Kayaker paddles for Guatemala’s neglected children

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This ‘Baby in a Box’ photo demonstrates the dire plight of youngsters in Guatemala, who must fend for themselves in a huge garbage dump.

This ‘Baby in a Box’ photo demonstrates the dire plight of youngsters in Guatemala, who must fend for themselves in a huge garbage dump.

By Claire Hofman | Special to the County Compass

ORIENTAL — Dr. Deb Walter will make a stop Saturday afternoon in Oriental as she continues her solo paddle from Maine to Guatemala in an effort to raise money to build a school for children of the Guatemala City Garbage Dump Community.

The stop in Oriental has tentatively been set for a sandy beach, off Neuse Street, on the shoreline of the Neuse River. The public is welcome to greet her.

Deb’s year-long adventure started in July. Deb has been kayaking close to the Atlantic shoreline shore from Yarmouth, Maine to mid New Jersey. From there, she started paddling the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida.


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To avoid the chance of armed attacks on small crafts near Mexico, she and her kayak will board a sailing vessel and continue to Belize. Finally, she will continue her paddling along the coast to Rio Dulce in Guatemala.

Deb Walter’s kayak bears emblems and trademarks from various sponsors.

Deb Walter’s kayak bears emblems and trademarks from various sponsors.

Deb is a grandmother, retired scientist, and university leader. She has completed many extended kayaking journeys including an expedition to the Arctic. Nine years ago she visited Guatemala where she visited the garbage dump.

“I smelled the methane and rotten garbage…I listened to the mothers talk about their wish that their children could go to school, learn to read, and have a better future. That simple dream broke my heart. I knew I had to help.”

From then she started working with Safe Passage.

“I want to help by combining my passion for the children and families of the garbage dump with my unusual passion for long distance kayaking.”

As she travels, Deb speaks to large events in cities along the route. In small towns she gives presentations to schools and other groups. She also uses a daily blog and other social media to post her daily adventures and progress.

To follow her progress, visit www. kayakforsafepassagekidsblogspot.com

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