Posted July 01, 2009
While a student, Liz Mengesha traveled to Safe Passage in Guatemala City, Guatemala, for an Alternative Spring Break trip. She says that she was inspired by Hanley Denning '92 and touched by the connections she made with Safe Passage's children, and the experience led her to volunteer full-time with the organization for ten months after graduating from Bowdoin. She served as a first-grade classroom teacher's assistant and a service team guide for short-term volunteer groups.
Liz says that she recognizes that empowering children with education and skills to leave the dump is a long-term project—not one that can be accomplished through her ten months of volunteer work alone. She hopes that she influenced at least a handful of children by giving them a stronger sense of confidence in their abilities. She hopes to continue to raise awareness about Sage Passage, help with fundraising, and lead another service group to the project.
Liz has brought her commitment to service back to Bowdoin by working to plan and lead Bowdoin's new alumni service trip program as part of her role in the alumni office. In the fall of 2008 she organized the first-ever such alumni service trip to Louisiana where 8 number of alums spent a week rebuilding homes devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The following spring, she led alums ranging from the class of 1976 to 2007 back on an alumni service to Safe Passage where participants spent a week working with children living in the Guatemala City Dump, remembering and being inspired by Hanley's vision and commitment to the common good.
“I was so inspired by Hanley Denning’s work and touched by the connections I made with the children, I knew I would be returning there after graduation.”