News and Events

Maricela Guadamud – an inspiring woman with grand designs for Life


Maricela has been involved with SALEM Ecuador since she was 7 years old! With our continued support and her own talent, initiative, hard work and persistence, she realised her dream of studying graphic design! Now working as a freelance designer we are proud to collborate with her on various projects.

We invited Maricela to answer questions on her profession, her experience at SALEM Ecuador and the importance of a good education!

Academic & Professional Life

Can you tell us about your current professional situation?

I am dedicated to graphic design! I am a freelance designer, I also paint murals and design drinking fountains for hummingbirds. In 2019 I am starting a project making flower pots with recycled bottles.

When did you first know what you wanted to do with your life?
I just knew it! I always knew that I would do what my heart told me. I always liked to draw, it was what I did before I even knew how to write and I said I want to do that when I grow up.

One day, I saw a volunteer at SALEM drawing beautifully and I said I want to draw as well as her.

I could already draw, but her drawings inspired me. I was around 12 when I decided, to be a designer.

When did you decide to study for the first time?
Ever since I was very small I have loved learning! I like to read about philosophy, art, science, anthropology, sustainability issues and many other topics!

How did your ambition to study affect your school and home life?
I really took the time to study! I didnt want my mother or father interfering. My father finished school and my mother was not given the opportunity to study, because she is a woman. I had the opportunity and I took advantage of it.

In my family I’m still the only one with a University degree. I want to be a good example for my nieces and nephews. I want them to know that with dedication and perseverance everything is possible!

Is it harder for women to pursue an academic and professional career?
Yes I think so, there are still gender gaps in education for women in Ecuador. They say that they go to school or university to get a husband. Often young women become pregnant and this is one reason why many abandon their studies and dedicate themselves to raising children. I believe that in our country there is still no adequate sexual education and one reason for so many early teen pregnancies.

Why is education important?
I think education is important. I’m talking about education which teaches principles and values. On its own people will abuse information to their own advantage, to do bad things and not for good.

Of course you have to educate yourself to be a professional, but also to be a good human being who improves and serves the community!


When and how did you discover SALEM?
When I was 7 years old my family, who lived on the Ecuadorian coast, moved to Mindo to work in SALEM Ecuador. It was there I began to discover a world hitherto unknown to me! I met the Project Managers Maren and Darren. Later I met Lilo and Bruno with whom I formed a very special bond.

What role did SALEM play in your school and in your family life?
Due to my background I can say that I suffered verbal and physical bulling from some of my school mates. Thankfully SALEM helped me change my school and paid for everything – school supplies, food, uniform. All the expenses that a school girl of my age could have were covered by SALEM. Also I had many other benefits that almost nobody in the town of Mindo had. And of course my parents, with 5 children, could never have given me that, but they had taken me to Mindo in the hope of a better future and they trusted SALEM to help us.

How did SALEM support you in your studies?
SALEM covered the expenses of my school from sixth to eigth grade and after school one year of self directed learning. I lived Monday through Friday in SALEM and spent the weekend with my parents. SALEM covered the expenses of food, clothing, school supplies and monthly school fees. In my prep year I had courses in English, crafts, dance, sewing, knitting and many more activities. Also I travelled a lot with Lilo and Bruno, I got to know a lot of very beautiful places in Ecuador and I learned a lot!

How did the people at SALEM influence your life?
When someone is touched by God and selflessly offers you their help with the intention that what they are doing, will change your life in a positive way, the influence they have is unimaginable. Just like when you throw a small rock into a lake and the ripples slowly get bigger and bigger, that’s how SALEM changed my life! The little ripples grew and caused a chain reaction of positive changes within me and in the world around me.

What is special about SALEM?
For me SALEM was the happiest childhood I could have had, it was a divine gift!

SALEM is proof that there is good in the world, that there is hope and that all your dreams can be fulfilled.

What message do you have for our donors and sponsors?
Firstly to thank them from the bottom of my heart for all the help I have received and that the many children continue to receive. I want to tell them that SALEM really does help, and that through your donations you really are touching and improving lives!

What are your personal aspirations and hopes and dreams for the future?
I plan to use my knowledge in industrial graphic design to solve problems of rural communities, such as designing an accessible and functional system for the treatment of human waste. Another thing that I would love to do is develop teaching materials for children to learn in a simple way. Another dream is to create a little school in Cube, a town where my parents live, for the children of farmers. I want to teach the importance of ecology and conservation, organic farming methods and much more. I think that the people who dedicate themselves to agriculture are very important in society. I think that sustainable agriculture and living in the countryside is the best future you could wish for!

What advice do you have for young people?
Dear young people, I challenge you to look within yourselves, not to follow fashions, not to copy others, form your own opinions, look at the world through your own eyes, read, use your youth well and always be curious!

You have nothing to gain from drugs and alchohol – leave them well alone! Make a circle of friends to do positive things like travel, get to know other cultures, other people and different horizons. Above all cultivate your own personal values and principles which will help you avoid many problems and serve and guide you well into the future!

Thank you to Maricela for this interview! We wish Maricela good luck and success with all of her ideas and dreams!

If you would like to support our work in SALEM-Ecuador you can do so by a project donation or a sponsorship for our project.

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