Location: Central America

Language: Spanish

Guatemala is home to rainforests, ancient Mayan sites, and volcanoes – you may have heard about the eruption of Volcan Fuego near the end of 2018. Guatemala is the most populated country in Central America. The capital, Guatemala City, is split into 21 zones and is home to over two million people. Guatemala is considered a biodiversity hotspot due to the large number of different ecosystems within its borders.

About el trebol, guatemala city

The largest dumpsite in Central America, El Trebol began in 1966 and receives about 300,000 tons of household, commercial, industrial and medical waste each year.  It is estimated that 2,000 recyclers, or “guajeros” work at the site.  Underground fires with acrid smoke sporadically break out at the dump.  Pungent smells, insects and animals fills the residential communities surrounding the dump, and leachate from the dumpsite drains into the Zaila and Chinautla rivers.

What we do here

Give Scholarships

We currently support the education of over 100 students in Ethiopia through our Paso a Paso program.

Host Service Immersions

We host 30+ service immersions a year with high schools, universities, organizations, and churches.

Host Medical Missions

We go on several medical missions a year to bring medical care to communities that don’t have access to doctors.

Support Schools

We help pay for schools in garbage dump communities, so they can continue to run and hire excellent staff.

Build Homes

We build homes for families that don’t have them through a mix of volunteer work and contracting local businesses.


We advocate for the individuals in these communities by bringing their stories back to the U.S.

Who we’ve impacted

Note: We are committed to respecting and uplifting our scholars. Due to some stories containing sensitive information, we redact or change the names of the scholars, their parents, their schools, and other details that could compromise their anonymity.

A Letter from Emanuel

Hello, I am Emanuel. I am 20 years old.

When I was in my mother’s womb, she did not want me to be born, so she hit her belly and took medication to cause a miscarriage, but I was born anyway. However, I was so badly damaged that when I was born I had to be hospitalized for two years and I still have physical deformities. When I was young, my mother hit me a lot, and she didn’t take care of me. By the time I was three, I had to feed myself every day; by the time I was five, I was in charge of all the cooking and cleaning for the whole house.

When I was five, my mother finally left me. She changed her name and fled to the United States. Soon after my father left, too, to be with another woman that he was seeing. He left me on the doorstep of my mother’s old boss.  I hoped that things would be better with her, but she also treated me badly. I remember that once she broke my head with a stone and put corn on my head so the birds and chickens would attack me. By the time I was six I wanted to die, and I began to plan how I could kill myself.

My aunt first started coming to see me on the weekends when I was seven years old. Until then, she had lived far away. Even though she couldn’t afford to keep me, she wanted me a lot. She did not hurt me and she took care of my injuries. She begged my dad’s parents to adopt me, and one day she finally convinced them to rescue me from the hell I was living.  When she and my paternal grandparents arrived to bring me home, they found me all naked and dirty. That was the day that my life changed, when my grandparents legally adopted me. They were very nice to me: They took me to the doctor for my injuries, they bought me clothes and shoes, they cut my hair, and after two years of preparation they put me in school with other people my age.

We thought that I would have to stop attending school after sixth grade because it became too expensive, but when I was ready for high school, International Samaritan found me. They gave me the resources to continue schooling. Thank God for this program that has helped me, not only in study but also in moral and psychological ways. Little by little I have changed, because this program believes in the young people who benefit from it. Thanks to International Samaritan my dream to graduate has come true, and I now have the opportunity to go to university. My hope is to get a degree in auditing and form my own company. Finally, my future seems bright.

A Letter from Emanuel

Hello, I am Emanuel. I am 20 years old. When I was in my mother's womb, she did not want me to be born, so she hit her belly and took medication to cause a miscarriage, but I was born anyway. However, I was so badly damaged that when I was born I had to be...

A Letter from Nora

Note: Since this letter was written, Nora has graduated from high school and started studying at University. Everything started when my parents got together. They lived in Zone 18 [of Guatemala City] with my grandmother and my uncles, who lived lives full of luxury...

About Us

International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.

(734) 222-0701

803 N Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

M-F: 9am-5pm, S-S: Closed