Graduation is the event we look forward to all year long here at Safe Passage. It is the culmination of years of hard work and investment in the lives of our students. Our annual graduation ceremony recognizes our students who have demonstrated diligence and commitment- overcoming many challenges along the way. 

This year, we celebrated the tremendous success of 20 students who graduated from our Educational Reinforcement Program. 

These students have completed their high school studies and are now moving into the exciting world of work or higher education. They will continue to receive support and guidance from our Next Step program.

The graduation ceremony took place in the Educational Reinforcement Center, where the cafeteria was transformed by staff and volunteers in the days leading up to the ceremony. A sea of blue and white ribbons and balloons awaited the students as they entered to tumultuous applause from their families. There is no day that brings more happiness or pride for everyone at Safe Passage than when our students take this important next step in their lives. Graduation is an important milestone for anyone, but for our students, most of whom will be the first in their family to graduate high school, this is the culmination of an almost impossible dream. This is also a crucial step in breaking the cycle of poverty, making the leap that only 10% of Guatemalan public school students manage – to graduate high school.  

Roles were reversed in the afternoon when the children, staff and volunteers celebrated the educational achievements of the parents of Safe Passage. This year, 11 parents- 8 mothers and 3 fathers, graduated from our Adult Literacy program. To see children looking on with equal satisfaction and pride as their Moms or Dads graduated from our Adult Literacy program was an unforgettable occasion. It was a privilege to see the beaming smiles and glistening eyes of the Safe Passage mothers and fathers as they were congratulated by their own children. In a way, this means even more to the parents as this was their second chance in life to receive an education.

I had always hoped to be able to go to my son’s graduation; I never dreamed that he would come to mine.” –Safe Passage mother

There was a particularly touching moment when Petronilla Damián, a mother in our CREAMOS program who recently lost her sight, received a special award from our Adult Literacy Program to thunderous applause. It reinforced for everyone present that there is no limit to what can be achieved with hard work and support. 

It is towards these days that Safe Passage strives. This is the success that Hanley herself envisioned on that first day when she visited the garbage dump. To take children who were living a life in awful, grinding poverty, and empower them to become the well-educated, motivated, vivacious and considerate young adults that graduated on Saturday.

Thank you to all of the many people associated with Safe Passage who make this work possible. The joy, smiles, tears and laughter show how much this means to the families of the garbage dump community and how much your support creates tangible results!

-Matthew Meehan
Visitors Coordinator

See more graduation photos via our Facebook album here.