner - Comedian/Juggler, Kristian Hoffman - Music Director, and Stuart Anderson and Tom Ruff who ran sound and lighting. Dan Castenada provided his talents as event photographer.

The following people donated their time and vast talents, and we thank them all!

Xela AID Board Member Leon Kaplan who worked with Xela AID to arrange the event and provided major support; Xela AID Board Member Cheryl Carter and Johnny Rebs' True South Restaurants who provided the absolutely delicious food and dessert, and Board Chair Sue Rikalo who also provided dessert; Ron and Xiomara Truppa and the Catlina Film Festival for the fantastic assortment of liquor, and for tending bar; Ashley Parker Snider and Fess Parker Wines for the outstanding wine selection; and Xela AID Program Coordinator Alicia Wesley and Board Member/Treasurer Mel Dinkel for event coordination, logistics, signage and other preparation.

Thank you, too, to our auction Item donors: Cliff Hague and the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park; April de Leon and The Broad MuseumLeon Kaplan for Mayan weavings, Kathy and Amy Logan of Joji Bags, Plein-Air artist Kevin Macpherson, the Baer-Dinkel Trust for the vacations at La Casa Sirena on beautiful Catalina Island, and artist Guillermo Bert for his beautiful live-auctioned Mayan Encoded Textile image.

In total, the event raised an impressive $64,213, surpassing its original goal by a full $14,000. Just $147,000 to go in this phase of the building project!
Check out our Facebook album

 Welcome Maria Julia Donis Barillas 

Maria Julia’s story is one of triumph and tenacity. She grew up in town called Las Nubes where the closest private high school that would prepare her for college is an hour away by bus. She is the oldest of six children and a hard worker. When she is not at school or doing homework, she helps at home with the cooking, cleaning, and hand washing of clothes. Her dream has always been to go to college and become qualified for a career where she can help others.
Maria Julia was accepted into Xela AID’s Leaders in Training Program in 2013. Each weekday during the next three years, Maria Julia was up at 4 a.m. to do chores and left home at 6 a.m. to catch a bus and arrive at her school by 7 a.m. She studied daily until 5 p.m., then made the one-hour journey back to the village. As part of the agreement for her Xela AID educational scholarship, she also spent four hours each weekend sharing her good fortune by tutoring younger students.
On October 21st, 2016, all Maria Julia’s hard work paid off. Maria Julia graduated high school with honors—in fact, top in her class!
This month, Maria Julia was recruited to work as an administrative assistant at Xela AID headquarters while she goes to college. Her responsibilities are to organize and control files, process and make payments, assist Xela AID’s Director Luis Enrique de León and Subdirector Lucky Gonzalez with needed reports and other duties as assigned. She will also be improving her English by practicing 30 minutes each day with Lucky who is fluent, and using computer programs and books. 
“Maria Julia will be an exceptional help to Xela AID operations, and we are very excited to have her on board,” Luis noted.
Xela AID thanks Board Chair Sue Rikalo for making Maria Julia’s education possible as her sponsor through our Work Study Scholarship Program, and through her support for Xela AID's Leadership Training Program. Sue's investment will pay by dividends, not only for Maria Julia, but for her future family. Statistically, women who are educated also educate their children, breaking the cycle of poverty. 
To sponsor a child click HERE 

Here you can learn more about the
Work Study Scholarship Program (WSS) 
August Volunteer Service
Trip Accepting Applications!
 Antigua is the first stop on the August trip.
August 26-September 3, 2017
9 days - $1519 – Trip Details 
Open to public
Leaders Mel Dinkel and Leslie Baer Dinkel. Contact. 

This summer is coming sooner than you think! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to join us on this life-changing project in Guatemala.
You will learn about other people, places, and about yourself! In the village of San Martín Chiquito, use your skills and talents and work side by side with children and families who speak Mám, the local indigenous language.
You can lead a project using your professional or personal expertise to help make a positive impact on the lives of families in Guatemala or assist in a project designed and led by Xela AID staff. For R&R, we’ll explore beautiful Antigua and enjoy two exciting days at the luxurious Casa Del Mundo, located on the shores of Lake Atitlan.
Fun R&R activities include a visit to chocolate and jade museums in Antigua and the Mayan ruins at Iximche, as well as kayaking, zip lining, hiking or volcano hiking for the adventurous, and lounging by the hotel hot tub and pool at Lake Atitlan. Says trip leader Mel Dinkel, “This work changed my life, and I believe it will bring new meaning to yours.”
This trip is filling fast, so reserve your space today!

> Use our Online Application, or

> Print, fill out and return our Paper Application.
Thank you for your interest and support!
Our mailing address is:
Local Hope - Guatemala's Xela AID Partnerships For Self Reliance
65 Pine Ave. #404
Long Beach, CA 90802

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