Safe Passage Volunteers | God's World News

Safe Passage Volunteers

  • 1 safepassage
    Volunteers escort children across an intersection in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, California. (AP/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
  • 2 safepassage
    Tatiana Alabsi passes a homeless encampment in the Tenderloin neighborhood before children walk to school. (AP/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
  • 3 safepassage
    Volunteers mark after school programs on a map of the Tenderloin neighborhood. (AP/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
  • 4 safepassage
    Hung Truong, background, walks children to after-school programs in San Francisco. (AP/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
  • 5 safepassage
    Tatiana Alabsi, center, talks to a group of people sitting on a sidewalk in the Tenderloin neighborhood. (AP/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
  • 6 safepassage
    Tatiana Alabsi, left, hugs her nephew, Adam Khalid, in the Tenderloin neighborhood. (AP/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
  • 1 safepassage
  • 2 safepassage
  • 3 safepassage
  • 4 safepassage
  • 5 safepassage
  • 6 safepassage


You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining.

The bad news: You've hit your limit of free articles.
The good news: You can receive full access below.
WORLDteen | Ages 11-14 | $35.88 per year

Already a member? Sign in.
  • Heads up, parents! This map is operated by Google, not God’s WORLD News.

“Happy Monday!” says Tatiana Alabsi to two men. One slumps in a wheelchair and wears hospital socks and a single slipper. Alabsi is part of a volunteer brigade that escorts children through broken bottles and stained sleeping bags in one of America’s worst neighborhoods: San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.

Known for illegal drugs, mental illness, and homelessness, the Tenderloin is also home to an estimated 3,000 children in 50 square blocks.

Amid the squalor and chaos is a vibrant community. Many Tenderloin residents seek to protect their children, who come largely from immigrant families.

“School time. Kids will be coming soon,” Alabsi politely reminds folks huddled on sidewalks, some handling drugs. She wears a bright safety vest with “Safe Passage” emblazoned on the back. She strides through the Tenderloin toward the public elementary school.

At one point, Alabsi touches the shoulder of a man curled on the sidewalk near a parked car.

“Are you OK?” she asks, then suggests he move out of the sun. “Kids will be coming soon.”

Minutes later, Alabsi arrives at Tenderloin Community Elementary School. Backpack-clad students form two rowdy lines and follow her through the streets.

A group of mothers started Safe Passage in 2008. Volunteers guide students along the cleanest and calmest routes after school. They redirect them to avoid people acting wildly. Sometimes, they use their bodies to shield children from seeing things they shouldn’t—like a woman between two cars, unable to control her bowels.

“We can change [the] world in [a] better way by our presence, by our examples, by our positive attitude,” Alabsi says. “Every year, it’s little bit better and better and better.”

Sadly, the world isn’t getting better. But the idea of leading by example—being salt, light, and love—is beautiful and biblical. (1 Timothy 4:12) That involves showing up and helping out, often in ways similar to Safe Passage.

Alabsi began volunteering a decade ago. She and her husband both emigrated from Yemen and joined family living in the Tenderloin.

Life wasn’t easy in their new homeland. They’d been medical doctors and had to start over. When her son started counting piles of human feces from his stroller, she despaired.

She signed up to volunteer at Safe Passage to help spare children the worst sights on their walks after school.

Alabsi says many people respond politely, tuck their drugs away, or scoot their belongings out of the way when she reminds them that school is out. Others ignore her. Some get angry.

Director Kate Robinson encourages neighbors to get involved. After all, she says, “We’re all in this together.”

Why? It’s tempting to react against those who seem different or distasteful. But God loves and wants to save sinners.

Test my knowledge