Which is more dangerous: pollution or fireworks?

By Philip Long   |  24 January 2014
Belarmino (main image)
Photos by Jessica Gardner.
Belarmino (sidebar image)

Steve Watson, with the Global Aid Network, steps into a tin-roofed home and looks around. He locates peril in the form of fireworks stacked high.

Steve is in a small village nestled in the mountains around Guatemala City, Guatemala. In this village, like many people in poor rural villages Guatemala, locals supplement their farming income by making fireworks, which is dangerous work.

One villager was blown out of the doorway of her house when the black powder ignited. She broke her arm and was severely burned from the neck down, rendering her unable to work.

As Steve stands in the home of Belarmino and his family, he learns that Belarmino’s day is full of hard labor. Belarmino hauls a 110-pound water container up from a polluted river 2 miles below his house. He does this up to 3 times a day.

His family spends the rest of the day making fireworks and hauling wood. This exhausting work earns him less than 2 dollars a day.

By partnering with local ministries, GAiN weds the Great Commandment “to love your neighbor” with the Great Commission “to go into all the world…”

Workers with GAiN are not only interested in immediate relief, but in finding sustainable safe income and training villagers in water sanitation systems.

While GAiN was there, they trained Belarmino, his family and the village to purify the polluted water he collects. They also encouraging villagers to weave baskets, make candles and other crafts to replace the dangerous firework production.

GAiN is partnering to help start a house church that Belarmino leads in his home. One worker says, “We want them to gain the dignity that comes with not only being able to care for the health of their family, but the joy that comes when they live a life dedicated to Christ.”

Watch Belarmino’s story.