By the end of 2013, over 250 volunteers will have participated on an International Samaritan service learning trip to the developing world. Volunteers come from all across the U.S. seeking to open themselves to something new by witnessing the conditions of garbage dump living, developing new relationships with others, and learning about poverty. It is a big leap for volunteers to witness the reality of the poorest of the poor. They are out of their comfort zones, instantly vulnerable, and will have their hearts marked forever. They will never forget the sight of children living in abysmal conditions, the pungent smell of rotten food from the trash dump, the feeling of dust and smoke on their sweaty skin, and the sound of salsa music being played from salvaged stereos among the rows of houses.

As volunteers get to know members of the community, their concept of poverty is challenged. Suddenly, statistics like 2.4 billion people survive on less than $2.00 per day begin to have a deeper meaning. The poor behind these statistics now have faces and names. They’ve shared a smile and a special memory. Volunteers now have a more personal connection to the severely poor.

To get more information about service learning trips, contact Andrew Pawuk, International Program Director, at (734) 222-0701.