Sam is an 18 year old young man from Maine who is just starting his first year of college. Wilson is a 5 year old who lives in a Zone 3 slum of Guatemala City with his mother and 2 siblings. Each day Wilson comes to Safe Passage’s Guardería while his mother works recycling materials picked from the municipal dump. Though Sam and Wilson’s lives are about as far apart as two lives could possibly be, they met last March when Sam came to Safe Passage for a week as a part of a Support Team from his high school. They instantly formed a bond that changed both of their lives in a big way. The following is their story, told by Sam himself…

“We were volunteering one day in the Guardería and I was assigned to work in the classroom of 4 year olds. I felt a little awkward at first because of the language barrier, so I decided to sit down in the middle of the room and see if any children would come to me. A little boy named Wilson came up with a giant stuffed bear and a book in hand, Franklin Goes to School. He was saying something to me, and although I couldn’t understand exactly what he was saying, I could tell he wanted me to read it to him. We read for a while, built a block tower, and then most of the kids went out for recess, but the tea

cher asked me to stay in with Wilson. I thought it was a little odd at first, until she starting telling me about his family situation and how difficult his life here is, and that he is a young boy in great need of some extra attention. His personality and story made a huge impression on me. It also stood out how much he clung on to me, always wanting hugs and to be held, and always smiling when I was with him!

After I went home to Maine, I continued to think about Wilson a lot, and knew that I had to sponsor him, so I sent him the first letter and package about a week after I returned. I just couldn’t meet him and spend that time with him and then go home and forget about him. He doesn’t have a lot of people to look after him and to care for him, so I decided I wanted to be one of those people!

It really was humbling to spend time here at Safe Passage and with Wilson. It made me aware of how much we have back home. You hear about places like Guatemala City and about kids like Wilson, but until you see them for yourself it just isn’t the same.”

In July, Sam flew back to Guatemala to spend an entire week at Safe Passage to celebrate Wilson’s 5th birthday, during which he he spent time with Wilson, organized a birthday party for him and his class, and treated him to a delicious dinner out. After first meeting in March, their bond was only strengthened, and they have each gained a new brother. Sam’s eyes have been opened to a reality different to the one he knew in Maine, and Wilson now has a mentor that cares for him and may just give him a better chance at beating the odds to success.

If you are interested in becoming a Safe Passage Sponsor, please visit and email to continue the conversation!