Potter’s House is dedicated to serving and providing opportunities for the more than 10,000 families living in the Guatemala City garbage dump community.


The people in the Guatemala City dump community spend long days scavenging through the tons of garbage that are brought there each day. They search for anything of value – things they can sell, wear, or somehow use in their daily lives, and even scraps of food, since virtually all are malnourished and hungry. For the “best trash,” they compete with each other, dogs and vultures. Methane fumes, sharp objects, and medical waste, including used syringes, are some of the perils they contend with. Overpowering stench, disease, danger, and hopelessness pervade the entire neighborhood.

The families served by Potter’s House’s microenterprise program live in squatter areas or in the very poor neighborhoods surrounding the dump, and struggle to make a living in a small, informal business. Because their businesses have no access to capital and cannot grow, many are forced to scavenge in the dump to make a living for themselves and their families. In their desperation, many of these families have found love and hope in the Potter’s House Association, an organization dedicated to serve and provide opportunities for the scavengers, whom they call “Treasures.”

Program Description and Potter’s House work together to enable the families surrounding the dump to leave scavenging and generate a stable, livable income from their own micro-businesses. Clients have a vocational skill, integrity, a work ethic, and a viable plan for how their micro-businesses will succeed. From the program, they receive training, small loans and ongoing encouragement to establish their businesses and promote success. Loan amounts average about $200, and are managed using a lending group methodology. Follow-on loans are based on satisfactory repayment of the first loan.

Quick Facts

Country’s Population:
14,918,999 (July 2015)
Population Below the Poverty Line:
54% (2011 est.)
Local Partner:
Potter’s House Association (PHA)
Guatemala City
Business training and micro-loans to the very poor living in and around the Guatemala City garbage dump