October 26, 2012
I became familiar with Safe Passage in the summer of 2010 when my 21 year old son became a long-term volunteer for this group. I heard much about what SafePassage was accomplishing from him during his first 6 months, and was so impressed with what the oganization accomplishes that I, under their support team program, recruited 4 others to put together a support team and we went to Guatemala in June of 2011 for a week of volunteering. There, we saw first hand the incredible success and magic of this organization. Let me take a step back in my story - in 1989 I went to Guatemala (one of many, many visits over the years) and adopted my son Nicholas. He is the the son volunteering at Safe Passage now. I returned in 1991 for my son Steven, and in 1995 for my daughter Rosie. My daughter Rosie went with us on our SafePassage support team trip. Safe Passage has wrapped its collective arms aroung the families living around and working in the Guatemala city dump - families that for generations have been at the bottom of Guatemala's poor. Its mission is to bring hope, education, and opportunity to the children and families living in extreme poverty around the City's garbage dump." Today, Safe Passage has over 100 children in its 'estrilta' preschool (where my son has been a teachers aid in the 2 year old classroom for 2 years), and over 500 children in the educational reinforcement program. The children in the estrelita are there all day, receives all of their meals, engage in a outstanding pre-school curriculum 'planting seeds' , get bathed, brush their teeth, see a dentist twice a year, get medical care, etc. etc. THe children in the educ reinforcement program are provided with books, uniforms, backpacks and tuition to attend the guatemala public schools(which are half day) and spend the other half of the day at safepassage where they have meals, brush their teeth! learn english, get homework help, take music and art, do sports, , and on top of this, these 600 + plus children, representing over 300 families in the dump, often have an active mother or father in the adult literacy program , a mother who no longer works at the dump because she is successful in the jewelry cooperative, a family that is lifting itself out of poverty. Safe Passage is providing these 300 + families a way out of the grinding poverty through education, and Caring - and not a lot of money. THe program has a guatemalan staff of teachers and social workers, at any time over 40 volunteers from all over the world who commit a minimum of 2 months of the life to the program, and dozens of volunteer support teams from around the world that go to guatemala for a week at the program - Rotary clubs, high school and college groups,medical teams, teachers, etc. etc. Never have I seen such an amazing impact on such a large number of families - it truly is astounding. Go to their site, www.safepassage.org and see some of the wonderful things these kids and families are doing. And finally, for my personal perspective, adopting children who are in need of a family because of poverty in a country comes with its own share of sadness, for the family that was but could not continue. I am incredibly proud of the work of SafePassage in that they truly are providing what is needed for Families to stay together and thrive together.
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