Children's, Youth &
Community Center

Maricela Guadamud – an inspiring woman with grand designs for Life


Maricela Guadamud – is 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 projects such as SALEM Handmade.

In connection with our Vivir Mi Vida scholarship programme 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.

If you want something to change, even a little bit, then you have to do it from within

What motivates you? What inspires you?
What motivates me? Design! It allows me to be that girl again. It impels me to believe, to dream and ultimately to materiaise my dreams.

Being a designer means that you never stop being imaginative, curious, daring and passionate about the things you do

Ultimately I am inspired by people who like to innovate and grow.

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 I took an aptitude test to find out about my skills it recommended a career in architecture, design or arts.
This was a turning point and I decided to opt for Design as both the graphic and industrial parts offered me a lot of possibilities

When did you decide to study for the first time?
Ever since I was very small I have loved learning! Studying and learning is something I love. I have always practiced and trained in things that they do not teach you in school. I like to read about philosophy, art, science, anthropology, sustainability issues and many other topics that I find interesting!

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.

All the people around me wanted to help me and I was very grateful and took full advantage of their support

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!

What is the most important thing when deciding what degree or profession to practice?
We all have different skills. If each person did what they really like to do, there would be a lot more great professionals working in their field. Regardless of the starting salary and future job prospects

I think we should all take advantage of our talents and study something based on our gifts and our abilities

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.

Macho culture for example is one of the reasons why many parents do not let their daughters study.

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. So yes, due to a lack of information and education, women have a greater probability of abandoning their studies or in fact never even starting them.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your academic career?
A big challenge was to adapt to a world at university totally different from the one I came from. The UDLA (University of the Americas) where I studied, is a university attended by people with middle to high economic status. I was an introverted girl, I felt somehow inferior to them.
After the first semester I realized that I was actually in the right place and had selected the right degree course.

I wasn’t ashamed not to have money because I always had good grades and positive feedback for my work.

In fact some of my colleagues even came to me for help with their studies.

Why is education important? Why is education important in Ecuador?
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!

Ecuador needs conscious competent professionals!

In the first three pictures of the gallery Maricela is pictured before what is now the Youth Classroom and Workshop. In 2000 when Maricela arrived at SALEM this is the building where she lived with her family before they established their own home in Mindo.


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. They are like a second father and mother to me. I will always be grateful to them and carry them deep inside my heart!

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. In Mindo there was another school and college. 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.

SALEM had a very positive influence on my life, and the lives of my family and my sisters.

I made a lot of friends who today feel like my brothers and sisters.

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.

The internal search for self is the meaning of life. For me SALEM was like a superhero who came to my rescue, I wasnt expecting it but he appeared and protected me and my siblings from many negative things that had happened in my life. SALEM was also a help for my parents who worked a lot, my mother had to work a lot, washing a lot of clothes to earn money. When we arrived at SALEM she was relieved and knew we would be fine! In SALEM I met my second parents, Lilo and Bruno, who I will never forget. I write to Bruno whenever I can. I love that man and he knows it! SALEM is special to me in so many ways.

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! After all

What is life without acts of kindness? What is life if it is not lived in the service of others?

It feels empty! If you want to change the life of a child by giving them dreams and ambitions, then your donations are the deciding factor.

A small contribution today can have a gigantic impact tomorrow.

The future</h2

What are your plans, projects, professional visions for the future? How do you imagine your future?
I want to work on things that motivate me and that make a positive change in the lives of others. I want to work on things that fill my heart with joy and if I can l also earn money doing that then so much the better!
I want to develop freelance design projects and work as an art teacher. I think that by teaching you also learn more yourself. I think teaching is a very noble profession.

As for my future I’m sure that I will grow and have better ideas!

I hope that through my work I can help people and improve the world around me in some way.

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!

If you could give our readers a piece of important wisdom, what would it be?

Do not search outside for that which is already inside of you!


Thank you to Maricela for this interview! We wish Maricela good luck and success with all of her ideas and dreams! We also look forward to collaborating with her on some very exciting projects in the weeks and months ahead!

All contact enquiries to Maricela via

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