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.