Grandmother Kayaking 2,500 Miles: Maine to Guatemala Garbage Dump

By / Life on the Island / Wednesday, 24 December 2014 05:00

Visited This Week to the Wilmington Region – Dec. 15th to 19th

Why is Dr. Deb Walters, a 63 year old grandmother from Troy, Maine paddling her kayak from her home in Maine to the homes of the children living at the huge garbage dump in Guatemala City? Nine years ago she first visited the garbage dump and met the parents who are supporting their families by scavenging in the garbage dump. She listened to the mothers voice their desire that their children could go to school, learn to read and have a better life. Deb says: “That simple wish broke my heart, and I knew I had to help.” For nine years Deb has volunteered with Safe Passage, a Maine registered nonprofit that enables the children to attend school. Now she is increasing her commitment by making this year-long journey of over 2,500 miles to share the stories of the children and raise money to add additional grades to the Safe Passage school.
A retired cognitive scientist, Rotarian and university vice president from Troy, Maine, Deb has previously completed several solo kayak expeditions in the Arctic, Nova Scotia, Maine, Florida and Mexico, so she has the experience necessary to complete this audacious endeavor. “This is not a macho, me against the sea challenge”, says Deb, who is paddling cautiously and safely. She is inspired by the grit and perseverance of the children and the families of the garbage dump, and believes that ordinary people can do extraordinary things with determination and persistence. Her journey from Maine to Guatemala is a clear example. Her kayak, paddling gear, camping gear, clothing, food and technology have been donated by 48 different companies from all across the US and around the world, which Deb has been told is a record for the number of sponsors for a kayak expedition.  
Along the way Deb is stopping to share the stories of the children at libraries, Rotary Clubs, churches, outfitters and outdoor clubs. People can follow Deb's expedition online: daily blog: position updated every 10 minutes as she paddles the coast:, facebook:, twitter: @kayakSP
Deb is asking people to make donations through her website  She is paying all of her own expedition expenses (about $50,000), so all donations go directly to Safe Passage and are tax deductible. The goal is $150,000 to convert 3rd and 4th grade from an after school to a full time school.



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