My name is Megan McAdams and my now husband Juan Francisco Roldan worked in Public Relations at Safe Passage while I was a long-term volunteer. As an international couple, neither of our two countries (Juan is Guatemalan and I’m American) felt quite right to Juan for his proposal. He resolved this dilemma by popping the question mid-air,more than 10,000 ft above ground. The pilot’s congratulatory announcement rang in my ears shortly after I, of course, said yes. Not long after his high-flying proposal, we began the exciting, yet daunting process of planning our weddings. (Yes, weddings. As we have two home countries, we needed to make sure to celebrate with all of our family and friends.)
Before we knew it, hundreds of decisions needed to be made about flower arrangements, catering companies, wedding cakes, and first dance songs- just to name a few. With decisions swirling around us, one choice was abundantly clear: our celebrations would be in honor of Safe Passage. At our wedding receptions, we gave a brief speech to guests about the organization and asked for them to contribute in any way possible. Guests had the opportunity to donate online before the wedding. At the wedding, guests could contribute by placing donations in our collection box that was covered in pictures of Safe Passage children and teens.
Our main objective was to get our guests involved with a cause that truly matters to us. We wanted to demonstrate our solidarity with the community and belief that positive change in Zones 3 and 7 of Guatemala City is possible. Over the last 4 years, we have seen the power of positive individual decisions in the face of extreme poverty. We know this change is possible because some of the program’s amazing graduates, who could easily have given up in the face of adversity, celebrate their one-year anniversary in bilingual employment this month. Other graduates have gotten married and started beautiful, loving families where they bring the values learned at Safe Passage into their homes. There is, however, much work to be done.
Progress has been made on many fronts but the community continues to be a dangerous place to be a child and teenager. We hope that through the awareness raised during the weddings, our family and friends join together with current and potential supporters to empower the members of these communities through education. For those newly engaged couples currently planning their weddings, we learned that the special day passes all too quickly, but starting a marriage off by supporting a community organization will stay with you forever. Please consider joining us in building your wedding celebration upon your love for each other and your hope for the communities around the Guatemala City garbage dump.
-Megan McAdams, Safe Passage Ambassador