For those who may be following Project Somos on Facebook or the various website updates, some may have the idea that we may be enjoying a carefree life in a spring-like paradise, enjoying cheap beer and good coffee – living the “good life” It was pointed out to us that in our reporting of the development of the Children’s Village, it may give the impression that we may have retired and are pursuing our “hobby”.
For the sake of offering a more complete picture of what we actually do here on the ground to the faithful, generous and enthusiastic supporters of Somos, I will attempt to give a snapshot of what happens on a day to day basis for Heather/Alicia and I. I will preface the outline below by saying that we love the work and we rarely have any discontent other than our own impatience with wanting to have the kids living in the Village – now.
This week, the Somos Tecpán house has 6 volunteers. I am the house handyman and currently Alicia and I “orient” everyone to the practicalities of living here. On the land there are another 16 volunteers working, which falls to me to organize in coordination with our foreman and work team. The logistics are always challenging and present themselves daily.
I am the guy who orders & pays for the tools & materials, organizes the numerous receipts for our bookkeeper, cuts the cheques for our employees, keeps Chuck the truck running, and is the designated driver for any trip. There are meetings with the Board, our architect, the mayors and councils, our foreman, the workers, our long and short term volunteers, our Executive Director, our two lawyers, accountant, and those local folks interested, who come for a tour. I also worked in somewhat extreme frustration to import and license our truck, Chuck, (now Carlos) and register Project Somos as a Guatemalan NGO. (Asociación Somos)
Between or despite the meetings, my other project work includes finding innovative ways to overcome construction challenges, researching and keeping ahead of what is next in our building step – i.e. finding ways not to use too much cement or tile in our floor or finding a good source of windows and doors. Not much online info here for suppliers and no yellow pages – a lot of leg work. I am currently working with our architect on a new design for the family homes that could reduce their cost by up to $10K. Stayed tuned. The Community hall and cabanas are in the design phase as well as brainstorming on the admin building. I also sit on the Board of Directors of Compassion Fruit Society and work with Alicia on fundraising and donor relations.
Having said this I can tell you that Alicia works tirelessly in the administrative end as Executive Director. She is always occupying the digital world, presenting photos, blogs and web updates. She coordinates the work with Stratosphere International and El Camino VolunTours to schedule and arrange group visits. Another logistic miracle. She is compiling our extensive application for the Guatemalan government in order to receive children. It is extremely detailed and comprehensive, requiring large amounts of time and focus. Her local community development is awe-inspiring and she is loved by everyone she meets. Anyone that knows Heather Alicia understands her deep spontaneous empathy for others that makes a heart impact on others. Alicia’s day begins early and finishes in front of either her computer or iPad. She has also enrolled in an online grant writing course and also studies Spanish daily. I may be biased but I can say that she is a great living example of pure dedication to this Project and perhaps puts too much of her time and energy in every day.
We have the good fortune to have a Board of Directors and Advisors as well as a wide circle of dedicated supporters that also give their valuable time, energy and resources to the Project Somos Children’s Village. They are the less visible, unselfish heroes in this and deserve the recognition because Alicia and I could never do this alone without them. Thousands of volunteer hours have been lovingly given to germinate this vision and now it is coming to life. I am always humbled by their faith, generosity and perseverance.
I believe we are living the good life, not because of our beautiful geographical location or cheap cappuccinos, but because of the great circle of people we have the good fortune to work with to achieve this vision to uplift abandoned kids in Guatemala. I am convinced that it is in giving that we receive and I measure my wealth by my beloved friends and associates.
It is not just a good life, it is a great life.