Measuring more than 40 acres, the Guatemala City dump is one of the largest open-air landfills in Central America.
1 out of every 3 residents in this community have never been to school. Most adults have only a fourth grade education. The average family of six lives on just $4 per day—less than a dollar a day per person. With limited opportunities and training, many adults struggle to make a living in the dump community.
Guatemalan public schools provide only 4 hours of education each day, and many of those hours are spent in rote memorization. Strikes, weather, and other disruptions cause up to 30 cancelled school days per year. Even the most motivated students have a hard time staying engaged and enrolled. This is why, in 2012 Safe Passage decided to operate an independent, full-day school that is accredited by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education.
In 2012, the Guatemalan Ministry of Education welcomed our proposal to operate an independent, accredited full-day school.
Today, over 500 students, ranging in age from 3 to 21 years, are enrolled at Safe Passage. Nearly 70 parents and grandparents participate in adult education and 140 mothers are members of Creamos.
We’ve come a long way from our early days when Hanley began teaching eager children in the small church across from the garbage dump.
Our students and families are particularly vulnerable to a variety of health complications that threaten their wellbeing. In partnership with Shared Beat, Safe Passage provides students and families with year-round access to an on-site infirmary. Our Health and Nutrition program emphasizes patient education and comprehensive care. We strive to not only treat but to prevent health complaints.
Creamos, consists of the Adult Education and Entrepreneurship Program that is housed in our Centro building. Creamos became an independently recognized Guatemalan NGO for their Guatemala-based operations at the end of 2014, while continuing US operations under Safe Passage.
In the Adult Education Program, nearly 70 adult students participate in daily reading and writing exercises, tutoring, and computer literacy training to prepare them for graduation.
Our social entrepreneurship program took root in 2008, when mothers in our adult education program began making recycled paper beads. Those beads were the seeds that grew into Creamos, a group of 140 moms transforming discarded plastic bags into handbags and totes, and discarded paper into jewelry. These women transform the trash of the dump into an honest living wage, business experience, self-esteem, and respect.
For Safe Passage students, access to education continues well after high school graduation. Next Steps provides graduates with professional development opportunities and access to tools for securing employment and applying to university.
Psychologists and social workers from the Safe Passage Family and Community Services (SERFACO) program provide students and families with resources and guidance to reduce emotional and social barriers to educational success.
Students of all ages demonstrate their innate intelligence in so many different ways. We create and preserve learning environments that respond to the needs of every student. Safe Passage meets the needs of the whole person.
When you make a donation, join a Support Team, sponsor a child, organize an event or volunteer in Guatemala, you help a top rated school empower people and change lives in one of the poorest places on earth.
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We invite you to reach out to our U.S. office in New Gloucester, Maine and our program site in Guatemala City