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Proyecto Genesis

IVHQ Booster Grant Recipient - Proyecto Genesis
Proyecto Genesis IVHQ Booster Grant

Project: Teaching
Program: Guatemala

What do IVHQ volunteers do at this placement?
Proyecto Genesis serves as an after school program for children in a rural area just outside of Antigua. The children range in age from 3 to 15 year and attend Proyecto Genesis from 2pm, Monday to Friday. Some of the children that participate in Proyecto Genesis are not able to go to school, mostly for economic reasons and volunteers here provide basic lessons to the children that are similar to what they would be learning in school. Volunteers take English lessons, preparing worksheets to assist the learning of the children. Volunteers also provide computer training in the small computer lab that was put together with donated computers. For those children who attend school, homework help is offered by volunteers, using encyclopedias to investigate and help complete their assignments. From 4pm to 5pm, the volunteers help give out a snack and then participate in outdoor play time. The children can choose to play games, such as soccer, catch and jump rope.

Who runs this placement?
Proyecto Genesis was established by Ricardo Armas in 2012. Ricardo was born and raised just outside of Anitgua, Guatemala. He is married, with a 1.5 year old daughter, Genesis, who he named to reflect the fact that her birth completely changed his life, giving him a new beginning. He is an aspiring author with one book published (Mujer de Lujo) and two more books written, but not yet published.

Proyecto Genesis, Ricardo

Ricardo visited the town of Estancia de la Virgen San Andres Itzapa, a rural community about an hour outside of Antigua, with a friend who had inherited property there. Arriving without any intention of anything more than a short visit, Ricardo left with a strong desire to help this community. He saw children without the opportunity to receive an education, and the long term effects that was causing on these families living in the cycle of poverty. He began visiting the community on weekends, taking his daughter with him so that he could teach her from the very beginning the importance of helping others. He gathered the children of the community together in an open field to teach them basic education, play games and give them a place to go and something to do. He called it Plan Genesis.

At this time, he had a good paying job working in the administration of a local company but when the owner of the company found out what he was doing on the weekends, she told him that if he continued to do so, he would no longer have a job. She warned him that involving himself with poor people would bring bad luck and poverty to him and she could not have that affecting her business. He quit his full time job and began working during the week with the children in the afternoons, converting Plan Genesis into Proyecto Genesis. Without the steady income from his job, Ricardo's family has adjusted their lifestyle to allow for Ricardo to continue supporting the project. Now he works part time jobs when they are available and has used all of his savings, which he had put aside to publish the other books he has written, in order to see that the project is able to continue and grow.

Ricardo transports the volunteers everyday to and from the placement and also helps directly with activities. Lety Barrios, was the first person to partner with Ricardo in supporting Proyecto Genesis. She offered her home as a place for the children to meet and acts as the Director of Programs. She is in charge of keeping track of the materials, giving out supplies and keeping everything in order. Lety Barrios is a home owner in the community and when she saw that Ricardo was meeting with the children outside, she offered her home as a place to meet, where they could have protection from the strong sun and rain. The number of children continues to grow, making it necessary now to use Lety’s home as well as rent a small building across the street. The rented house has no electricity and no running water. They cannot add a kitchen to it so they end up cooking outside, and when it rains they have to find somewhere else to cook.

Proyecto Genesis IVHQ Booster Grant

How will the IVHQ Booster Awards money be used to benefit this placement?
If the $5000 is awarded to Proyecto Genesis, they will buy a plot of land. A plot of land in the community where Genesis is located ranges from $3,200 to $3,850. The remaining $1,800 to $1,150 will be used to purchase materials needed to build a structure made of recycled materials, using the innovative idea of eco-bricks. While building the structure in this way will take more time, it will allow for the community to be involved in collecting the materials as well as lower building costs substantially. The materials needed include cement, chicken wire, wood and sand.

If Proyecto Genesis is awarded the $200, it will be used to buy nutritious food for the kids. They currently have 50 to 60 children who attend each day. Ricardo has observed that most of them do not get proper nutrition at home, so he tries to provide snacks high in vitamins and nutrients. The kids receive Incaparina (a fortified soy drink) or sandwiches with eggs or other protein. What is available for snacks is largely dependent on what food donations Ricardo is able to collect. $200 would allow him to buy 200 pounds of Incaparina, which will provide snacks for the children for 6 weeks.

What is the long-term vision for this placement?
Ricardo’s ultimate dream is to build a school in the community. He would like to be able to use the school to educate the children who have previously not had the opportunity to study. He will also continue to provide nutritious snacks to supplement the food they are receiving at home. He wants to have programs to help fill the children’s time productively, where they can learn about things such as recycling, nutrition and learn other life skills as well that will be useful to them in their futures.

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