The Sadness

Guatemala City dump

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.

Guatemala City

This is no way to live, and anyone of us could have been born here.  I guess we won the lottery in the sky.

Guatemala City dump

There air is alive with smoke, stench, dust and plastic bags.

Guatemala City dump

The people are jammed– the home we worked on was 8′ wide.

Guatemala City dump

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. 

Guatemala City dump

If you want to help kids in the Guatemala City dump, check out — 

Potter’s House Association


7 thoughts on “The Sadness

  1. Wow. Thanks for the eye opener. And I thought that I had a small dose of it yesterday when I spent time at a nursing home for the indigent here in Washington DC. We don’t have a clue about poverty if all we do is look at our version of it here in the States.

  2. Unfortunately, this is what many post-industrial cities in America will look like if we can’t get ourselves on track. I could take a picture like the first one almost every morning here in Detroit.

  3. Thanks Jon Patrick – a STARK reminder how much many of us have to be grateful for and how we could be doing more to help others and that some of these things don’t have to be the way they are – greed hurts everyone.
    pictures are hard but good – thanks for sharing

  4. I am loving these photographs you have been adding, and even more so because you are showing the good and the bad. Keep it up! Hoping the trip is going well!

  5. I have become so focused on my own little circles and fixations that I have in large part missed the world around me. This trip has changed my life.

  6. I live in a racially mixed community in Los Angeles. I need only walk around the corner to see elements of poverty like this. On the other hand I see remnants
    of a culture that try’s so hard to assimilate in what is called the AMERICAN DREAM. Food carts, wrought iron, tile, stucco, trucks and forever waiting for”God is the Lucky”.
    The trip has changed your life, and the ripple effect is changing ours. Thank You

  7. Jon,

    Great job with each of the daily blogs. I certainly will never forget this past week.


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