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International Samaritan is an international nonprofit dedicated to raising the standard of living in communities built around, and reliant on, the world's garbage dumps. For 25 years, we have worked to change the lives of the most vulnerable people in the world through a unique blend of hands-on service and advocacy work.
International Samaritan was founded in 1994 by Father Don Vettese, S.J. On a school trip to Guatemala, Father Vettese’s group was diverted from their route due to traffic and drove through the community around the garbage dump instead. Father Vettese was horrified by what he saw and pledged to do something about it. That chance encounter led to the creation of International Samaritan.
All these years later, International Samaritan has grown beyond Guatemala, and our mission is carried out by people across many nations and faiths. International Samaritan currently has offices in Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Ethiopia, and gained consultative status with the United Nations in 2011. Our United States office is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We follow Christ by walking and working with all people, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual preference.
International Samaritan’s mission is to work hand in hand with people living in garbage dump communities to help them break out of poverty.
A time when the garbage dumps of developing countries are no longer homes to human beings struggling to survive.
Our name comes from the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, in which Jesus describes how we should love our neighbor. As a Christ-centered organization, we are built on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, which are described on the website of the US Council of Catholic Bishops as: Life and Dignity of the Human Person; Call to Family, Community, and Participation; Rights and Responsibilities to Maintaining Society; Options for the Poor and Vulnerable; Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers; Solidarity; and Care for God's Creation.