On Friday, August 10th, Safe Passage was honored by a visit from The United States Ambassador to Guatemala, Mr. Arnold A. Chacón, along with his family. During their two-and-a-half hours on site, they learned about the full spectrum of Safe Passage’s hard work in the Guatemala City dump community.
From the ominous vantage point of the Guatemala general cemetery, the Ambassador and his family listened intently as they learned about the toils of families and children collecting recyclables inside the Guatemala City garbage dump. From that dismal scene, Ambassador Chacón toured the Safe Passage Escuelita (preschool), where children ages 2-6 learn through our “Planting Seeds” methodology. The guests progressed to their second stop on the tour with Paola Marroquin, the Escuelita director, along with Héctor Flores, the Superintendent of Education for Zone Three of Guatemala City. These two people have been working tirelessly together to ensure quality education for the Safe Passage students between the ages of two and six.
Mrs. Marroquin’s tour of the preschool and explanation of the empowering, early-childhood Planting Seeds curriculum was given to Ambassador Chacón and his family as they were honored with a dance presentation by our preschool students. Ninety-six students danced, break-danced, and sang with enthusiasm and giant smiles that demonstrated how healthy kids with full stomachs can overcome the daily realities of the garbage dump and be inspired to learn!
Next, we visited the Adult Literacy Program where Ambassador Chacón visited personally withour mothers and learned, surprisingly, that mathematics and social studies were some of their favorite subjects. While upstairs at Social Entrepreneurship Program, Alida Chacón, Mr. Chacon’s wife, helped a family friend find the perfect piece of CREAMOS jewelry to take back to the United States for his mother. She walked away with some beautiful jewelry for herself as well!
The Chacón family learned about Social Entrepreneurship’s third and most recent initiative, Wipes. Wipes are shredded pieces of old fabric that are used as simple rags by mechanics, factories and department stores. Cemaco, a Guatemalan department store, has agreed to buy all the Wipes our Safe Passage mothers can make. Mr. Chacón seemed impressed with the ingenuity of this initiative that will give many more Safe Passage mothers income generating alternative to working in the Guatemala City garbage dump.
The Ambassador and his family continued their tour of Safe Passage, learning of the important work that Safe Passage social workers and psychologists are doing to keep our students in school and studying. Finally, at the main building -the Educational Reinforcement Center- Ellen Renfroe, the Health Program Coordinator, explained how the clinic and her health classes keep our almost 600 students healthy and educated.
Megan McAdams, the English Program Coordinator, presented to the Ambassador about our unique and culturally relevant English program that is launching our students ahead of their peers in English. It was truly an honor for everyone at Safe Passage to host Mr. Chacón and his family. From the staff and volunteers to our students themselves, we wish to thank the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala for visiting our project and seeing first-hand how Safe Passage provides hope and opportunity through education!