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 also teach English lessons, preparing worksheets to assist the learning of the children. 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 meal that for many of the children is the only substantial meal they get all day.
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.
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 the 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.
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- Rob and Sharon Staffen
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