About Project Somos
We’ve come a long way
In early 2011, Project Somos co-founders Heather Knox and Greg Kemp took 145 acres of newly donated land in the Guatemalan highlands and began work to establish a children’s village and an organic farm to partially support it.
Today Project Somos is home to families, the land is transformed, and the lives of many young Guatemalans have been positively impacted.
- Two family homes have been built using eco-friendly technology, housing up to six families of widowed or abandoned mothers and their children.
- The Village is enclosed in a security wall, encircled by fruit trees and food plants, has a playground, preschool, soccer field, vegetable garden and even… a pizza oven.
- After several crops of corn, the Guatemalan staple, more nutritious and value-added quinoa and black beans are now being harvested to provide food for the families and revenue for the Village.
- Voluntourism is bringing in students, families and other groups of volunteers to help build the Village and engage with the children. Comfortable “glamping” accommodations have been constructed just outside the Village.
- Somos Mamas’ beautifully handcrafted ornaments are being sold at Fiestas, local fairs and online to raise money for Project Somos and for the mothers themselves.
- A community hall with panoramic view terraces, showers, and big kitchen serves as a gathering place for the families or volunteers, and can be rented for weddings, retreats and meetings.
- We are fortunate to have earned the friendship and support of our community in Chivarabal and Tecpán.
- Most important, children and their mothers have benefited from a stable, caring environment, healthy food, life skills and vocational training for the mamas, and education for the children.
Headed in a strong new direction
We set out to provide homes with foster mothers for orphans, of which UNICEF estimates there are 360,000 in Guatemala. But while we built, it became clear that we could do much, much more by helping keep families together: orphan prevention.
Starting in 2014, we offered homes to young widowed or abandoned mothers who were living in extreme poverty, and so were at risk of losing their children. Two or three mothers and their children live in each house, share housework, and learn skills to help them become self-sufficient and able to move back into the community within two to three years.
This innovative and more complex model has required more resources to help the mothers move on from the very difficult circumstances they found themselves in. We now have a Guatemalan therapist and psychologist, as well as a “mamas’ mama” to mentor them in the basics of nutrition, literacy and parenting. We have an on-site preschool, and older children attend the local public school.
Our staff members are all Guatemalan and we do everything we can to help the mothers maintain and live by their own culture and traditions.
We see the children start to thrive and the mothers grow in self-confidence. Our vision is to help break the cycle of poverty, and we know there will be a ripple effect from these women.
We have added a staff person to grow our social enterprises. A donated solar system will help save on utility costs by 2016. What we need most is the financial ability to increase the number of families we can help. Please consider making a donation.