Insulated and isolated by gorgeous mountains and grueling terrain, the Ixil region of Guatemala is rich with Mayan culture. Women still wear brilliantly-colored, handwoven huipiles, cortes, and head wraps and spend their days operating back-strap looms, collecting firewood, and cooking over open fires to turn their masa into tortillas for their families.

As is true throughout much of Guatemala, men are often absent during the day, farming corn and coffee high in the mountains. While the region is culturally rich, most of Ixil is resource poor. A stronghold for insurgent and counter-insurgent operations during decades of civil war, much of the region’s adult population has been traumatized by their past, while Ixil’s youth know little of the war nor of its impact on the future – herein lies an incredible opportunity for this remote Guatemalan region.

Philanthropiece first became acquainted with the Ixil region in 2008 through Limitless Horizons Ixil (LHI), then a small, volunteer-run organization attempting to address the lack of educational opportunities for the generations of youth growing up after the war. Philanthropiece’s partnership with LHI has been a catalyst for collaboration with other organizations and community members. Together we have tackled sustainable agriculture projects, environmental awareness campaigns, and literacy initiatives. In an effort to empower local changemakers, our Philanthropiece Scholars program provides opportunities for Chajul’s best and brightest students to not only continue their education, but also to receive professional training and experience that will enable them to step into leadership positions in their home towns.