PROJECT SOMOS VIDEO LIBRARY
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- Why don’t the children attend the local public school?
- What levels of education are you offering?
- How will an expanded educational programming positively affect the families of the students?
- Will you offer any assistance to the families of the Somos students?
- Will you offer practical incentives to the families of the students?
- Where is the Village located?
- Why Guatemala? Isn’t there a big need locally in Canada and the USA too?
- Why not partner with an existing organization?
- Isn’t Guatemala dangerous?
- How do you deal with religion in the Village?
- Can I get a tax receipt for my donation?
- How will you be accountable and transparent?
- Isn’t this a big shift from your previous model of families living onsite?
- Will there be any employment offered to the families to assist them?
Many families in Guatemala cannot afford the basic costs of education. Often children become field labourers or work within the household and because of this do not attend school. Project Somos offers a holistic education without costs to the students.
There is a preschool, kindergarten and primary school. The primary school will continue grow to grade six.
An educated and employed adult can assist his/her family to rise out of the desperate circumstances of poverty. Education is a door-opener for employment.
Yes, there are ongoing capacity-building workshops in health, hygiene, and literacy. As well the families can participate in the medical and dental clinics that are hosted onsite.
Education is not free in Guatemala, there are costs associated with public school that impoverished families cannot afford. The students will receive two nutritious snacks and a lunch while attending as well as being provided with a uniform. As well there is no tuition or cost for any of the educational programming.
In December 2010, property was purchased in the village of Chivarabal, near Tecpán, Guatemala, about 1.5 hours from Guatemala City, Antigua and Lake Atitlan. Construction of the Village began in in 2011, and so far includes two family homes with a third under construction, a playground, 2 guest houses for volunteer accommodation, a solar/internet building, a preschool, a music/art/study/culture dome, staff housing and a community hall.
We are fortunate to be located in an incredible area of biodiversity surrounded by pine forests. The Village land consists of a large level area for building and agriculture, situated on a peninsula above deep forested canyons, where our well is located. At 7,000 feet (2300 m), we are in an excellent climate for growing, and are developing plans to support the Somos families and provide revenue with sales of our own organic products, such as quinoa. Over the long term, we will utilize all of the land.
Yes, and if you spin a globe, close your eyes, and put your finger anywhere, it is very likely wherever your finger lands there will be a pressing need for the welfare of children and families living in poverty. The social situation in Guatemala is much more desperate than in Canada and the USA, as there are no social nets to assist those living in desperate circumstances.
The reality of the world today is that Guatemala is in our hemispheric neighbourhood and the need there is immense.
Even though there are many projects working with children on the ground in Guatemala, Project Somos was initiated to address all the challenges of health, education, and employment for impoverished single parent families in one comprehensive project. We are open to working closely with other like-minded organizations and have already made a variety of alliances with Guatemalan-based projects.
Guatemala ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the hemisphere. Unfortunately, the judicial system has been slow to recover after the 35-year civil war, which ended in 1996. However, most violence is gang-related, centered in specific neighborhoods in Guatemala City. Efforts to revive the judicial system and root out corruption are showing signs of progress and hope. The United Nations is assisting with the recovery.
The Project Somos Village is secured with a perimeter wall, which is traditional throughout the Spanish colonial world. Security “hosts” welcome anyone that arrives at the main entrance. We also have a strong positive relationship with the nearby village, and they have organized a rural “block watch” that is very effective. There has never been a dangerous incident at or near the Village since we arrived in 2010.
Part of the focus of the education with the children is cultivating virtues such as compassion, understanding, kindness, forgiveness, patience, etc. Guatemala is a Christian country with Mayan cultural roots. The mothers can practice their particular religious tradition with their children. The families are always encouraged to maintain their own cultural traditions. Compassion Fruit Society itself is a secular organization.
Yes, you can! Project Somos is a program of Compassion Fruit Society, Registered Canadian Charity No. 86332 6468 RR0001, that enables us to issue Canadian tax receipts. We also have a partnership with an American non-profit organization that can issue USA charitable receipts on our behalf. Please visit our Donate Page to make a donation. Thank you!
We encourage questions and conversation concerning our vision, goals, activities, and procedures from the general public and supporters. Compassion Fruit Society is a Canadian registered charity and financial and governance information is publicly available. A Board of Directors governs the organization and works with a variety of committees. If you wish to volunteer in any capacity, please contact us.
Yes, this is a shift and we see it as an evolutionary step that will enable us to have much more lasting impact in the Guatemalan society.
Yes, some of the mothers work for Project Somos in various capacities. When possible, the families would be preferred when employment becomes available.
FACTS AND FIGURES: What is life like in Guatemala?
of the population aged 15 and over is literate, the lowest literacy rate in Central America (Wikipedia)
48% of males and 44% of females go on to secondary school (UNICEF, 2015)
Only 82% of children enrolled in primary school in 2014 (down from 98% in 2009) (UNICEF)
of children are married by age 15
by 18 (UNICEF, 2015)
22% of births by age 18 (UNICEF, 2015)
Guatemala has the third highest femicide rate in the world, after El Salvador and Jamaica, with around
9.1 murders every 100,000 women
from 2007 to 2012 (Wikipedia)
An estimated 5,800 children are in institutional care in Guatemala (UNICEF, 2013)
Guatemala has the sixth highest malnutrition rates in the world with
of children under five chronically malnourished or stunted (UNICEF, 2013)
Nearly one-half of Guatemala’s children under age five are chronically malnourished, one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world (CIA)
Child labour rates are at
(35% for males, 16% for females) (UNICEF, 2015)
The birth rate is three children per woman and is markedly higher among Guatemala’s rural and indigenous populations (CIA)
The distribution of income remains highly unequal with the richest 20% of the population accounting for more than 51% of Guatemala’s overall consumption. More than half of the population, 59.3%, is below the national poverty line, and 23% of the population lives in extreme poverty. Poverty among indigenous groups, which make up more than 40% of the population, averages 79%, with 39.8% of the indigenous population living in extreme poverty (CIA)
of children in Guatemala live in poor households (UNICEF, 2015)
of indigenous people live in poverty; 40% in extreme poverty (UNICEF, 2015)
CHILDREN NEED FAMILIES NOT ORPHANAGES.
Watch this powerful message from author J.K. Rowling, founder of Lumos.