The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club recently welcomed Dr. Deb Walters, a past Rotary district governor for northern Maine and Quebec. Walters spoke to the club about kayaking from Maine to Guatemala in support of Safe Passage for Kids. Walters said she first visited Guatemala City 10 years ago where she learned about the Garbage Dump People -- families, children and the elderly who support themselves by salvaging anything they can from the city’s 40-acre dump to reuse or to recycle into other items to sell. At that time, she also learned about Safe Passage for Kids, a humanitarian organization that provides proper nutrition, healthcare and educational opportunities to the Garbage Dump People. Dr. Walters committed herself to working with the organization and now serves as a board member.

In June of 2014, she began a 2,500-mile kayak trip from Maine to Guatemala. Walters said her goal was to increase awareness about the plight of the Garbage Dump People and to raise $150,000 to provide much needed classroom space and educational materials for third and fourth graders enrolled in Safe Passage for Kids’ school. By January, she had reached Georgetown, S.C. completing some 1,500 miles of the trip in her 18-foot kayak. While there, she was diagnosed with a severely herniated cervical disk requiring immediate surgery. She had already raised 94 percent of her $150,000 goal.