The Missions Committee of the First Church in Belfast, UCC, held a CREAMOS jewelry sale after church services from April 17 to May 22, and raised $1315 to benefit their international project for 2011-2012, Safe Passage in Guatemala City.

Safe Passage was started by the late Hanley Denning, a Bowdoin College graduate in 1999. This nonprofit organization works to bring educational opportunities to the poorest at-risk children of families who work in the Guatemala City garbage dump.

Within a safe and caring environment, they provide a comprehensive and integrated program that fosters hope, good health, educational achievement, self-sufficiency, self-esteem and confidence. Their primary focus is on creating opportunities and dignity for children and their parents through the power of education.

Safe Passage’s educational reinforcement center is located in Guatemala City near the garbage dump and adjacent to the homes of the children and families they serve. Previously spending long hours each day alongside their parents, scavenging for things to sell or eat, nearly 600 children now have the opportunity to go to public school. Safe Passage pays for school tuition fees, uniforms and school supplies.

Each day, the children attend public school for half of the day, and for the other half they come to Safe Passage, where they receive help with their homework, a daily nutritious meal, medical attention, social work services, art, music, sports and other fun activities that allow them to be kids.

The CREAMOS jewelry project grew out of the Adult Literacy Program at Safe Passage, which began with seven mothers and one volunteer in 2004 with the goal of helping all seven graduate with their sixth-grade diploma.

They now have 18 graduates, 12 of whom are now furthering their studies with donor scholarships and 50 others studying for their diplomas. In 2009 a father’s class was started. 15 fathers are now studying in night classes. Students learn reading, writing, mathematics, natural and social sciences, English, and computer literacy.

Judy Williams, the chairwoman of the Missions Committee at First Church in Belfast, has traveled to Guatemala City with her daughter, Elizabeth Eyerer of Boston, to serve on a Mother/Daughter Support Team at Safe Passage.

While in Guatemala, they worked with a team of 10 American mothers and daughters and ten Guatemalan mothers and daughters, helping with English language instruction, craft and cooking projects, and enjoyed an outing with the Guatemalan mothers and daughters to a local water park and beach.

On Sunday, July 10, Williams and Eyerer will share their Guatemalan experiences in a presentation after church services at the First Church in Belfast. The public is invited.