I have resisted taking pictures of people caught in the despair of life here in the Guatemala City dump. It feels voyeuristic and exploitive in some ways, but when I saw this guy passed out at 8:30 am, it was like a punch between the eyes. For 1 quetzales (about 8 is equal to one American dollar) you can sniff yourself into oblivion with a soaked rag or small bottle of glue, solvent– whatever. It’s cheaper than alcohol, so it’s widespread and very easy to get hooked. Sure, you can judge them for doing it, but if this was your life you might be tempted to take any escape you could get– even a temporary high. It’s a very tragic sight– he passed out with the rag he was sniffing stuck up his nose.
This trip has taught me a ton about having compassion and empathy for others. I was pretty bankrupt in that department before coming here. I will never be the same after this experience– and I agree completely with Victoria’s commentary. Our economy in America has impacted the people here too. One of the masons we are working with was recently laid-off at a Lee Jeans factory. According to him 13,000 workers were laid-off there. I don’t remember seeing that in WWD.
This is no way to live, and anyone of us could have been born here. I guess we won the lottery in the sky.
There air is alive with smoke, stench, dust and plastic bags.
The people are jammed– the home we worked on was 8′ wide.
Everything is picked-over for any bit of value. We saw box springs being taken apart for the metal coils– chip boards being melted down to remove the plastic so they could get to the copper– plastic crates, pallets, tin and salvaged scraps of wood used to build homes.
If you want to help kids in the Guatemala City dump, check out —