Reflections on a Service Day for Project Somos

On Friday, the Senior School Service Council held a Service Day to benefit Project Somos. Project Somos is a Guatemalan community that provides opportunity to single and widowed mothers and their children. Money raised at the school on Service Day benefits the charity.

In chapel throughout the week, students spoke about the organization and the great work it does. In the video above, watch Grade 11 student Aysha Emmerson talk about her personal connection to Project Somos.

Below, read how Aysha and fellow Grade 11 student Dalal Tubeishat explained Project Somos to their classmates.

by Aysha Emmerson and Dalal Tubeishat

Picture yourself living in an animal pen in the cold of winter in the mountains of Guatemala. Often there is nothing to eat but tortillas and salt. You give your children coffee to minimize painful feelings of hunger. Try to imagine living in extreme poverty. Poverty so dire that you can no longer care for your child. You make the heartbreaking decision to leave them at an orphanage. Your hope is that your child will receive the care she needs and deserves. Imagine considering suicide because you see no hope for your future, the orphanage will only care for your children if you are dead.

Project Somos has received women who have found themselves in these situations. Mothers that have lived through extreme poverty, illiteracy, physical abuse, rape, indifference, and racism. Their children have been uneducated, malnourished, unhealthy, been involved in child labour, and have witnessed violence causing them to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Project Somos is an eco-sustainable alternative community, in the highlands of Guatemala. It is an orphan-prevention program that provides the opportunity for single mothers and their children to get back on their feet, heal, and have a future.

During their stay at Somos, the mothers and children are educated and fed from onsite gardens. While the kids are at school their mothers are working and getting an income to prepare for life after Somos. Once families leave, the mothers are set up with a job, permanent shelter, and a bank account that they worked to create while in the village.

The organizations farmland and infrastructure helps provide incomes and jobs to members of the community. Somos has transformed many lives, but still has much more to do and is planning to expand their facilities to include a clinic, and four more family homes, for example. They have a waiting list of families wanting to live there, but not enough funds to support all of them.

A past King of Bhutan once decided that the happiness of his people would dictate his regime. One day when asked about the Bhutanese GDP, he responded, “Why are we so obsessed and focused with gross domestic product? Why don’t we care more about gross national happiness?” The King was the first leader to take what should be immeasurable, as a value that would command governance. For the next 30 years as King, he reigned with the Gross National Happiness, of his people in mind.

When asked the question, “How could someone measure something that so easily evaporates?” The King responded, “Bhutan’s goal is not to create happiness, but to create the conditions for happiness to occur. In other words, we create a habitat of happiness.”

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Kyle Slavin
Kyle Slavin is the school's storyteller. Through words and photos, he shares with the community all the amazing things that happen on campus.

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