Written by Alana Jolley

October 11, 2013


I have been associated with Xela-Aid for many years in various capacities:  as a humanitarian volunteer teaching health seminars,  conducting anthropometry studies as an intern, helping with women’s health exams, and providing infant packs for the newborns in the village of San Martin Chiquito, Guatemala.

I have seen their organization grow from one volunteer program per year, to several per year today.  Xela-Aid has helped women help themselves by forming indigenous weaving cooperatives and other craft oriented activities.  Leslie Baer Dinkel, founder and director began with a few volunteers and a small donation from a relative.  Leslie, and the Xela-Aid organization, over two decades, have helped thousands of adults and children gain self-reliance through educational programs by partnering with the local residents of the villages that are served.


NGO Humanitarian Group

Xela-Aid (pronounced shay-luh) is a Non-Governmental Organization developed for promoting self-reliance, among the Maya, in villages in the highlands of Guatemala.  They have been accomplishing just that for over 20 years! Volunteers with Xela-Aid strive to be a model for sustainable community development worldwide, by working with the local cultures to provide health and well-being that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

Their Mission and Vision

Xela AID empowers children and their families to break the cycle of poverty and to live healthier, more abundant lives through the opportunities afforded by education. / “We aspire to ensure that every child in our focus area is educated, and every family is safe, healthy, well-nourished, and equipped to be self-reliant; and to profoundly enrich the lives of volunteers.”  (Leslie Baer Dinkel, founder and director)

Xela-Aid provides educational scholarships and partners, locally, to remove the health, environmental and socio-economic barriers to well-being and learning. They pursue an integrated model of community development, and solutions that are comprehensive, sustainable, scalable and transferable. / Xela AID recognizes that education is key to overcoming poverty and to creating abundance. Through their work-study program, tutoring, leadership training and programs to remove obstacles to learning, they work to change the world for the better one person at a time.  Please visit their website at  https://www.xelaaid.org.

The following video is a short visual ethnography about the people that Xela-Aid and their world-wide volunteers serve.


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