Q. Why does International Samaritan focus on garbage dump populations?
A. According to the United Nations, garbage dump dwellers live in the most severe and chronic poverty in the world. The developed world has no poverty comparable to what you witness in garbage dump communities. Most do not have running water or electricity. There is no access to health care or proper housing. Children are subjected to unimaginable horrors, malnutrition, and very little, if any, education. The average life span of a garbage dump dweller is 49 years. We are the only nonprofit in the world solely focused on this population. We have been very encouraged over the years to witness measurable results due to the services we are able to provide through the generosity of our volunteers and donors - the housing, schools, medical centers, microloans and other programs are making a huge impact. We study our programs' successes and can report incredible improvements in the areas of education, health, and job placement. We are also impressed with the work ethic of the garbage dump community. Parents are utilizing every service we give them to the fullest extent. For example, attendance at our school in Guatemala is 99%. International Samaritan has developed programs that build on the will and ability of this population to improve their own conditions, one step at a time.
Q. What distinguishes your service learning trips from others?
A. We have a very specific mission and, as a result, we have been able to measure the impact of our programs over a long period of time. For over a decade, we have worked to continuously improve upon our services. Volunteers and donors can see our programs take root and flourish. They can be a part of these life-changing programs. Our volunteers make wonderful connections with the children and families we serve. They can follow these communities, watch the improvements, and see the children continue their education and escape a life of garbage dump squalor. Our volunteers are a major part of our success. This is part of the reason our volunteers return to our sites again and again. In addition, we believe nonprofits can and should produce measurable results. That is why we study the impact our trips have on volunteers. Based on this research, we can plan every detail of a service learning trip so that you will gain the most from your experience, and do the most good. We also provide training and bibliographies for teachers and group leaders to use prior and after the trips. We tailor each trip to meet the needs of each group. All of this contributes to the distinction of our mission, and the motivation of our board, donors, and volunteers.
Q. What institutions do you work with?
A. Our travelers come from high schools, universities, colleges, churches, and medical institutions from all across the United States. Click here to see a list of our School Affiliations.
Q. What difference has International Samaritan made?
A. From building the first International Samaritan home more than a decade ago, an estimated 10,000 people now are being served through our ministries around the world. We have plans to take our services to several more garbage dump communities in need of help in the near future. Please see the Impact Page for a list of our programs
Q. How can I get involved?
A. There are many ways you can serve. You can join us on a medical or humanitarian service trip. Give a donation. Volunteer at our headquarters in Ann Arbor. Join our Facebook page. Most importantly, pray for our mission and the people we serve, and be socially conscious regarding poverty throughout the world.
Q. How do I make a donation?
A. International Samaritan appreciates any financial support you can offer. Based on our last three audits, International Samaritan's operating costs are 5.2% of our total budget; that means nearly 95% of the donations we receive go directly to our poverty relief programs for those in need. We'll be happy to work with you and link you to a specific need in one of the garbage dump communities we serve. Contact us at 734-222-0701, or donate online.
Q. Do you have to be Christian to participate in a service trip?
A. No, all are welcome to come and serve. International Samaritan welcomes volunteers from all walks of life. Our focus is on serving the poor, rather than proselytizing.
Q. Do I have to be a doctor or nurse to go on a medical mission trip?
A. No. Volunteers help with eyeglass clinics, the pharmacy, and support doctors and dentists. Typically, there will be several doctors and nurses and just as many lay people on our medical brigades.
Q. My church, school, or social organization would like to support International Samaritan's mission. How do I start this process?
A. Groups can get involved by sponsoring a service trip, raising money through fundraisers, collecting materials for service trips, and recruiting volunteers. Contact Oscar Dussán at 734-222-0701 to discuss your interests in our service missions.
Q. Do I have to know the language of the country to be served by the service trip?
A. International Samaritan provides translators to accompany our service trip volunteers.
Q. Do you have any service trip fundraising tips?
A. Yes, upon request, we can provide you with a list of fundraising ideas.
Q. Where will I be staying while on a service trip?
A. Volunteers will either stay in one of our retreat houses or in a hotel.
Q. What safety precautions do you take for service trip volunteers?
A. While there is always a risk associated with travel, we take every precaution to ensure the safety of our volunteers, from carefully selecting where participants stay, to educating our volunteers about how to stay healthy and safe throughout the trip. In addition, we have nurtured positive relationships with the local governments of the countries in which we serve.
Q. Is there anyone I can speak to who has had experience on an I.S. mission trip?
A. Yes, we would be happy to connect you with an I.S. mentor. Please do not hesitate to ask any question that comes to mind. We are here to help make your service trip successful and positive.
Q. How can I learn more about service trip opportunities?
A. Service trips are scheduled throughout the year to various locations. Contact Andrew Pawuk, International Program Director, for more information.