Integral Heart Foundation
When I was a little girl I was sent to study in a Catholic nun’s school. I remember that as part of the activities of the school there were many days when we would watch movies. I remember this clearly, because it was really exciting to do anything other than attending class. Most of these movies were about missionaries, of the same order as those who were running the school, who were doing social work and helping people in Third World countries.
I can recall that I was always fascinated by how other people could drop their entire lives so that they could go to help others. I found it great that they would do that, but I had a life, and of course, we already had those lovely, nice nuns doing that “dirty” work. It was great to watch them work and to admire them from a safe place. Also, the possibility of having to become a nun wasn’t the most attractive idea in the world. Of course at that time I thought that only nuns, monks or priests could be volunteers.
Today at 39 years of age and, as funny as it might sound, I am living in a third world country where I do humanitarian work, and I also am a nun… (in the Zen/Soto tradition.)
My husband Mick Quinn and I decided to move here after randomly picking this country for a vacation in August of 2009. We were living in the States and were working on our coaching practice and the promotion of our book, “The Uncommon Path”. We missed the Spanish culture quite a bit after having lived in Europe for a few years, but didn’t want to deal with jetlag again, so we went to Guatemala. For our first trip here in August of 2009, we stayed in Antigua, a beautiful UNESCO protected town in central Guatemala.
Everything was great until we rented a car and visited some areas on the outskirts of Antigua. We couldn’t believe it but as soon as we stepped out of Antigua, the poverty was plainly obvious and completely overwhelming. From amid the smiling faces of those in the “unconscious now” there was dirt and squalor, horrible living conditions, evident alcoholism, prostitution, exploited working children and even more unimaginable events unfolding in front of our eyes; a normal day in the life of Guatemala. We were seeing its true face and character.
Over the following three days I experienced such a devastating state of mind that I had to call Big Mind on myself in order to gain some perspective and clarity. And in all of this, I realized that while it is great to raise consciousness and develop higher levels of awareness, there was and there are people literally dying from starvation while I write this article or while you read it. Sitting around a table and using big words is not the full embodiment of 2nd Tier thinking. It is just our minds trying to show ourselves and others how smart, evolved and enlightened we are. So we came to live here in December of 2009.
Mick and I managed to arrange our coaching schedule in such a way that it allowed us to do that work only on Tuesdays. In doing so we were able to have the rest of the week free to dedicate our time to Conscious Service, which we do.
We began by volunteering with other NGOs, but very soon we saw the need to begin our own project. A project in which we could serve by giving not only food and other goods but also consciousness, ethics, awareness and evolution. That is how the Integral Heart Foundation was born and that is what we do right now 100% of the time.
Our main project is the Integral Evolutionary Philosophy to be able to change the next generations from the inside out with leading edge philosophies. We also love our Kindergarten program were infants can learn, be clean, socialize, but most importantly be children in a safe container. In addition we have a Sponsorship program to help the kids to continue their education and also the families with food, medicines, beds and so on, so they can send the kids to school instead of work. The last one is the Solar Light program. We provide resource poor families with portable solar units so they can have light to cook, play with their children and live, and the children can study and do their homework without having to worry about the power bill, which in most cases, they cannot afford.
After two years of doing this work, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else. Mick and I have many conversations at the end of the day and we are more than amazed at all that has been happening here since we moved to Guatemala. Many doubts and questions arise of course, but we own the fact that the voice of the skeptic and the thinking mind are simply doing their jobs, and they always will. In the meantime we keep working and making sure that at least we can get someone to smile today. Wouldn’t it be great if we all could be happy just with that smile.
Another thing that Guatemala and these wonderful children have taught me is that simple is better. It is great to know big concepts and ideas but the art of translating them into a smile and plain understanding is something we all should practice.
Debora Prieto Morais
President and Cofounder of Integral Heart Foundation