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

Junkabal seeks to actively support the vulnerable families that live around the 40-acre rubbish dump of Guatemala City. They have spent the last 50 years providing opportunities to help those families to leave poverty. This is the largest rubbish tip in Central America, receiving 500 tonnes of waste a day. Hundreds of families that live around the dump and support hazardous and unhealthy existences, scavenging through rubbish containing animal corpses, medical waste and rotting food. All waste is untreated and produces toxic fumes and runoff.  

This project protects young women and children who are at risk of drugs and prostitution, due to their circumstances. Of the 4,000 people living around the dump, 40% are single mothers and their children. They have no access to education or employment, trapped in a self-perpetuating cycle of extreme poverty.

Junkabal works with these children and families to provide educational opportunities focusing on three main issues: training and education, health and nutrition, and the development of transferrable skills and competencies. The aim of Junkabal is to develop a community of healthy well-rounded individuals with the necessary skills to find employment to raise themselves out of poverty. There are currently 120 NGOs working to help the individuals living around the dumps. Junkabal, with the help of WONDER Foundation’s expertise in capacity building and fundraising, has established an effective network for these NGOs to work in cooperation with each other, exchanging best practice and improving their effectiveness in the area.

'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 (Guatemala)




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'My dream is to be able to help my family. Since my dad stopped working our lives are more difficult. If I study hard I hope I can be a doctor so that I can help sick people' - Evelyn, 9, currently studying at Junkabal


Learn more about how to help children in Junkabal (Guatemala) here.