When I met Maria and Carmen, they were young, grade-school-age girls. They owned no more than the ragged clothes on their back. They had never been to school. They owned no shoes. Their days were spent scavenging recyclables in mounds of trash from the Guatemalan garbage dump where the girls had been trafficked.
Human beings live at the level of narrative. All of our personal stories combine to tell the story of humanity. Some of these stories, like Maria and Carmen’s, are sad. In the time it’s taken you to read this far, a child somewhere has died of starvation or a curable disease (it happens every 30 seconds). Think about this statistic: With the amount of money Americans spend every year on cosmetics and coffee, 100% of these child deaths could be prevented.
Carmen before. Photo courtesy of Tayler Aubin.
These are statistics one comes across everyday. While accurate, they do not connect us as powerfully as names, faces, and stories. Maria and Carmen did not escape from what could have been a dire plight by accident. If you trace the causality back far enough, you will see that it began with a donor a world away deciding to give to a cause he or she believed in.
Four years ago, Maria and Carmen, along with four other girls, were taken out of the garbage dump and given the opportunity to attend school. Today, they continue to study. ”I want to be a nurse,” Maria told me one day. Carmen, as brave as she is shy, wants to be a teacher. These are possibilities because a charity called The Integral Heart Foundation is dedicated to assisting both girls reach for dreams that four years ago would have seemed impossible to them.
Carmen and her sister in a garbage dump. Photo courtesy of Tayler Aubin.
The Integral Heart Foundation supports them on an educational, psychological and personal level. Maria and Carmen’s older sisters have not fared so well. One was forced into the commercial sex trade, and another simply disappeared from everyone’s radar; no one knows what happened to her.
You, the reader, are part of a generation that is thirsty not only to experience the world, but to use its advantages to help ensure that the world does not forget about people like Maria and Carmen. The starting premise of philanthropy is that human beings do not just have the inner desire, but also possess the inner ability, to help reach out and help children like Maria and Carmen. You have this ability.
Carmen and Marian today. Photo courtesy of Tayler Aubin.
This giving season, this site is taking part in the Travel Bloggers Without Borders campaign to raise enough funds to provide education for 55 children in Guatemala such as Maria and Carmen. By clicking through (and asking others to do the same) and making a donation of whatever you can ($1, $15, $25, etc… ), you contribute in a very real way to changing someone’s life.
Please help us by spreading the world and making a donation today.
Don’t just travel the world; help make it a better place for everyone!
*This has been a guest post by Luke Maguire Armstrong, blogger at Travel.Write.Sing and a passionate supporter of the Travel Bloggers Without Borders Project
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