LHI Blog: Voices from Chajul

Not Leaving Yet

By Lindsay Renaud, Operations Associate

I can’t believe it! A year has already gone by since I first hobbled off the rickety “chicken” bus in Chajul, with both of my legs tingling after six hours squeezed into the seats of a former US school bus. (It would quickly become apparent that this was not the only obstacle a 6-foot-tall gal would face here.) My year has flown by, and as of August, I will become LHI’s first international staff member to extend her 13-month contract. This decision wasn’t a complete no-brainer – flea infestations, high levels of noise pollution, the long rainy season, and giving up many luxuries are just some of the challenges that many international staff face living in the Ixil region. But these challenges don’t compare to the incredible value of being part of the LHI community.

Since day one, Edilma, Verónica, and the entire LHI staff have opened their arms to me. Our local staff has been incredibly patient in supporting my ascent up the seemingly endless learning curve of understanding the complexities of the unique Chajul community. My fellow international co-worker, Laura, has been an invaluable partner as she makes the climb alongside me. Together, our team has been an unstoppable force this past year. After hours of passionate, thoughtful, and honest conversations; lots of tortilla-powered energy; and persistence and great teamwork, we have further deepened the impact of LHI’s programs and increased the efficiency with which we provide them.

Lindsay and friends at the Saber Sin Límites Library

And then, of course, there are the young faces of Chajul. I am inspired by the LHI youth who, despite all of the barriers they face, try so hard to do well in school and the eager library members who are so dedicated to learning to read. Just the other day, I found a child sitting in the library with a 3-inch-thick Jules Verne novel open in front of her, and she declared to me with determination, “with this book, I will learn to read!”

Last but certainly not least, there has been your support, LHI donors and volunteers, who have opened your hearts and wallets for those in a far-away place many know little about.

No, now is definitely not the time to pack my bags – not with the great momentum we have going. We have plans to introduce terrific new literacy programming in the library and have more trainings to plan for our students in the Youth Development Program. The joys of being part of this wonderful community far outweigh the challenges, and in the end, the only real problem with staying on longer is that each day additional day I spend here will just make it that much harder to eventually leave.

Respond to Lindsay’s blog entry at

[email protected]limitlesshorizonsixil.org