Holiday Time at Project Somos

 

 

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Burning the Devil Celebration

At this time of the year at Project Somos, we embrace local customs and share some of our own.

On December 7th, Guatemala celebrates “Burning the Devil.” We celebrated with our own take on this tradition and gathered all the mamas and kids on our patio that evening. In our “fire-pit” we burned some of this past year’s old paper, etc. The mamas wrote things on paper that they wanted to let go of and threw them into the fire! We gathered around the fire, ate cookies I had baked and enjoyed each other’s company.

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Felty Sales!

For the last number of weeks, our mamas have been heading out on weekends to sell their needle and wet-felted handicrafts. Tecpan is known for its Christmas Tree Farms (four that I know of!) and we were invited to set up a booth at one of them. We have also been selling at one of the many highway roadside restaurants!

We host weekly Christmas movies to the local kids who arrive on Thursday afternoons in sibling groups with children as young as three!

We decorate our outdoor Norfolk pine-tree with all the mamas and kids and together decorate each of the homes in secret with the mamas so that when the kids wake in the morning their house is magically decorated for Christmas.

We have gift exchanges, potluck dinner and Winter Solstice celebrations with the mamas, kids and all the staff that work with the families. The workers have their own party and then one with their families.

All the children receive new outfits for the holidays. There are two varieties: typical Guatemalan “trajes” (suits) for the girls and new dress shirts for the boys and velvet/velour party dresses or shirts and shoes (all second-hand). The kids delight in their new clothing, just like kids all over the world. The girls twirl and tap their shoes. The boys strut their stuff!

New Christmas outfits at sunset in the Highlands

New Christmas outfits at sunset in the Highlands

Once Christmas Eve arrives, some of our mamas and kids will go visit their families and some will stay on-site and Greg and I will celebrate with them (except for the part where they stay up all night on Christmas Eve! No thanks – a Christmas movie, a quiet dinner and early to bed for us!).

May you and your family have a special holiday time, whatever and however you celebrate at this time of the year!

With love,

Heather Alicia

 

 

Grand Fiesta – Grand Success!

 

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Thank You!

With your presence and support at this year’s Grand Fiesta, we managed to raise a tremendous net total of over $60,000 to directly benefit at-risk mothers and children in Guatemala!

We had many ambitious goals and we are truly grateful for your overwhelming support to help us achieve them! Thanks to you, we have funded for one year:

  • Our Preschool Teacher’s salary
  • Arts and program supplies
  • The Tutor, Activity Leader and Activity Coordinator to run our afternoon programming
  • Our Mama’s Mama (Life Skills Worker)
  • Dental support for ELEVEN mamas and children!
  • Automated irrigation to increase our agricultural production
  • Half of our Social Enterprise Manager, Therapist and Psychologist’s salaries
  • One of our construction worker’s salaries

How incredible is that?! It’s remarkable what we can achieve together! On behalf of the mothers and children in Guatemala whose lives are being transformed with your support – WE THANK YOU.

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Letter from Matthew Boroditsky: A Giving Wish

 

Update~Sunday, October 16th

Matthew’s fundraiser was held on Thursday, October 13th at St. George’s School, Vancouver. It was a lovely evening and the fundraiser was a big success. We have nearly reached the Matthew’s goal. Please consider donating now to help us reach it!

 

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One can never truly predict what life has in store for them. One day can be the happiest day of your life and in a split second you are confronted with fighting the most significant battle you may ever face. This is the reality we live in and is something that I was quickly acquainted with entering my final year of high school at St. George’s.

I had just returned to school after playing in a hockey tournament over the summer months, when things quickly changed for me. On October 13, 2013 I was informed that I had Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer affecting the body’s immune system. All of a sudden, my life was put on hold as the only focus was fighting this disease over the next eight months of my life. During this time I never truly understood the magnitude of influence this experience would have on my life. The importance of health and how much we take that for granted on a daily basis was something that truly struck me during these eight months.

Halfway through my treatment, I was approached with the opportunity to be granted a wish through Children’s Wish. This was a unique and intriguing opportunity, one that I did not take lightly. It was quite overwhelming when I first fully realized the vast possibilities associated with this wish. After several days of thought, I truly felt that I wanted this wish to be one that I could look back upon many years later. I wanted to make a wish that could stand as a constant reminder to not only myself, but to the greater community, about the importance of gratitude, hopefully sharing a small bit of what I learned throughout my experience. Thus, I came to the conclusion that I would like my wish to be a “giving wish”.

In March of 2013, several classmates and I had the opportunity to visit Project Somos in a southern Guatemalan community as part of a service-learning experience. Project Somos is an eco-sustainable alternative community for at-risk mothers and children in Guatemala. It exists, among many things, as a result of an ongoing recognition of rising poverty and poor access to education and medical care. The Project was an eye opening experience for me and left a major impression in my life. It was the first time I had experienced a world with true poverty and seen first hand the roadblocks to health and well-being, something very rarely seen within our culture.

Matthew Boroditsky

The people in rural areas such as Chivarabal – where Project Somos is located – often don’t have the money to cover transportation to a medical clinic. If they do manage to go to a free clinic, they might not be able to afford the medication prescribed (even generic drugs are prohibitively expensive). There aren’t many systems in place for long term health conditions, and preventative care is completely lacking.

Realizing the limitations and the precarious feeling people find themselves in, the tragic loss of what we at home would consider basic simple care sparked an idea to construct a medical clinic on site. At the time, I was not fully aware of how this could be done, but when Children’s Wish came along, I knew exactly what to wish for. I wanted my wish to make a difference in this world and continue to help the people of Guatemala for many years to come, trying to parallel the philosophy of Project Somos in its recognition of the importance of sustainability. Nearing the end of my treatment, in partnership with Children’s wish, we were able to direct the initial funds for the medical clinic for Project Somos.

As you can imagine, the planning of a medical clinic and neighbourhood house on the Project Somos site has been challenging. We continue to fundraise to help raise the necessary money to make this wish a reality. In keeping with our momentum, we are planning an evening of celebration on October 13, 2016 at St. George’s School. We celebrate the continued progress and success of the project and we hope to make a difference in the lives of others that are less fortunate.

Life has a funny way of evolving. I never would have even thought I would be involved in a project like this so far from home. I feel we have an obligation as a global community to help each other and I know that many of you reading this feel the same way. Please help us by donating directly to the medical clinic project or by coming to our event to help make my wish come true.

Respectfully,

Matthew Boroditsky

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Grand Fiesta-Special Guest Announcement!!!

 

We have a special guest joining us at this year’s Grand Fiesta! Check out our short video to find out who it is!

Have you purchased your tickets yet? Buy tickets here!

Thanks!

And we look forward to seeing you there!

Heather xo

 

 

 

The Power of Intention Fuelled by Love

 

Music/Art/Culture DomeWhen the the diverse volunteer group arrived, inspired by Martyn and Justine Joseph of Let Yourself Trust, to assist in the construction of the Music and Culture Dome, I knew it would be an extraordinary constellation of people. However, I had no idea the level of synergy they would reach onsite and then maintain after their departure. Everyone who works with Project Somos is more than impressed, we are amazed.

For me, it was a pleasure to work with the group during their construction days in February, and they seemed to connect deeply with the vision and mission of the Project. They were exuberant in their workdays and joyful in their nightly musical endeavours and revelry. It was an unparalleled phenomenon we had not often witnessed but always hope for.

Here’s the clincher – even before the group’s departure (after completing 22 rows of earth bags of the Culture Dome), there was a talk of the next Somos build and their participation. One of their team stepped up and committed to find the funds to build Family House #3 and organize the group to return and participate in the construction. Both tasks happened in a very short time span.

We are SO excited about this new space!This group’s unity of enthusiasm put into action is a dream come true for us. Once again it tangibly demonstrates the power of intention fuelled by Love that we have repeatedly witnessed over the past five years being on the ground in Guatemala. It is a testament to what is possible when a group of like-minded people dream BIG!

Fifteen of the SomosUS team made the return trip in August to get their hands dirty helping construct our third family home! This duplex means that we will have space to accept two more families! They completed an incredible 25 levels of earth bags and considering that the linear circumference of the walls was three times as long, the effort enters into the realm of superhuman.

During the team’s construction time here, we had a gathering to dedicate the Music, Art and Culture Dome.  Antolin spoke about the importance of the structure and what it meant to him personally as a Mayan spiritual guide.  After others in the group offered their thoughts and good wishes, Antje Duvekot offered a beautiful song to conclude the time.  Everyone was very moved by the experience.

Our workers continue to work on the family home and they are making impressive progress – the roof is on, the electrical and plumbing is roughed in, the eco-brick interior walls are built and next they will be stuccoing the interior and exterior. Stay tuned! Or follow along in the House Build Album.

-Greg

House # 3 Plans

House # 3 Plans

 

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The Inauguration of the Music/Art/Culture Dome

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Antje Duvekot sings for us

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Grand Fiesta Day of the Dead Gala – October 27, 2016

 

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Join us for Project Somos’ Grand Fiesta on October 27, 2016 at
The Imperial!

In its ninth year, Grand Fiesta is a gala fundraiser that has not forgotten its community roots, yet continues to grow in distinction each year.

Enjoy the luxurious environment of The Imperial, delicious food, live auction with entertainment auctioneer, circus performances and much more! Get in the masquerade “spirit” of our Day of the Dead theme (dressing up optional)!

Tita – one of our very first mamas and soon-to-be Somos’ first graduate – will be the very special guest of this year’s Grand Fiesta! She has a powerful story to share with you. Check out the video of her announcement here!

Not only that, but the talented Margaret Gallagher of CBC Radio will be our MC for the evening!

Please join us for another memorable Grand Fiesta to support Project Somos Children’s Village!

Tickets:
Early Bird (’til Oct 9th): $65
Regular Price: $75
At the Door: $85
VIP (includes exclusive cocktail party at 6:30 pm, live entertainment, reserved front row seating, VIP draw and mini meal): $100

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Live Auction Packages – full details here

The Kits Package
Golf in Whistler
Weekend Getaway in Parksville
Downtown Night Out
The S.T.E.M Package
Vacation in Chile

Stay tuned for Fund-a-Need items!

 

Building House #3! – Part 2

 

Thanks to an amazing group of volunteers and donors, last week we were able to start the construction of the third family house. It was an incredible week, new friendships were formed and old ones continued. We are so very thankful for all the hard work the volunteers put in, to surpass the expected level of bags for the week.

Up, up, up we go!

Up, up, up we go!

Time to catch the bucket!

Antje and Ann Marie gave us a beautiful concert, with their incredible talent.

Antje and Ann Marie gave us a beautiful concert, with their incredible talent.

Heather Alicia and Greg opened up their house for a lovely "Happy Hour" Fiesta!

Heather Alicia and Greg opened up their house for a lovely “Happy Hour” Fiesta!

Peter with some of the workers during the Open House.

Peter with some of the workers during the Open House.

We had an Open House at Project Somos, over 60 people came to see the work we have done.

We had an Open House at Project Somos, over 60 people came to see the work we have done.

Antolin leading the inauguration of the

Antolin leading the inauguration of the Music/Culture/Arts Dome.

Antje bringing the week to a close with a beautiful song during the inauguration of the Music/Arts/Culture Dome.

Antje bringing the week to a close with a beautiful song during the inauguration of the Music/Arts/Culture Dome.

Pre-build group shot! Time to get dirty!

Pre-build group shot! Time to get dirty!

The volunteers and workers, at the end of a hard work week, job well done!!

The volunteers and workers, at the end of a hard work week, job well done!!

It was an incredible week, one not to be forgotten! Thank again for everyone who was involved, all your hard work is so very appreciated.

For more photos visit our Facebook Album.

Until next time..

-Gabi Dubland, Project Somos Administrative Assistant

 

Building House #3!

 

This week we have an incredible group of volunteers, coming from all over Canada, the US, and Europe. Thanks to this group of amazing people and some very generous donors, we have started building the third family home here at Project Somos! There are seven returning volunteers from the Let Yourself Trust group that came in February to build the Music/Culture/Arts Dome, along with another 8 volunteers. They are doing awesome work!

 

Everyone at the build site for house #3!

Everyone at the build site for house #3!

Antolin giving the morning instructions.

Antolin giving the morning instructions.

And we have started! Door frames are in!

And we have started! Door frames are in!

Peter working on the barb-wire

Peter working on the barb-wire

Nicky back at it!

Nicky back at it!

The ladies are working hard!

We’ve got hard working ladies on site! 

Playing on the teeter-totter with the kids

Playing on the teeter-totter with the kids

Ziplane fun!

Zipline fun!

Stay tuned for more photos!

-Gabi Dubland, Project Somos Administrative Assistant

 

A Visit to the Zoo in Guatemala City!

 
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Bus all loaded. Greg playing peek-a-boo with the kids!

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We were grateful not to be on a chicken bus for this trip!

Thanks to the generous donors who gave during our 2015 Holiday Campaign, we were able to go on our first big outing! It was a memorable day for everyone!

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La Aurora Zoo, Guatemala City (right beside the airport)

 

 

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Checking out the monkeys was a highlight!

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Who doesn’t love a monkey?

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Everyone got monkey hats!

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The whole visit was incredibly fascinating for everyone.

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Turtles and? Are those crocodiles or alligators?

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The fish pond was a highlight. And thankfully, no one fell in!

 

 

Welcome Carly!

 

IMG_1428_1024Carly O’Rourke is Project Somos’ 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. For the previous two years, Carly has been writing grants for Project Somos, helping to 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.

It is an incredible boon to Project Somos to have Carly’s time dedicated to fundraising on-the-ground in Vancouver and beyond, connecting us to new donors and providing exceptional stewardship to all of our incredible supporters. 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.”