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SCAVENGING FOR HOPE

Education offers dump worker a way out

Toledo-founded group aids in rare achievement

Marvin-Yup-mother-Vettesse-dump-07-04-2011

Marvin Yup, 18, his mother, Rosa Yup, meet the Rev. Vettese in the street in their neighborhood near the city dump.

The Blade/David Yonke
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GUATEMALA CITY -- Marvin Yup's face lights up when he spots the Rev. Don Vettese walking through the narrow paved streets of La Libertad, his neighborhood near the city dump.

Mr. Yup shakes the priest's hand, then gives him a hug.

"Father Vettese and International Samaritan have definitely changed my life," Mr. Yup tells a reporter. "It's changed the way I think because I've gotten an education. It's a tool I know I will have forever."

Mr. Yup, 18, used to work the dump as a reciclidore, one of the 1,400 people licensed to scour through the garbage by hand. They work up to 11 hours a day, 6 days a week, making between $15 and $120 a week for the materials they gather and then sell to recyclers.

But education has allowed Mr. Yup to escape the dump life.

Soon he will graduate from high school, a rare achievement in the community. He plans to go to college and become a lawyer.

"I thank God for International Samaritan's programs. I am very grateful for the opportunity," Mr. Yup said. "I ask God to bless all the people who helped."

Standing by his side is Rosa Yup, 42, his mother.

She also greets Father Vettese with a big smile and expresses gratitude for the help that her family has received from International Samaritan.

The nonprofit organization that started in Toledo built a home for Mrs. Yup, free of charge, where she lives with five of her nine children.

"International Samaritan is magnificent!" she says. "I am very, very grateful to International Samaritan because I know that Marvin is going to graduate from this school. All the help you have given him has helped him reach his goal to graduate."

She smiles at Father Vettese and says, "May God bless you!"

Mrs. Yup still works in the city dump, collecting plastic bottles for $5 a day but plans to cut back on the hours she works when Mr. Yup becomes a professional.

"Marvin has promised me that he will take care of me when he is a lawyer," she says. "I hope he doesn't get married before that. He promised me he would not."

Mr. Yup just smiles and shrugs.

PHOTO GALLERIES:

Guatemala City Trash Dump

Life in Guatemala City Ghettos

St. John's Visit to Guatemala Schools

 

RELATED ARTICLES:

Guatemalan laborers get help from Toledo, 7/3/11

St. John's students serve as role models, 7/3/11

Strides made in improving worker' health, safety, 7/3/11

Guatemala gave priest a new direction, 7/4/11

Memories of dump life in Guatemala are hard to shake, 7/4/11

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