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Silvia is 17 years old, studying tourism and hotel management in school and coming to Safe Passage to do her homework each afternoon. She lives near the Guatemala City garbage dump with her parents and nine siblings. She was interviewed by Volunteer Claudia Reuter of Germany.
Q: How and when did you get in touch with Camino Seguro/Safe Passage?
A: Hanley came to our home and asked my mother for permission to bring me to her project. That was ten years ago, when I was seven. I was very excited! I knew I would like it and I could learn something. And yes, I liked it! I got clothes and food from Hanley. Many of my friends came to the project as well, but now they are out of school and leading their own lives.
Q: Why do you think Hanley came to your house?
A: My parents never could study because our family is very poor. They had to work in the dump all their lives, as did all the previous generations in the family. We never had money, so my siblings and I couldn’t go to school.
Q: What do your parents do today, and where do you live?
A: They need to continue working in the dump. Their working hours are hard; usually they start at 6am and end at 9pm. We still live in the same house as before, which is very small and very close to the dump. The walls of the house are made of stone, and it has an aluminum roof. We have two rooms; I share my room with three of my younger sisters.
Q: What is a typical day for you?
A: I’m studying Tourism and Hotel Management. This education will take me three years. I start school in the morning at 6am, and I finish in the afternoon at 3pm. My school is in Zone 1 of Guatemala City, a better area than where I live right now. After school I take a public bus back home and go straight to Camino Seguro/Safe Passage to do my homework. Most of my classmates have a lot of money and a computer at home; I don’t. Here I can use the Computer Lab, and if I need help, I can ask a teacher.
Q: How do you handle the difference, when you are in school and then back home? It must be very difficult for you.
A: Sometimes it is very difficult. Many classmates talking about what they did last weekend or what exciting things they are planning next. Shopping with friends, cinema, or travelling. When they asked me the first time what I’m doing, I told them that I’m poor, not where I’m coming from. My knowledge and that I can learn is more important.
Q: In what way has Camino Seguro/Safe Passage made a difference in your life?
A: Without Camino Seguro/Safe Passage I would never have had the possibility to go to a school like this. I would work in the dump and have children already. Now I’m more educated and don’t have to have children at early age; because without education there is no money and more poverty. I’m very lucky. Camino Seguro/Safe Passage pays all my school fees, the uniform, the school material. Furthermore, my family gets a monthly food bag.
Q: What do you want to do in the future?
A: I want to be a guide, to show people my beautiful land.