May 19, 2010
By Anonymous

At the Guatemalan dump we stood on a hill and watched the bulldozers pushing trash farther into the ravine. They were followed by people that picked up anything that they could sell as scrap in the local recycling shops. This was the everyday life of these people, picking up what they could find and if lucky finding some old food which was still edible that had been thrown away. While in Guatemala we saw the everyday life of these people and how they got by from day to day.

The trip was with my youth group, and planning started long before I was in. We left on July 3rd and returned July 12th in the summer of 2007. Our youth pastors had been missionaries in Guatemala for three years and felt that it would be insightful to the youth group to see some of what they had seen during those years. The trip started in Guatemala City in a place called CASAS. CASAS is an organization that normally takes college age students and gives them a place to stay and work out of to do missions. At CASAS we went on contrast tours of the city to see how the rich and the poor live. This was when we went to see the city dump. Later that day we went to see one of the malls in Guatemala City and just how immense it was. The Mall was three stories high and longer then any I had been in before. It had a movie theater inside and an open area with a waterfall coming from the second story and the roof stretching to the third story roof. It was a stark contrast to the dump and how people lived there.

Another tour was to the city’s cemetery. Here we saw how the wealthy were buried in buildings larger then most houses and made of marble. Not even fifty yards away from the biggest sarcophagus was a wall in which the poor were put in caskets and slid into the wall. The owner of the wall charged a monthly rent for the burial in the wall and if the family of the deceased failed to pay their rent the body was thrown in a mass grave and the space was rented to a family willing to pay.

What my youth group and I saw in Guatemala gave me a new insight into life and how some of the worlds poorest live. I saw how hard the poor in Guatemala had to work just to earn enough to stay alive. Staying in CASAS and going on the contrast tours of Guatemala City really changed my perception on how some of the people in Guatemala really live and the extreme poverty that resides their. I have been told my whole life just how bad of circumstances some people in other countries live, but it was different to see it in real life.

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