You may have noticed the disclaimer at the end of show, The Project- Guatemala. It goes something like this; “this program does not reflect a normal volunteer experience of Project Somos.” This is an important fact to realize and there are a few reasons why it was not the “normal” volunteer experience.
First let me state the obvious, this was filmed as a television show, and although it is a “reality” show, it is all about entertainment, it is not a documentary. Six episodes of 42 edited minutes each, does not begin to capture the entire story of 42 days – it is the story magic of television.
Second, these volunteers did not really make a “free” choice to participate in helping build a Community Hall for Project Somos. They made a choice to be on TV, first and foremost. They were enticed by the promise of an indulgent luxury vacation. If they had been presented with a choice to live in hell for 42 days and be on TV, would they have chosen to do so? Probably.
Of the 300 volunteers that Project Somos has hosted in the last three years, 99% sincerely and unselfishly wanted to assist without any promise of reward of fame or fortune. They wanted to humbly do what they could to make the world a better place for those who are not as privileged as most Canadians.
For anyone travelling to Guatemala or a “developing country”, it can be a shock. It shakes one’s world view and even one’s self-identity. Actually seeing people living in poverty, children suffering from malnutrition and skeleton-like dogs scavenging in the streets, is not what most people are used to observing in Canada. It can be devastatingly transforming to see how most of the world actually lives everyday
I am grateful to the cast of The Project-Guatemala for the contribution while working at Project Somos. With our 14 workers, they will assist us to provide a gathering place for the mothers and children who will live in the Village. If completed, the building will also help toward making Project Somos Children’s Village financially sustainable, by offering and a source of operational income by the rental of this facility for special events such as weddings and conferences.
Did the cast of The Project – Guatemala have a “normal” volunteer experience? No. Did they receive some transformational benefit from their “reality” experience with Project Somos? I sincerely hope so – humanity needs them to be change-makers for the many global problems we face. Mahatma Gandhi said, “become the change you want to see in the world.” May all of them see the change needed in the world and become that change.
-Greg Kemp, Project Manager