Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gratitude in Guatemala

Due to internet connection difficulties, this post is from my experiences on Wednesday. If possible, I'll post today's activities within the next few hours. Cross your fingers and read on ...

The communities near Potter’s House appear to be in the dump because of the trash lying around, but these homes are on the fringes, not in the dump itself. 

Berta thanks God for her concrete house.

            Potter’s House helps many people build concrete block homes with metal doors, which keep out the rain. Today I met Berta who was thrilled to show me her house built by volunteers this past summer. About fifteen by fifteen feet square, and with one bed, Berta’s clean and tidy house is home to five people: her daughter and three grandchildren plus herself. Her previous house in the same location had been built of sticks. Berta worked in the dump for thirty-five years but stopped three years ago because of multiple deaths associated with trash slides during the rainy season. Now she classifies glass from the dump by color and shape for recyclers.
Rosita and Remedios are community leaders who petition the municipality for improvements in their neighborhood. They pose with Carol, their friend from Potter's House.

Carolina lives in a lovely corrugated metal home with a dirt floor, a TV, stereo, and curtains that separate the sleeping area from her kitchen area. She thanks God for allowing her children to study through the Safe Passage NGO program after one of her daughters witnessed a murder in a previous school. Carolina prays every time she enters the dump to work because cries for help from last summer’s trash slide haunt her as she remembers seeing people sink into the trash where no one could rescue them. Their families hunted for the bodies but never found them. She told us that just yesterday there were two accidents in the dump - one woman was run over by a garbage truck and killed, and a man’s leg was crushed by another truck.

           In the midst of the sadness that permeates this area, hope shines in the eyes of these beautiful people. Not hope for escape from this lifestyle but hope for a better future for their children. Anna told me her priority is for her kids to go to school, unlike many of her neighbors who want their children to work in the dump alongside them. Anna does odd jobs, ironing and laundry and cleaning when it’s available. 

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