A Father Away From Home – by Amy Yeung in Guatemala


I have now been working for Project Somos in Tecpán, Guatemala for two and half months.  One thing I have observed is the challenge that Project Somos faces in holding onto good quality labour. In the middle of May, Project Somos hired nine local employees to help build the Children’s Village. Everyone worked extremely hard and we were incredibly grateful for this team. In a previous blog I wrote about how Project Somos had even hosted a children’s day where we invited the families of our workers to come for a day of activities. We also made cards with family photos for Father’s Day.

Things have been going very smoothly until last week when three of our employees received calls to come and work in Canada and immediately quit.  While it is frustrating on this end I can understand why they would leave. As a temporary guest worker in Canada, employees can typically work more than 40 hours a week on a farm and their salary for two weeks can be close to what a Guatemalan would earn doing similar work for six months.

While the opportunity for money is hard to turn down it does mean that these men must also leave their families for at least three months, and of course Project Somos and the work being done onsite. It’s bitter sweet for all.

We asked one of our employees, Noé for some insight. He said, “having an opportunity to work in Canada for three months is like winning the lottery.  If we work well, there is a possibility of getting our contract renewed.  I hope to work in Canada once a year for three years.  While I am away, my wife can sew and she can earn 1000Q ($125) per month, which is enough for her and our daughter.  Working in Canada for three months means I can bring back almost $4000.  With this money, I plan to build another room in our house and if I go back to Canada two more times, then I plan to buy a car and start my own business.”

We understand that this is a great financial opportunity for these workers however it is proving very challenging for Project Somos. If this continues we will keep losing skilled workers.

We are encouraging the remaining workers to be as open with us as possible to help us find creative ways in which both parties will be happy.  We will miss these men, and wish them well, trusting that they will return safely to their families and back to our Project Somos team.

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