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

 

Letter from Matthew Boroditsky: A Giving Wish

 

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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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.”

 

Peace in the Village!

 

For lack of a better word, we have found some peace! For the first time, in I don’t know how long, it feels peaceful here at Project Somos.

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Our 4/5 year old group doing puzzles.

A month ago we officially began our afternoon programming with the kids. From 1pm-5pm each weekday we have programs for our kids. We found teacher, Rafaela Surec and have hired her to oversee this. We have divided the kids into four groups; Group 1 (three 8-10 year olds), Group 2 (three 6 year olds) Group 3 (four 4-5 year olds) and Group 4 (four 3 year olds). Rafaela works with the older kids doing tutoring, two of our moms are leading groups and we have a local young woman helping with one of the groups as well.

 

Rafaela oversees the weekly programming and helps get each group rolling. Each goes to a different location and does reading, crafts, puzzles, play time, etc. We are anxiously waiting for the completion of our Music/Art/Culture Dome so that we can start using those two spaces to use as well. At this time, we use both of the houses while the “felting Mamas” go to the Community Hall to do their work.

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The mamas hard at work doing their felting. (with Tika supervising)

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We have four (!) 3 year olds and they LOVE their programming!

Back to this peace I referred to. For the past two years we have desperately tried to get the moms more engaged with their kids. Instead, we have been putting out one fire after another; battles between moms, parenting challenges, unhappy kids with no limits, etc. It feels like we are so often working to find harmony. And now? Now, when I wander to the five different locales, I find happy engaged kids, I find two moms that are in their element doing crafts and playing with their little “charges”. I find the other four moms listening to music, laughing and felting together.

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The six year olds in Casa Creo with one of the mamas.

Our two eldest girls both attend the local school and were struggling with homework. Both of their mamas are illiterate. Now, Rafaela tutors them daily and they are feeling much more positive about attending school. Rather than constantly struggling.

These are the early days and I know challenges will arise but I really feel we’ve figured out a major piece of the puzzle! We are SO grateful to all who donate to Project Somos to make this type of programming possible. Peace is a very, very good thing!

Heather Alicia

 

 

Save the Date: Grand Fiesta – October 27, 2016

 

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

Early Bird (’til Oct 7th): $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

Tickets available soon! Stay tuned for a list of our Live Auction and Fund-a-Need items!

 

Summer Matching Campaign 2016

 

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The Village is growing!

This summer, we break ground to build our third family home, giving us capacity to support more families – we’ll soon be at eight mothers and more than twenty children!

Our vision is to keep families together and break the cycle of poverty for Guatemalan mothers and children in need. We empower single, widowed or abandoned mothers with essential life and vocational skills, allowing their children to focus on education and play – the healthy, happy childhood they deserve.

It breaks our heart to turn families away due to lack of capacity. Our model works, but we need the funding in place to support the Village’s ongoing operation and growth.

That’s where you come in…

A generous donor has offered $10,000 in matching funds for our annual summer campaign. Help us take advantage of this golden opportunity – donate to the Summer Matching Campaign by September 9th and double your dollar to Project Somos Children’s Village!

Consider becoming a monthly donor now and your donations for two months will be automatically doubled!

How to Donate:

CANADIANS

To make an one-time OR monthly donation by cheque, please make it payable to:
Compassion Fruit Society and mail to:
#400 – 856 Homer Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 2W5 Canada

To make an one-time OR monthly donation online, please click here:
Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

AMERICANS

To make an one-time OR monthly donation by check, please make it payable to:

Self Design Foundation [please include “Somos” somewhere on the check] and mail to:
1807 McKenzie Ave
Bellingham, Washington 98225

To make an one-time OR monthly donation online, please click here:

American Donation

 

Guest Blogger-Somos Mama, Clara- on her FIRST “Vacation”

 

ClaraOn this vacation, I feel very happy. I did not know the word “vacation” before. I am the mother of three children and all my time is spent with them. Thanks to Project Somos, today I’m at the Yoga Forest (San Marcos, Lake Atitlan). It is a very quiet place, full of peace and meditation. The gates of paradise have been opened to me. The way of life of these people is very healthy, its spirituality, its nature, all is amazing. I want to learn their way of life because it is perfect for my children and for me.
When I was married, it was a difficult and a hard stage of my life. I didn’t have friends and I had no work. I felt that I was falling into a black and deep well. I couldn’t get out of there. I have many sad memories, but today I remember them and do not cry. My wounds have healed thanks to people who are my angels. There are very few people who care for those in need. Thanks to life for the opportunity to keep living and to go forward with my children. I have to work hard, study, grow and build, so that my children don’t have the life that I had.

-Clara* (hand-written during her stay)

*we have used a “pen name” to protect the privacy of this mama

MANY thanks to The Yoga Forest for providing Clara with a full scholarship (accommodations, yummy vegetarian food and yoga classes) for her five day stay.  As is Clara, we are very grateful for such a gift to such a wonderful person who is so deserving. Thank you! Gracias! Matiox!

We provided Clara with a camera during her retreat and these are some of the photos she captured…

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Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Volunteer Trip • Part I

 

This week we welcome our last school group of the 2016 Spring Break season, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School from Calgary, Alberta. They arrived Monday morning with 13 students and 2 teachers, ready to get to work! This week so far has included working in the kitchen, in the preschool, afternoon activities with the kids, giving our climbing/bouldering wall a facelift, and cleaning out the road trenches in preparation for the rainy season. The students are working hard and enjoying their time! We are excited to see all the work they will accomplish this week.

Arrival at Somos, time to get settled into their rooms.

Arrival at Somos, time to get settled into their rooms.

Greg giving a tour to the students

Greg giving a tour to the students

Changing up the tires in the  playground

Changing up the tires in the playground

Cleaning out the trenches on the road

Cleaning out the trenches on the road

A facelift for the bouldering wall!

A facelift for the bouldering wall!

Sifting sand for the plaster.

Sifting sand for the plaster.

Getting the plaster ready

Getting the plaster ready

Plastering the wall

Plastering the wall

Playing with the kids

Playing with the kids

Activities with the kids and volunteers

Activities with the kids and volunteers

Stay tuned for part 2!

-Gabi Dubland, Project Somos Administrative Assistant

 

St. George’s Volunteer Trip • Part II

 

A big thank you to all of the St. George’s students and teachers that came to volunteer at Project Somos this week. The students worked hard all week digging trenches, planning activities with the kids, working in the kitchen, and playing soccer. On Thursday Saints had the opportunity to go to Iximche, local Mayan ruins with our foreman Antolin as a guide. They learned about Mayan culture and ways of life. After the tour the students went to Tecpan to visit the market and watch a procession for Semana Santa (Easter). In the afternoon we had a local ‘Kid’s Day’ where close to 50 kids showed up to play with the volunteers, some of the activities included puzzles, the zipline, a few different soccer games, and the parachute to end the day off! A great way to finish off their volunteer week. Thanks again to all of the students that came and volunteered. Safe travels home!

Antolin explaining the ball game that Mayans used to play.

Antolin explaining the ball game that Mayans used to play.

Saints in the ruins of Ixichme.

Saints in the ruins of Ixichme.

Team picture with Antolin & Ronnie (Guatemalan leader)

Team picture with Antolin & Ronnie (Guatemalan leader)

Helping the kids with the puzzles.

Helping the kids with the puzzles.

The local kids love having the chance to do puzzles and hang out with the volunteers.

The local kids love having the chance to do puzzles and hang out with the volunteers.

Zipline fun!

Only zipline in Chivarabal !

Parachute fun!

Parachute fun!

Keep the ball on!

Keep the ball on!

Always a fun activity!

Always a fun activity!

-Gabi Dubland, Project Somos Administrative Assistant