Baltazar’s Journey: from the mountain valleys of Chajul to a university scholarship in the USA

 

 

Baltazar Anay Raymundo became a Limitless Horizons Ixil scholar in 2008, when he entered middle school. He is the oldest of eight children, two of whom have also been supported through middle and high school as Limitless Horizons Ixil scholars. Baltazar has always been a passionate advocate for indigenous rights, citing Bolivia’s first indigenous President, Evo Morales, as an inspiration for his efforts to advance the socioeconomic position of indigenous communities.

Baltazar hopes to one day become a leader in Guatemala, advocating for indigenous rights.

Here is his story, in his own words.

 
 
 “Limitless Horizons Ixil has helped me, my family, and many people in my hometown of Chajul so much. Alleviating extreme poverty is challenging, and over the years, I have seen that Limitless Horizons Ixil’s programs have been successful in offering us hope.
 
Some people say that families should make the sacrifice to educate their children. However, for the majority of my people in the Ixil Region, who are farmers and live off of the land, there is little capacity for parents to financially support their children’s schooling. Although Chajul has seen more development in recent years, the vast majority still live in poverty and do not have the financial means to send their children to school, let alone university.
 
My mother has always fought for us to complete our education. Although she never had the opportunity to go to school and does not earn enough from her weaving sales to be able to support us, she was determined that I would finish primary school. However, she and my father didn’t know if I would be able to continue on to middle school.
 
I started grueling manual labor in other parts of Guatemala after finishing primary school when I was just 14 years old. We traveled many hours to other regions to harvest coffee, earning around $2 a day for harvesting 60 to 70 pounds of coffee beans. We slept in a one-room bamboo hut and ate only tortillas with beans. Then, my father heard about Limitless Horizons Ixil’s scholarships, and our dreams came trueI got the support I needed to finish middle school and go on to earn my high school degree to be a teacher. Limitless Horizons Ixil then helped me to find an opportunity to teach in an indigenous school near Guatemala City.
 
Baltazar (top left) and his family in 2008, his first year as an LHI scholar
 
During this time, I learned more about the reality for indigenous peoples and realized that it’s not enough to get a degree; but rather, we also need to find practical ways to apply itSince primary school, I have loved social sciences. When I started university, I decided to study politics with a concentration in international politics. With political power and representation in government, indigenous peoples will be able to have more influence on national politics in Guatemala.
 
This belief has been my motivation. With the support that my family and I received from Limitless Horizons Ixil, as well as the support I have received from my sponsor, my brothers and sisters and I have been able to continue our studies. We can live frugally and without many expenses, but if we have purpose, we can be creative and find ways to keep going.
 
While I was studying, I realized I would need to learn English to be a politician. After a year-long application process, in 2019 I was granted a scholarship to study at Troy University in Alabama, and so I attended university in the USA.
 
 
Baltazar on a visit to the UN Security Council in New York, November 2019
 

I am now back in Guatemala and preparing to finish my studies at San Carlos University in Guatemala City. I will graduate with a Bachelor of International Relations after completing my practicum and thesis. I am already thinking of possible topics for my thesis such as the incidence in politics of indigenous peoples, or the economics of indigenous peoples.
 
Two of my siblings have also been able to graduate with Limitless Horizons Ixil’s support. As the eldest, I always say to my younger brothers and sisters that they have to fight and stick with it. I remind them that they will find a way to achieve their dreams. 
 
I want to tell you all how important Limitless Horizons Ixil has been for my family, for me, and for all of Chajul. In fact, it has been essential for Chajul to begin to raise itself out of extreme povertyFor me, it certainly hasn’t been an easy path, but with the support of Limitless Horizons Ixil, myself and my community are achieving our goals and changing our realities.”