We are driving down the streets of Zone 7, heading towards the Safe Passage main building for our first day back after a few weeks off for the holidays. A van full of Guatemalans and gringos alike approaching our facilities, all extra-eager to return to this project that we care about so much. As we turn the corner and pull up to the building, we see the line of students and parents on the street, waiting for us too. The van stops, and we pile out into the street, many volunteers receiving hugs and kisses from family members they have known for years here in Guatemala City. I’m still relatively new here; only 2 months or so, and find a deep respect for those who have committed years and years to the children and parents who are so grateful for their support.
Volunteers and staff rush inside, and form a human welcoming-tunnel, and as students begin to pour in the halls for their new year of school they are met, one by one, with thunderous applause and more high-fives and hugs. The energy is high as students branch off to their respective classrooms, so many of them now one year and one grade closer to achieving what so few in their neighborhood or in their homes grasp: a proper education and a real diploma. Today is a day to celebrate, and everybody knows it.
Just last week all of these students had stopped by to receive their new school supplies: backpacks, pens, notebooks, school uniforms, shoes, etc, with a promise that they would commit to attending school and commit to Safe Passage for another year. Today is the first day of keeping that promise; students keeping the promise that they will pursue education and opportunities outside of a life in the garbage dump or settling for less, and faculty keeping their promise of walking side by side with these students every step of the way. You can see more photos from the first day of school here on our Facebook album.
If this year is going to be as exciting, chaotic, challenging and encouraging as today is, then I, for one, am extremely excited about 2013.