From Garbage Dump To School In Guatemala

Vultures circling above, garbage trucks roaring in, our 12-year-old daughter’s eyes were opened. Concerned, she watched as men, women and sometimes children chased each truck into the Guatemala City garbage dump to claim the trash inside. Rifling through the rubbish, the people begin their daily routine of sorting, lifting, guarding and selling trash so it may be recycled and they, in turn, can eat. Years ago, more children worked and fewer went to school. Today, more go to school and fewer work. Thanks to one woman, Hanley Denning, an American who made a difference.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Hanley was first introduced to the slums adjacent to this garbage dump during a tourist visit to Guatemala. Upset and determined to support the families and children working in the dump, she sold her car and her computer to begin Safe Passage (Camino Seguro). Today 600 children and 100 mothers receive educational and social services support to improve their living and working conditions. Sadly, Hanley was killed in a traffic accident but her dreams and goals continue today as Safe Passage continues to grow.

This half day tour was the best part of our family trip to Guatemala. After visiting the garbage dump and driving in the impoverished surrounding area, you arrive at Safe Passage where both children and their parents receive classes and training so they can rely less and less on a life involving the garbage dump. After touring the facilities and eating a lunch of tortillas and beans with the students in their cafeteria, we left Safe Passage feeling a little lighter, happier and more optimistic about the world around us.

This experience will remain with you long after you return from Guatemala. Much longer than any other sightseeing endeavor.

22 comments

  1. Kat · June 2, 2015

    That sounds like a great program. It gives me hope for the future when I hear about people helping others and making a difference. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lovetotrav · June 2, 2015

      I so agree. It appears that it is an excellent program. And yes… making a huge difference.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. emilylynnneil · May 24, 2015

    I loved reading this post, I actually have a close friend who has been living in Guatemala for the past 6 months, she has worked with Safe Passage throughout her time there. It’s definitely on my list of things to do/places to see. It’s nice to remember that there are good people out there like Hanley who devote their lives to doing good. Cheers!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lovetotrav · May 24, 2015

      I so agree. How wonderful for your friend to work there. I know that my 12-year-old wanted to drop everything and begin there. Hopefully you will get there too. Guatemala is truly a special place!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue Slaght · May 22, 2015

    Wonderful to see such good work being done to help a bad situation. The more we travel the more we appreciate how very much we have!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. WhenInTurkey · May 22, 2015

    That’s amazing. What a beautiful thing. I think the most meaningful experience I’ve had abroad is the first time I heard Ezan (the muslim call to prayer) in real life. It’s something else entirely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lovetotrav · May 22, 2015

      I heard it in Morocco and became fascinated with how prayer plays such an important role in their lives. The sound is mesmerizing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ally Bean · May 22, 2015

    I’ve read about this woman’s efforts, but have never “met” anyone who has been there. Fascinating how it only takes one person to see a solution to a problem and make things better in this world. I am so grateful for where I live on earth and for people like Hanley.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sketchpacker · May 22, 2015

    What an honestly useful and worthwhile investment for Hanley to have made! Are there volunteer opportunities with this organisation?

    Liked by 1 person

    • lovetotrav · May 22, 2015

      Yes, there are quite a few. You do need to have a good handle on Spanish though. My daughter was really inspired, wants to learn Spanish and return to work.

      Like

      • Sketchpacker · May 22, 2015

        Ah ok so learn Spanish and then reconsider. I guess that’s completely fair enough given the whole concept of the organization!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lovetotrav · May 22, 2015

        Yes, many are teaching and some are doing tours… but if you ever have the chance to see it, you will want to be a part of it, I am sure. I definitely did.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. that traveling nurse · May 22, 2015

    This is similar to seeing the Payatas dumpsite or the “Smoky Mountain” in the Philippines. Although I haven’t been there but I have seen it on TV and heard about it on the news. Mountains of garbage where people live and make their livelihoods from is such an eye opening experience I’m sure from people who live in developed countries and gives them quite the perspective on life and how blessed they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lovetotrav · May 22, 2015

      Yes, it quickly gives you a feeling of gratitude for what you have and how blessed we are. I completely agree. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Girl Gone Expat · May 22, 2015

    I am so glad there are people like Hanley Denning out there. I spent one month in Guatemala in my early twenties. We travelled around quite a bit. It was part of a 3 month backpacking journey. Oh my did this journey open my eyes:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • lovetotrav · May 22, 2015

      I did the same thing in my twenties and that was why I wanted to return with my daughter. It is a special place.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Donna · May 22, 2015

    Wow we do not realize how lucky we are.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. bestthingsinlife1964 · May 22, 2015

    Every North American child should have this experience. What a great way to teach kids how to make a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lovetotrav · May 22, 2015

      It was something that has stuck with our daughter and she, in turn, would like to work with a similar organization someday in the future. And yes, I agree. It is a great way to teach kids to appreciate what they do have as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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