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Dreams from the Dump
by Analiz Schremmer
Posted on Tuesday, December 05, 2017
Every morning, Aurora wakes up and walks one hour to the bus. After a 45-minute ride, she steps into the Ravine, a Chimaltenango city dump, where she begins her daily search for pieces of trash that can be collected and either used for her family or re-sold.

On a good week, she makes $10. On a bad one, $7. It’s enough to buy a little bit of food for her family, but barely that.

That’s why her dream of a quinceañera (Guatemalan coming-of-age party) for her daughter, Monica, seemed completely unattainable. Until, that is, she met a group of volunteers from Orphan Outreach. She told them what she wanted for her daughter.

That was when Aurora’s dream grew wings.


The volunteers discussed the idea with Orphan Outreach staff, and they decided to raise funds for one big quinceañera. Not just for Monica, but for all young ladies whose parents worked at the Ravine.



The party would celebrate Monica and her cousins, Mayra and Mariana, who are sisters.

“Working in the city dump becomes a generational thing,” explained Heydi Sanchez,   coordinator for the Orphan Outreach Community Care Center (CCC) located in Chimaltenango. “So, a lot of the people we serve are related.”

The CCC offers an array of services, including an after-school program for elementary-age children and a mentoring program for middle school students, as well as wraparound care for families.

Mayra and Mariana’s mother is bedridden with kidney failure, and Orphan Outreach covers the cost of the dialysis keeping her alive. As a demonstration of gratitude, the girls are regular volunteers at the CCC. They help with office work as well as cooking and cleaning for the after-school program kids, and they are able to enjoy the same meal that is provided for the children in the program.

Their father is their mother’s full-time caregiver, so the girls take turns making the daily 30-minute walk to the river for water, which they balance above their heads in a large, clay container.

“The parents of the three girls would never be able to throw them a quinceañera because they barely have enough to eat,” Sanchez says. “They don’t have electricity or running water.”

“They also don’t have money for medicine so they rely on home remedies,” she shares. “They don’t take their children to the hospital until they are already dying.” She says that, sadly, Aurora has lost four of her seven children because of the lack of access to healthcare.


Sanchez says the party served as a symbol of hope for the next generation, that these three young women would enjoy a brighter adulthood than their parents. The three girls are responsible and dedicated to their studies. They are all determined to finish high school, which is very uncommon, and Monica hopes to go to college to become a missionary.


“The party became a big project that all the staff got involved in and excited about,” she shares. “One of our program teachers, Nusly, took the lead on decorations. She asked the young ladies to collect glass bottles from the dump so she could make the table centerpieces. Another one of our teachers is the son of the pastor, so the pastor agreed to let us have the reception in his church.”

And Sanchez took the girls out to buy shoes for the party, which was a lot of fun, but took longer than expected because the girls were inexperienced in shopping.

“Quinceañeras are very important in Guatemala,” Sanchez explains. “It is the time when a girl stops being a child and becomes a woman. Quinceañeras symbolize the transition in which society will no longer treat them as children, but rather, as young women. In a lot of families, this is when girls can start dating.”


In addition to local staff and friends and family of the girls being celebrated, six volunteers from Women for Orphans Worldwide, an auxiliary of Orphan Outreach, were present.



“These women made the trip to Guatemala so that they could be a part of the special day, including her sponsor, Jennifer Kassing,” said Tiffany Taylor Wines, Orphan Outreach Marketing Director and co-Founder of WOW. “The women helped with the decorations and represented all of the people who know Monica and Aurora and have been praying for her family.


“We were all dramatically impacted by being part of this very special celebration.”

Wines says when it came time in the celebration for families to present their daughters with a quinceañera ring, “Aurora gave Jennifer the honor of participating in the ceremony as a representative of the family. We all broke down in tears. It was our honor to be there and help these families on such a significant day.”


Sanchez says the WOW group played a big part in making the event memorable for the girls and their families.

“It was everything they had dreamed of,” She says. “The group of volunteers gave the girls tiaras and bracelets, and they paid for them to get manicures and their hair styled. They brought decorations and materials and cameras with printers so they could give them the pictures right away.”


The celebration included a sermon, a presentation of new Bibles for the girls and a ring to go on each of their fingers.

The grandmother of the three girls stood up and thanked Orphan Outreach for the party and the support received by her three granddaughters.


“Aurora stood, too, Sanchez says. “But she was trembling and only sobs came out.”

Her dream had come true.

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