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Can you imagine making your living by sorting through other people's rubbish, in the desperate hope of finding something worth selling?

Without education, this is the fate of many families in Guatemala City, including children - but it doesn’t have to be.

In Guatemala we partner with the Junkabal Foundation, which seeks to help the vulnerable families living around the 40-acre rubbish dump of Guatemala City through high quality education for children and parents. The dump is the largest in Central America, and the untreated waste is hazardous and unhealthy for the hundreds of families who live there and scavenge from it.

Junkabal School offers vital hope and opportunities to young women and children. The school has around 450 students currently enrolled and offers pre-school, primary and secondary education.

At Junkabal every student learns a curriculum of language and communication, maths, science, physical education, music, art, computing, technology, religious education, social education and citizenship. In addition, a whole range of extracurricular activities are offered to students after school and during the holidays, including art, handicrafts and cooking. Each student gets one-to-one support with their studies, helping them to prepare for success in education and the future. The school also works closely with parents, especially mothers, to provide guidance and support in ensuring students receive the best possible education and opportunities.

In short, Junkabal is able to offer a quality of education that is not otherwise available to vulnerable children. State schools are often overcrowded, underfunded and under-resourced, with low levels of student attainment and teacher training.

In order to ensure every child has the opportunity to learn, and be safe from child labour and exploitation, Junkabal offers subsidised fees and scholarships. The school also works closely with parents, especially mothers, to offer vocational training courses to help them secure better paid jobs and/or start their own businesses.

How you can help

Junkabal is renowned for its excellence, and providing the best possible learning environment for disadvantaged students. However, this comes at a cost, and Junkabal cannot support as many students as it would like.

For just £60 a year (less than 17p per day!) you can support a family send their child to school to receive an excellent quality education that will equip them for life, and give them confidence, knowledge and skills to strive for a better future. Donations made will go towards subsidy of school fees for the most vulnerable children and towards uniform and equipment costs for low-income families.

“I had an injury and could no longer work, which was very difficult as I have two children. I saw an advert about Junkabal in the newspaper and chose it because it was the only school that I could afford. Thanks to Junkabal I overcame my depression, improved my self-esteem and found my true calling in the kitchen” – Eunice Helen Giron de Castro, past student, Junkabal    

“My dream is to be able to help my family. Since my dad stopped working our lives are more difficulty. If I study hard I hope I can be a doctor so that I can help sick people” - Evelyn’s dad has struggled to find work since he injured himself sorting through rubbish. Her mother has a job in a factory. Their income was already low but has now fallen and they were struggling to survive. Evelyn applied to Junkabal and was overjoyed to get a place. She still has to work at weekends but is a step closer to her dreams.

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