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Safe Passage: A 2500-mile kayak journey from Maine to Guatemala City

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Dr. Deborah Walters has four reasons for embarking on a 2,500-mile solo journey from Troy, Maine to Guatemala City

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  • To tell the story of the children living in the Guatemala City garbage dump community
  • To share how inspiring the mothers are who labor with grit and perseverance for a better life for their children
  • To talk about the success of the Safe Passage model school that fosters critical thinking, self-sufficiency and confidence.
  • To raise funds for additional grades for the school

On her journey Dr. Walters, plans to stay close to shore from Yarmouth, Maine to mid New Jersey and then follow the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida. To avoid the possibility of armed attacks on small craft in Mexico, Deb will travel from Florida to Belize aboard the sailing vessel Polaris with Bernie Horn, President of Polaris Capital Management, and Rich Howe, Safe Passage Board President. For the final stretch Deb will kayak along a barrier reef and open coast to Rio Dulce in Guatemala.

Besides being a wife and grandmother, Dr. Deborah Walters is a resident of Maine, retired scientist and university leader, Rotarian, Safe Passage Board Member, and kayaking adventurer. Her previous solo kayaking expeditions were in the Arctic, along the Atlantic coasts in the Northeast and the Maritimes, and through tropical waters in Mexico.

Dr. Walters plans to embark on her journey sometime in July 2014. According to Ethan Andrews, news reporter Penobscot Bay Pilot, on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, “On Monday afternoon Deborah Walters parked at the west end of the Armistice Bridge and unloaded a modestly-sized sea kayak. Her husband Chris Percival wheeled it down to the pier at Front Street Shipyard, along with what appeared to be enough gear to fill three or four kayaks.”

Furthermore, according to Mr. Andrews,” In a little less than a month, Walters is planning to embark on a solo trip from Maine to Guatemala. During the 2,500 mile journey, she hopes to raise money for, and draw attention to the work of Safe Passage, a nonprofit working on behalf of children and families who live in slums near the Guatemala City garbage dump”

This is the way the Council on Hemispheric Affairs describes, “The Guatemala City garbage dump, situated in a ravine, occupies 40 acres of land in the nation’s capital. Guatemala is the most populated nation in Central America, with more than 13 million residents.”

However, “This landfill, one of the largest and most toxic in Central America, houses over a third of the country’s waste, including trash, recyclables, and discarded food items. There are few, if any, health and safety restrictions limiting the items that can be disposed of in the dump.” In addition, “Medical supplies, including used syringes, toxins emitted from discarded gas tanks, as well as other biohazardous materials contribute to the dangers of the landfill. Human and animal corpses deteriorate amid the waste, exacerbating already poor sanitation conditions.”


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