This past winter and spring, over 150 volunteers from across the United States joined International Samaritan’s mission to serve and accompany the families and children in garbage dump communities in Guatemala and Nicaragua. Students and faculty have come from the following schools: John Carroll University (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), Marian High School (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan), St. Mary’s Student Parish (Ann Arbor, Michigan), St. Michael Archangel High School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), University of Toledo (Ohio), Aquinas College (Grand Rapids, Michigan), Radford University (Virginia), Regis Jesuit Boys Division (Aurora, Colorado), University of Detroit Jesuit High School (Michigan), and Trinity High School (Manchester, New Hampshire).
We are very grateful for the over 5,000 hours of volunteer service contributed in our schools and nurseries so far this year. Volunteer teams are making dreams come alive for our communities.
One example is the construction of a new computer laboratory at the Francisco Coll School in Guatemala City. Another dream is desperately needed improvements to the Jose Artigas School by fixing the bathrooms so that they are in good working condition, expanding the walkway around the school, and repairing the drinking fountains, which were in disrepair. All of these improvements make it easier for the children to learn in a good working environment.
In March, students Joey Bonnel and Nolan Ebel from Regis Jesuit High School Boys division remarked, “(The first day in the dump community) was one of the most intense days of our lives. It really opened our eyes and made us think about how poverty can control so many lives.” Visiting the garbage dump community can be very eye opening and challenges our volunteers’ views on the poor and poverty. The new friendships with those in the garbage dump community bring our volunteers closer to poverty at the human level.
Poverty is learned with the humble, the poor, the sick and all those who are on the existential peripheries of life. Theoretical poverty is of no use to us. Poverty is learned by touching the flesh of the poor Christ, in the humble, the poor, the sick, in children.
International Program Director