A small group of people in Maine, US, are making a big impact in Guatemala.
The South Berwick-Eliot Rotary (Maine, US — D 7780) and the Marshwood High School Interact clubs on Thursday presented a cheque for $5,000 to Safe Passage.
Anne Marie Klein Christie, US director for Safe Passage, said she was gratified by the warmth and generosity of the Rotarians.
Working in Guatemala City since 1999, Safe Passage brings hope, education, and opportunity to the children and families making their lives around the city’s garbage dump.
Klein Christie said she would be going to Guatemala on Sunday for a couple of weeks where they were very excited to have two and three-year-old children coming to the daycare and to add a sixth-grade class to the elementary school.
“It’s so important for our kids because the dropout rate is so high in Guatemala, and in Guatemala City it’s extremely high,” Klein Christie said.
“The situation these children are in with gangs and poverty means we really need to work with them. It is so important.”
Safe Passage has social workers on the streets and she said they do what they can to address poverty in that space.
“It’s not just a lunch for one day, we’re teaching them to fish,” Klein Christie said.
“We promised to be there for years to come and it’s only possible because of this Rotary Club and Rotary International. Your work here has been essential for us to be able to grow.”
Klein Christie said as the Rotarians were enjoying their breakfast Thursday morning, so too will the children, who get four meals a day.
“Right about now they are pouring into the school wearing shirts and shoes you have given them,” Klein Christie said.
“This $5,000 today is the equivalent of a teacher salary for the year, so it makes a real impact.”
Rotary President Skip Cousens, along with two officers from the Interact Club at Marshwood High School, presented Klein Christie with the cheque, $1,000 which came from the student fundraising efforts.
With the assistance of advisors from the South Berwick-Eliot Rotary Club and faculty advisors, including Grace Jacobs, the Interact students organise projects throughout the year.
Jacobs said they meet weekly to work on the service projects that have an impact locally and globally.
“We have 45 Interact students right now,” Jacobs said. “These are students who want to be involved in something and make a difference, knowing that what they are doing matters.”
Jacobs said they could use volunteers in case, “there are any adults out there who want the same feeling.”
The group has a comedy night show and dinner fundraiser coming up on March 2.