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News from Guatemala: April 4, 2016
"“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

Xela AID: Wild Alaska

Xela AID’s new travel program featuring exciting adventures and meaningful fellowship with old and new Xela AID friends launches this fall with Wild Alaska. Join us for a 9-day 8-night trip aboard the cruise ship Norwegian Jewel. You’ll spend your time exploring, laughing and relaxing with Xela AID friends, old and new. Trip runs Sept. 2-10, 2016. Contact Scott Dennis to book today!
Phone: 626-627-9021

Calling All Xela AID Angels!

There are a number of children on Xela AID’s waiting list who are eager to go to school or continue in school. You can make their dream come true by sponsoring them, and becoming a Xela AID Angel. Click below to meet children on our Waiting List. Sponsoring is as easy as clicking through to make your tax deductible donation. Questions? e-mail
View Waiting List

Support Us Through Amazon!

You can support Xela AID by purchasing through “Amazon Smile.” That means your birthday, anniversary, Christmas gifts and everyday purchases can benefit Xela AID a full 5%, at no cost to you! Just go to on your computer or hand-held device, and when it asks you to select a charity, type in “Xela AID Partnerships for Self Reliance” and select. Go to each time you shop and you’ll be shopping for good!
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In our last newsletter you read about Xela AID’s most recent volunteer trip in March where VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) provided sight-saving and sight-restoring services to nearly 600 people! Six additional volunteers pursued other exciting projects chronicled below.

Class is in Session

Photo: Lindsay Mattingly and Xela AID Leaders enjoy ESL class.
In March, Lindsay Mattingly brought her years of teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) to excited students of San Martín Chiquito. Mattingly taught English to two local grade school classrooms (children ages 9-12), as well as to students in Xela AID’s Leadership Training program. With the English language as a tool, students hope to be able to pursue special opportunities open to bilingual Spanish-English speakers. The children were exceedingly grateful to Lindsay, and Xela AID, too, thanks her for her amazing job at teaching!

Potable Water and a Fuel-Efficient Stove
for Xela AID Headquarters

Photo: (From left to right) Elmer Mazariegos, Frisly Perez, Carlos Ramirez and Mel Dinkel display an assembled water filter before installation.
During his recent visit to Guatemala, Xela AID CFO/COO Mel Dinkel installed a clean water system in Xela AID’s new Betty Rikalo Welcome Center on the third floor of its headquarters. “The filter creates drinkable water straight from the faucet, representing the first clean-water faucet in the village,” said Leslie Baer, Xela AID executive director. Prior to use, the new water source is being tested by staff to ensure the filter’s effectiveness.
Fuel-efficient stoves were next on Mel’s list at the request of Xela AID Chair Sue Rikalo. He worked closely with a local builder to retrofit the headquarters’ second-floor stove which is used by Xela AID’s live-in caretakers. “The design not only uses two-thirds less wood, but it significantly reduces cooking smoke which causes respiratory diseases,” noted Dinkel. Xela AID Weaving Cooperative and Welcome Center Coordinator Luciana Perez tested the stove and reported that it was working wonderfully. “I want mine retrofitted next!” Luciana said.
Dinkel also completed wall mounting the beautiful, large-scale mural painted by artists Kevin Macpherson and Joel Heger of the Popol Vuh, the Mayan creation story. He mounted it in Xela AID’s third floor Betty Rikalo Welcome Center, adding a wow factor to the room.
Xela AID thanks Mel and helper Carlos Ramirez for all of their dedicated work.

Montessori Teachers in Training

Photo: Sherry Robin enjoying time with a local pre-schooler.
Xela AID Board Member Sherry Robin used her passion for education to lead a special project aimed at preparing the youngest members of the village community. Sherry is currently sponsoring three women to train to become Montessori instructors and one day work at Xela AID's future Montessori pre-school which will serve children ages 2-5. On her recent visit to Guatemala, Sherry and the trainees decided to set up a small practice center in the home of one of the trainees to put in action all that the women are learning.
“It is important for the women to practice what they are learning in order to retain it,” noted Sherry. The practice facility will serve 12 students and will feature tiny tables, chairs and Montessori practice materials that help children to build hand-eye coordination.
Sherry has been a great support system for the trainees as she continues to encourage them as they progress. And her generosity has not ended there: During the March volunteer trip, she also donated a sewing machine for the women of Xela AID’s Literacy Program to use.
Thank you Sherry for all you do!

Stunning Photos Tell the Story

As a member of Xela AID’s March volunteer trip, Savannah Brooke lived her passion for storytelling, social justice, photo journalism, social media and more. She documented the entire trip, and posted her inspiring photos all along the way, engaging more than 4,000 people on Facebook at one point in the trip.
Xela AID is further excited to report that Savannah agreed to sign on as Xela AID's Social Media Manager. “I am eager for the opportunity to showcase the work of Xela AID and the people of San Martín through photography and a compelling social media presence,” she said. Help tell the Xela AID story by remembering to Like and Share Savannah's photos on Facebook!

New Kitchen, New Recipes, Big Smiles 

Photo: (From left to right) Eluvia Mencho, Cheryl Carter, Leslie Baer Dinkel, Sharon Fuentes and Luciana Perez showing off their delicious New Orlean's rum cakes.
For years, Luciana Perez, master weaver, and other women of the village have prepared meals for volunteers that visit Xela AID headquarters. But groups have gotten bigger and more frequent, and the tiny space previously used became inadequate. The Betty Rikalo Welcome Center which was inaugurated several months ago has a fully functioning kitchen that includes plenty of space and quality cooking implements to whip up delicious recipes in comfort.
Perez is enjoying the new space, and her new role coordinating use of the kitchen and maintenance. During the March trip, Cheryl Carter — owner of Johnny Rebs restaurants in Southern California — worked one-on-one with Luciana to further her knowledge of food preparation, alternative recipes, presentation and equipment use and maintenance. Cheryl’s recipes were taste-tested by volunteers who gave testimony with broad smiles. Garlic mashed potatoes, baked cabbage, carrots with a secret sauce, a recipe for New Orlean's rum cake (ala Helen Dinkel), and Cheryl’s unbelievably moist carrot cake will certainly be added to the menu ("Pineapple is the secret," Cheryl says.)
As a special treat, volunteers surprised Luciana with a trip to a cooking school in prep for “The Comal at San Martin Chile Verde” — a restaurant and cooking school planned for the future to be located at Xela AID headquarters.
Thank you for your interest and support!
Our mailing address is:
Xela AID Partnerships For Self Reliance
111 W. Ocean Blvd.
4th Floor
Long Beach, CA 90802

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