What happens when two ordinary Canadians decide to make an extraordinary difference?
Project Somos Children’s Village: A home. A family. A future.
Project Somos has something very different about it: a kind of small-world magic that seems uniquely Canadian. Some of the biggest supporters have just sort of stumbled upon it and by some force feel the draw of the Project and before they know it they are hosting a 60th birthday party to raise money for the organization, or joining the board, or bringing their families to volunteer for a week.
This is the very magic that attracted me to the Project. I was attracted by the audacity of the vision: an ecological village that would raise orphaned children within families. I was so attracted that I brought my whole family to visit in 2011, just over a year after the founders, Heather Knox and Greg Kemp, moved there to start construction.
From the moment I stepped onto the site of the Project Somos Children’s Village, I felt something special. Perhaps it is because it is located at an elevation of 7,000 feet with a vista of seven volcanoes, adjacent to the Iximche Mayan Ruins; perhaps it is simply because the good intentions of so many people have gone into the place; and most likely it is because Heather and Greg have a palpable faith in their ability to help create change for children in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Heather and Greg make anything seem possible. They are not wealthy, they are not from old, well-connected families. While they were fundraising for the Project, they rented a basement suite, Greg a sort of Jack-of-all-Trades, worked construction and Heather worked for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. They believe, however, in their own sense of fortune. They have both travelled substantially and they realized what a privilege it is to be born in Canada. They both want to leverage that privilege. It is one of the things that attracted them to each other and that attracts others to this project: being a hero seems entirely plausible with these two as models.
“The hope of any country is in the kids,” says Heather. “My daughter and I had volunteered at a children’s village in the South of India,” she explains. “It was this model of a children village most inspired us. It is holistic on so many levels.”