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Posts Tagged ‘Guatemala Dump’

Safe Passage

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

By Desi Stephens-

One of our partners in carrying out our mission in Guatemala is Safe Passage, a group that provides approximately 550 children with education, social services, and the hope of moving beyond their family’s impoverished circumstances.

We formed a working relationship in December of 2010, when a staff member of Safe Passage gave one of our mission groups a tour of the national cemetery and the adjoining dump in Guatemala City. It provided them insights into the reality of the extreme poverty faced by many residents.

Many families have lived in the dump or surrounding, poor communities for generations.

Many mission groups get a first-hand look at this situation by meeting a Safe Passage member at the school these children attend. The staff member shares the history of the organization and their work in helping children impacted by the dump.

Because of our partnership, a number of mission groups have donated school supplies to Safe Passage. They also have had opportunities to visit the Creamos jewelry shop, where women who have lived at the dump have the chance to make jewelry from paper goods.

In addition to selling their products to our groups and other customers, the women have an opportunity to learn job skills.

Dorie’s Promise has also benefited from this partnership. Safe Passage recently donated two washing machines to us and has given us extra food from their supplies.

Nearly every week Safe Passage takes the time to greet visitors on our mission teams and spend time with them. Ultimately, our joint efforts are making a long-lasting impact on at-risk children.

While no children from Safe Passage have entered the orphanage, we have extended our services to the organization’s social worker. If they feel that some of their children need a safe, loving home, they can use our services in working with the Minor Court to facilitate the transition.

Amilcar de Leon of Safe Passage credits the partnership with enabling them to meet many potential sponsors and donors.

The donations and school supplies they have received has helped reduce demands on their budget and helped them maintain their programs, he says. “We believe that because of these strong relationships we can work together to make a real difference in Guatemala,” de Leon says.

We agree. It has been a pleasure to work with Safe Passage as they have reached out to others and served us as well. As our partnership approaches its first anniversary, we look forward to seeing how we can strengthen relationships and continue serving the children of Guatemala.

Death to Life

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

By: Don McPhee

We are surrounded by death…

From on top of a huge cliff I stare below to the famous Guatemala City Dump, the largest of its kind in Central America. To me it appears as Hell’s marketplace. Hundreds race after the latest rubbish from city trucks. The trucks from the wealthy parts of town are the most sought after. Several entrepreneurs set up an umbrella and sell food in the mist of the trash, knowing there are many hungry workers nearby. Tents are visible and they act as warehouses for gathered supplies. Bulldozers scurry, layering garbage and dirt while pushing towards a river. There are many hazards of the job including being pricked by infected discarded needles, or being levelled by a bulldozer. We practise caution from our observation point, as mudslides are common, and tragedies have occurred as a result.

Immediately behind me is the Guatemala City Cemetery. To view the dump, we had tracked through the cemetery to the edge of the cliff. There is no better location for this graveyard as despair can be continuous. Location does matter as well when maintenance fees are not paid on a tomb, as the body is removed and conveniently thrown over the cliff into the dump; from grave to grave. The cemetery is massive, stretching it seems for many square miles. Typical decor includes a colossal wall of tombs with rows of slots for bodies, sealed with a headstone. Most tombs are sub-standard representing the final resting place of the poor. Green moss is common over the surfaces, and everywhere is the foul smell of death. Those that can afford it have a professionally engraved marking, while the rest have some encryption hand written in the cement seal. There are also some upscale tombs with roof peaks, steel barred windows, crosses, and marble decor.  We observe a huge structure reserved for relatives of one of Guatemala’s riches families. On this day there is a funeral and we witness a worker climbing a ladder to place the body in an upper empty slot. He then completes the task with a cement seal.

Up above and all around, flocks of vultures circle and perch. The ultimate symbol of death. They number in the thousands. They rest on the tombs. They take a break on the dead trees. They loop about looking for something lifeless to devour, not discriminating between a dog or human body part, or any other rotten remains.

And straight ahead, on the other side of the dump, lies a ghetto. The ghetto dwellings are called “cobachas” and are the best attempt for a home that can be made from discarded metal, plastic, and wood. Many have dirt floors. We saw our share while in Guatemala. Most furniture or appliances in these dwellings would not be accepted for the poorest of the poor in Canada, there would be an outcry. I never realized a white fridge could turn rust brown.  

Our next venture after observing the dump, cemetery, and the vulture guard is to visit one of these cobachas across the way. We will arrive with gifts and a chicken dinner for two families.  We race back to the truck and began our journey to the other side, our trusted guide, Joel, always leading the way with confidence.

Our entrance into the ghetto does not provide relief for our burdened hearts. Was this a community or just an extension of the dump? To its credit, it was at least a somewhat organized heap. Bottles, plastic, cans, and other materials are separated and usually enclosed in large cloth or plastic bags. But they are all over the place; on the sides of the street, in the homes, and throughout the alleyways. Apparently it is common to sleep on the stacks. Random pieces of litter spot the dump spoils. Packs of dogs are throughout. They are thin and sickly. I observe several drinking from polluted puddles on the streets.

The cobacha we approach is no exception. There are two families living and working in this dwelling. While honoured to be their guest, we are troubled by their circumstances. Masses of sorted garbage are both inside and outside the home. The residence seconds as a sorting facility for the spoils of the day.  My precious friend and missionary partner, Martine, is frozen in time at the entrance of the cobacha. She is still and staring, nervously holding the dinner in plastic bags high in the air, while dogs hover around her feet and flies target the exposed rolls. Her face says it all.

We venture into life. “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” Romans 8:6…

Things turn around dramatically as we meet the dear people, our people of fellowship. Regardless of their surroundings they have resolved to be happy. I am touched, as before we enter, a lady insists on sweeping the floor. I see no point in sweeping a dirt floor, yet, to her, it is her way of glorifying God with her best for others. She makes a path in the house and lays stools for us to sit. The first room in the house contains a rafter on the left where another lady is pleasantly engaged, arranging papers gathered from the dump. A number of scrawny cats within the mess are her company. We are all so impressed with everyone’s spirit of thankfulness. They are a content people. What a lesson to observe.

Martine is now fully active in the conversation, and has also made it her personal mission to minister to the ever increasing legion of cats at her feet by contributing a portion of her lunch. Not only do cats eat French fries, they are Lovin’ It! Joel indicates it would be very acceptable to throw our chicken bones to the dogs outside, which is easy to do when there is no door. If you thought dogs shouldn’t eat chicken bones, well don’t wake these dogs up! My daughter, Courtney, strikes up a special bond with an eight year old girl, Allison, and with her caretaker, a 20 year old Guatemalan princess.

In retrospect, I consider the economy of the dump. To these people it is hope and a way. It provides a means for 20,000 residents. It is a viable alternative to recycling companies. There is harmony in the practise. A system is in place for workers to access their portion of a truck load by laying hands on the side of the truck to claim their space before it unloads. There are no fights, and rights to a truck are respected. Legislation now prevents children from working in the dump. We were also fortunate to previously visit an organization called Safe Passage, and one of their ministries is to remove kids from the dump setting, and provide educational alternatives. All dump workers are licensed, and no entry is allowed on weekends or beyond the 12 open hours in the weekdays. The ecosystem includes a network of wholesalers and retailers of the recycled goods. This is their work, and they do it well, and do it with pride.

I had carried into the ghetto thoughts of hopelessness, while the residents were living life and peace despite their circumstances. While I thought we would be blessing them, they have blessed us.

A sign from above. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” John 6:63b…

The lady on top the rafters smiles and gestures. Amongst the stack of papers she was sorting, she discovers a prize. She holds up her hand, and in it is a coverless but complete Bible. She lays it aside so it can be kept and treasured.

Reality of Guatemala

Friday, August 12th, 2011

By Kaley Kindred

Unfortunately the reality is that most of Guatemala does not look as promising as it does to the kids here at Dorie's Promise orphanage. 
 
These precious faces here are because of people investing their time and donations into sponsoring these kids, but the rest of Guatemala doesn't look like this.  
 
We spent another amazing day at the dump yesterday.  I am part of a  mission group  of 20 this week, so we had lots of donations to give out to the people living in the slums.  
 
We wanted to give these kids a pinata party, so that is what we did.  The people of the slums were so excited for the kids that they blocked off the road so no one would get in the way. 
 
As much fun as it was to see these kids stuff their shirts and pockets with loads of candy, it was even more fun to see these kids engaged in one of our missions group men sharing the gospel and having Joel translate it.  For that many kids and mothers, they all listened so well.  Walking away and watching the kids holding their tracks explaining the gospel and their new Bibles, I knew that God was going to do something in someone's life that day.  We may never know who came closer to the Lord yesterday, but we know that some of those people may have heard of the gift of Christ for the first time that day.
 
Desi and Joel have it set up so that we continue to bring a chicken lunch to the same family each week.  They are trying to pour into this family so much that they may build relationships and continue to share Christ with them each week.  This family takes a small little break of going through their trash in order for us to bring them lunch.  Any time wasted to them is less money they make. 
 
It's still hard to process for me because one day a week of missions groups bringing donations for the people of the dump is not enough.  It is not enough for these people to move out of the slums or to even buy something other than garbage bags to sleep on, but we just continue to pray that these people will find their value in Christ and know that they are loved.  
 
And then tonight…oh how I love precious moments like these….every time I tuck the little 3-4 year old girls in bed, I cry. 
 
I was in there tonight helping them all brush their teeth and get in their beds.  I walk around and every little girl gives me kisses.  And then I try leaving, and each girl says, "mama kaley, mas besas."  (more kisses).  Seriously, if adoptions were open, I would have way too many kids! Bedtime is so special to me because it just reminds me of bedtime at home with my little sisters.  Whenever I'm home, I usually end up snuggling them and falling asleep in their beds.  I wish I could fit in their tiny little bunk beds here and do that with a different one each night!
 
The only thing that keeps me from going emotionally insane is knowing that Christ has His hand on all the kids here at Dorie's Promise.  These kids are loved, loved, loved by their special mothers, Desi, Joel, and the other staff here.  They are being taught about Christ's love every day here and that is something to praise Jesus about!
 
Impacted by Jesus,
Kaley Kindred
Bloomington, IL
 
 

A Short Term Mission Trip for YOU…

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Dear Dorie’s Promise Friends and Supporters,

What a better way to spend a summer than serving the children of Dorie’s Promise and the outlying communities in Guatemala City. The need here in Guatemala is tremendous. That need translates into lots of amazing opportunities to serve! Please allow me to share with you what your week might look like if you decide to join us this summer. Our mission trips are all about building relationships with the children we serve. We hope that you will enjoy your experience so much that you’ll want to come back and serve again.

Your Team LeaderDesi Stephens has done humanitarian work in Sudan, Uganda and Bulgaria. Since May 2010 she has coordinated both missions and

Desi Stephens at Dorie's Promise Guatemala

Desi Stephens working with the children at Dorie's Promise

child sponsorship at Dorie’s Promise. During her week with you, she will lead morning devotionals, accompany you to projects around the city, and facilitate evening “decompression sessions.” She can address all of your questions and provide you with insights about the problems children face in Guatemala.

Dorie’s Promise:  For more than ten years Dorie’s Promise has provided a loving home for Guatemala’s forgotten children. The orphanage consists of four adjacent houses on a quiet, leafy street in the Oakland neighborhood of Zone 10 in Guatemala City. Up to 40 children live here at any given time. Some of our kids have been abandoned, others neglected or abused. Some are awaiting adoption by Guatemalan or American families. Others will spend their entire childhoods here. You will get to meet the amazing “Special Mothers” who care for the children daily. You’ll also spend lots of time chasing kids in the playground, overseeing craft projects, and rocking infants to sleep.

Ghetto:  In one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods you will attend a church service, where some from you group might be asked to share a few words with the congregation (a translator is available!). Since the church doesn’t have funds for regular Sunday school, your group will also lead a Sunday school activity. Later, you’ll visit the homes of five families, provide them with food baskets, and listen to stories of the challenges they face each day. You will also get to organize an activity for the neighborhood kids, such as a pizza or piñata party.

Garbage Dump:  The city’s sprawling dump serves as home to Guatemala’s most marginalized people. Thousands of families survive here by picking through the refuse for items to resell. We have partnered with Safe Passage, an outstanding organization that has worked with children in the dump for more than a decade. Staffers from Safe Passage will give you a tour of the dump, show you the school they operate, and introduce you to the kids.

Guatemala City Garbage

Serve at the Dump in Guatemala City

Outside Orphanages:  You’ll visit a government-run orphanage where 600 children live, all of them placed there by court order. You’ll be providing them with needed supplies – everything from socks to towels to beds – but more importantly you’ll get to play with them and show them attention they rarely receive.

Antigua and Lake Atitlan – After all your stellar work, the team will unwind in two of Guatemala’s most beautiful places. Antigua is a 500-year-old Spanish colonial town and the former capital of Guatemala. You’ll amble about the cobbled streets, tour the monastery ruins, browse the craft market, and have lunch in one of several lovely restaurants. Shimmering Lake Atitlan is surrounded by volcanoes and Mayan villages, and the lakeside town of

Missions Team in Guatemala City

You Can Come to Guatemala City Too!

Panajachel offers more delightful shopping and dining opportunities.  READ MORE HERE!

Food, Lodging, Transportation – The staff of Dorie’s Promise will pick you up at the airport and drive you to all of our various projects. Our comfy guesthouse at the orphanage has four bedrooms and sleeps up to 20 people. There are spacious living and dining rooms, a computer room with two terminals, and wifi throughout the house. We’ll cater your lunch and dinner each day and provide your breakfast food. If that doesn’t satisfy, you’ll have a fully equipped kitchen to cook up whatever you like.

As you can see, we are all ready for your arrival this summer.

Our team is prepared to share with you a LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE! Contact me to find out how you can become part of a life-changing team this summer.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Heather Radu

P.S.  If you haven’t been to Dorie’s Promise yet, pray about coming!  When you come and serve, you will see lives changed – but more than that you will see your life changed too!