Location: Central America
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
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.
We help pay for schools in garbage dump communities, so they can continue to run and hire excellent staff.
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 Garbage Dump in Galilee?
If there were a garbage dump in Galilee 2,000 years ago, I’m confident that Jesus would have gone to it. If you want to know what that would look like in today’s world, please watch the video below. It captures Esther Muhia, the leader of our freshly-established mission in Kenya, looking for children with the most need or the most promise to include in our first round of 50 scholarships this fall.
Esther meeting potential scholarship students in Kenya.
As you watch it, please keep in mind how much Esther resembles the people who did the same:
Angelica Cancinos, in Guatemala City, Guatemala in 2007.
Selam Terefe, in Ethiopia in 2014.
Erika Cuevas, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras in 2016.
Tavian Jones, in Kingston, Jamaica in 2019.
Ronia Romero, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in 2019.
David Kafambe, in Kampala, Uganda in 2023.
All of these extraordinary people are still leading our mission, and all of them started the same way. In each community, they walk the streets to meet with the parents, grandparents, school principals, health officials and others who have established themselves as leaders in the community. The success of your investments depends on these selfless people too.
Esther speaking with a woman at the Dandora Dumping Site in Kenya.
Also, as you watch it, please know that the children you see in it today are likely to become the stars you read about years from now. An encounter just like the ones you will see also happened to:
Akalnesh in Ethiopia who became an industrial engineer.
Elias in San Pedro Sula who became a mechanic.
Elmer in Nicaragua who became a nurse.
Micashane in Jamaica who became a doctor.
Yoselyn in Guatemala who became an accountant.
You can read about all of our graduates from the last year on our pretty spectacular new website by clicking here.
Please take one minute to watch this video. You don’t even have to watch all seven minutes, but please watch at least one, and please pray for the children in them as you do, that they will come to discover and achieve the calling that God has on their lives far outside of the hopelessness that surrounds them now.
Watch the video here here to learn more about Esther and our mission in Kenya.
Mike Tenbusch, IntSam President
Mike joined IntSam in 2018 after two decades of leading social change in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. He’s a University of Michigan Law grad and author of The Jonathan Effect: Helping Kids and Schools Win the Battle Against Poverty. He and his wife, Maritza, have three children who keep them young.
A Garbage Dump in Galilee?
If there were a garbage dump in Galilee 2,000 years ago, I’m confident that Jesus would have gone to it. If you want to know what that would look like in today’s world, please watch the video below. It captures Esther Muhia, the leader of our freshly-established...
Why’d They Do That?
Children growing up in the Riverton area, located near Jamaica’s capital of Kingston, have the double whammy of being poor and the stigma of living and working near a garbage dump. I grew up in Riverton, too. My own dad never had the opportunity to finish primary...
The Hero in My Story
One of the best of many gifts my parents gave me is my middle name, Francis, after my dad’s best friend, Francis Canfield, S.J. Fr. Frank ran the table on the Sacraments with me. He baptized me, gave me First Communion, sponsored me at Confirmation (where I also took...
Our God Given Missions
Each of us has a vocation—a unique mission to live the life God intends for us. If we discern that vocation, He will equip us with everything we need to live it out. My six siblings and I have incredible parents who taught us to live our God-given missions. My dad...
This is Personal
We invest in service immersion trips with our partners because they make global issues personal. It’s one thing to read that one out of ten people in the world live on less than $2 per day. It’s another thing to have a friend who grew up working in the garbage dump to...
International Samaritan is a nonprofit organization with the designation 501(c)(3). Our headquarters is located in Ann Arbor Michigan.