Mercedes is our Mamas’ Mama — part teacher, part Grandma. She mentors the young mothers in household skills, grocery shopping and parenting, and hands out plenty of hugs.
Mercedes qualified as a nurse assistant before leaving to devote herself to raising a family. She’s was a single parent to five children and is now grandmother to seven.
“I believe in education with firm rules, but especially with love.”
Maria Alicia Choc
Ali is the Preschool Teacher at the Childrens’ Village. She teaches 3 to 6 year olds and has a young son of her own. She came to Project Somos after working with preschoolers in Camino Seguro and lives Santo Domingo Xenacoj.
“I love my work and ‘my’ children at Project Somos,” she says. “I can speak my first language here, Kaqchikel, and wear my traditional dress. The atmosphere is great: you can feel the peace and tranquility, breathe the pure air, and show the children how we can coexist with nature, including cultivating our own food.”
Antolin Gonzales is the construction foreman of the Project Somos Children’s Village. As an orphaned child himself, Antolin feels that his mission in the Project is not only to lead the team of workers by teaching and developing new construction techniques, but also to create buildings full of hope for the future.
Antolin is a skilled weaver, farmer, builder, proud parent of four, and Mayan spiritual guide. He has founded and participated in several organizations that support the preservation and transmission of ancestral knowledge. He is an award-winning and sought-after advisor to the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and a variety of major archeology and anthropology projects on the correct application of Mayan ancestral wisdom.
Carly is our Fund Development Manager working out of Vancouver, BC. Carly comes to us as a donation herself – her part-time position is sponsored by the SpencerCreo Foundation, one of our earliest and biggest supporters.
Before taking on her new role in donor engagement, Carly wrote several grants for Project Somos, helped organize our annual Grand Fiesta gala, and spent time on-site in Guatemala. During that time, she also worked for Social Venture Partners Vancouver as a Communications Coordinator.
Carly enthuses, “I share the same contagious passion for Project Somos as our supporters, and I’m grateful and eager for the opportunity to put my energy into the Village’s long-term sustainability.”
Trained as an accountant and auditor, Claudia began working with Project Somos as a volunteer translator and bookkeeper in 2011 and now manages our Guatemalan accounting, liaising with Canada. She also coordinates logistics for volunteers coming to Project Somos.
Claudia is the mother of two little daughters.
Marelyne is Project Somos’ therapist. She grew up in a home full of love with discipline and moral values throughout her life. She is a graduate of the early education program and loves interaction with children.
Marelyne worked as a preschool teacher while completing her degree in psychology and learning disabilities. She has worked in different institutions helping children with eating disorders, developmental disabilities, hearing and children with autism. She has also helped children and adolescents with emotional problems and before joining Project Somos, she worked as a school counselor at a private school in Tecpan.
Marelyne’s therapy focus with Project Somos is to guide the project mothers to give love and non-corporal discipline to their children while teaching them to overcome conflicts of family and cultural violence in their lives and help children in their family integration, school and social areas.
Marelyne likes walking, reading, watching movies with her family, reading to her daughter and listening to music.
The Project Somos workers are incredible. They are a dedicated team that has built 11 buildings in the past six years. They currently are working on a Medical Clinic/Neighborhood House and will begin the fourth Family Home in June 2017. All the team lives in the local community or the nearby town of Tecpan and most have families that they support. They are hard working, resilient, open to new ideas and construction techniques. They have become experts in sustainable building in Guatemala and take great pride in their work. Project Somos is lucky to have them working with us.