Not long after they deplane, the Intensive cohort loads onto two separate buses, both of which shortly arrive at the Guatemala City Cemetery. The students are undoubtedly exhausted from their 12+ hour travels the night prior, but they muster the ability to observe the dilapidated shrines that line the path to our tragically powerful vista.
Monstrous mounds of garbage occupy the canyon below. Allegedly, over 4,000 people live and work in the dump. All of Guatemala’s garbage accumulates in this one central location. It’s then sorted and claimed by its inhabitants. Because the Guatemalan government has failed to recognize, let alone represent, the people of the dump, it has become a city in itself with its own laws, customs, and social structure. These unfortunate souls have been merely cast away, among the garbage that consumes them.
Nearly twenty years ago, a young woman from Maine named Hanley Denning experienced the City’s dump. Upon her return to the United States, she sold all of her belongings and used this money to establish her own not-for-profit organization that she named “Safe Passage” or “Camino Seguro.” The organization provides the children of the dump the opportunity for education. Today, it’s served over 550 children who’ve been given the tools and the confidence to surpass the poverty their families have faced for generations.
It’s with this anecdote that we inspire GV students to see beyond themselves and ask what they can do to improve their local and global communities. As Hanley Denning did, it’s with one idea that any person can create positive impact on a global scale.
To read more about what Safe Passage does, follow the link attached: http://www.safepassage.org/.