In the past six months, we’ve added 13 kids to our family-style homes! Thus far, that is our biggest influx of kids in that amount of time. With more kids come more heartrending stories.
All of our kids come with scars. They all come with emotional scarring, and some also bear the scars and burns of physical abuse. All of our kids have suffered from neglect, whether from parents not caring for them or abandoning them, or previous foster parents who barely took care of them. They’ve all known what it means to be either uncared for or unwanted.
We have one little one that was dropped off at a neighbor’s house while the mom went to run errands. Mom never came back.
We have a family of kids that wandered the streets with their mom. Their two older siblings vanished and no one knows where they are.
At least two of our kids’ biological mothers live as prostitutes. These kids tell the most horrible stories – kids being taught to steal as preschoolers, kids being left alone for days with no food, kids being abused by the mother’s customers, and kids watching their older sisters be sold, knowing their turn would come.
When we drive these kids home to live with us, they are normally traumatized and malnourished and full of intestinal parasites and lice. They do a lot of sitting and staring the first few weeks, but slowly, slowly, they start to blossom. As they get healthier physically and realize that they are in a safe and loving place, they start to come alive and be children again.
As horrible as their stories are, and as much as they’re still imprinted in our kids, those stories don’t define our kids anymore. Visitors come and ask us, “So, which ones are the orphans?” Why can’t they tell? Because our kids aren’t orphans anymore. They are part of a loving family now, with lots of brothers and sisters and cousins, some biological, some not.
The secret to helping kids get healthy again is by putting them in real families, who love them and treat them like their own. They need to attach to their caregivers and know that those same people will be there for them day in and day out. I cannot even express my joy at seeing one of our house-moms get all “mama-bear” about defending one of her kids, or one of our house-dads showing tender affection to one of his kids. Our kids are not orphaned or abandoned anymore. We are changing their stories.
We keep seeing a new movement that says, “Send all the kids home to their families! Children's homes are bad!” Our response: Don’t put everyone in the same basket. Each country, each children’s home, and each family and individual child has their own story.
Listen to our stories.
It's been such a fun season here at Give Hope 2 Kids!
We started out before Christmas with a big gift for all the kids to share: a big trampoline! We set it up at night and the kids were surprised to find it outside their homes in the morning. This trampoline is busy nearly all the time.
Then we crammed all 47 of us into our bus and went on a 15-hour Christmas excursion day! We started at our favorite thrift store and each kid got to pick out several things for themselves. Since our kids normally don't get to choose many of their own clothes or shoes, this was a BIG DEAL.
Next we took a picnic lunch of Honduras' favorite food -- fried chicken -- and went to a little zoo and park. The kids loved playing and seeing all our local animals there.
Then we visited La Ceiba's big pier to take in the sites and enjoy another playground, dinner, and icecream. We all got a little soaked in an unexpected downpour, climbed back into our bus, and drove the 1 1/2 bumpy hours home into the mountains. It was an exhausting day, but oh so much fun!
For Christmas the ladies of our property made nearly 300 tamales and the kids baked Christmas cookies. We then enjoyed a HUGE dinner with the tamales, bbq pork chops, fried rice and more. (It's amazing how much food some of our kids can put away!) Then the kids got a present of socks and underwear and a couple small fun things. It was such a joy watching our new kids open their gifts -- it definitely seemed like a first for them and their eyes lit up with each little item.
For New Year's Eve we brought pizzas from town, roasted marshmallows over a bonfire, and enjoyed some fireworks.
We've packed so much fun into the last few weeks! But even after all the holiday fun fades into memories, these kids still have a wonderful gift that goes on: they were abandoned or abused, and now they have a stable and loving family . We will be a family for these kids for as long as they need us.
Thanks to Joel Haler and Brian Hughes and their friends and family for helping to make this a wonderful Christmas for our kids! We've enjoyed sharing these special weeks with you.
Imagine with me for a minute: You're an 11-year-old girl, your parents are suddenly gone, and you're left to care for your younger siblings with zero resources. Your younger sisters are ages 9, 7, twins 4, 3, and a baby. Are you feeling panicked yet? These are the shoes that big-sister Katherin was filling for over a month, alone.
They are not alone now. These 7 girls arrived here at GiveHope2Kids one week ago. They came with only the clothes on their backs. All were malnourished and two had bronchitis. They were listless and obviously insecure.
It's just one week later, but already you can see a change in these girls. They're more alert, more active, and they smile. It's amazing how one week of good care can make such a difference.
But one week of care isn't our goal. We're in this for the long-haul. If we can reunite a child with family, that is obviously our ideal, but for most of our kids that's just not possible. For as long as a child is here, we are raising them in the best family-environment that we can. We will educate them and prepare them to support themselves as independent adults, and not let them go until they're ready to fly. We want to be their forever-family.
Seven sisters are now living with Grandma Gladys. We will be their home and family for as long as they need it.
Will you help us do this? We were already needing sponsors and adding in 7 more kids makes our need for sponsors that much more urgent! Be a blessing to these kids. Help us a make a difference in their lives!
This year has been a year of adding finishing touches to our myriad of building projects from the past 8 years. Too often when we urgently need to get to the next project, we've rushed past the finishing touches our spaces need. So this year we've painted walls that have never seen a coat of paint before, trimmed windows, and added on a much needed storage shed. We've finished off our community areas better too, which makes things run smoother for our Friday Night Youth Group. Currently we're finishing a road for better access to our agricultural projects and we're expanding and improving housing for our pigs.
An exciting addition here is that we recently traded out vehicles to purchase two 2001 Landcruisers. We're ecstatic after eyeing these for nearly a decade! These are the ultimate vehicles for us. They should last us 15+ years of daily use up and down our horrible road, which really says something. They can comfortably seat 10 people out of the daily rain showers, and with kids on laps, we've squeezed 14 people in just fine. These trucks have been such a blessing already! (So thanks to everyone who has donated towards vehicles in the last several years!)
Another big win for GiveHope2Kids recently, is that we were able to purchase another smaller property in our village. We are using this land for cattle grazing and other agricultural projects. And it's only a 10 min walk from home, which makes it quite convenient. Our cattle herd is really starting to multiply, and we're up to 30 head, so this purchasing opportunity was perfect timing for us.
Our top new investment though is in people: We recently welcomed in a new house-parent to our team, Grandma Gladys. We're also caring for three new siblings, Kathia, Dilmer, and Briana. Giving a stable home to these kids is why we push through all the other projects. This is the heart of GiveHope2Kids.
As I share photos from this month's fun parties, let me tell you part of our story:
A decade ago, when we (Jason & Sarah Furrow) moved to Honduras, we spent time visiting Children’s Homes and learning from their leaders. Everybody told us to start slow and to create our culture. Once we had a good culture going, they said, new kids would shape themselves into our mold, instead of causing chaos. From our vantage point then, this seemed like such an undefined, daunting task. We prayed that God would give us wisdom and guidance.
Fast forward to now: When we get the whole group of kids together, the atmosphere is incredible. Every single time I end up reflecting on how much these kids have grown and changed through the years.
They came through our gates as orphans: insecure, unloved, unhealthy, and either too quiet or too noisy. Now they know they are part of a family – and it shows. Most of our kids have been with us for 4½ years!
This is home. This is family. This is our culture.
In May we hosted our first summer group, combining students from North Central University and the Nossers (family of our volunteer Josiah). We had a blast with this team and accomplished a lot! They worked on various painting projects, filled in dirt around our well, updated our chicken coop, and did special projects and classes with all the kids. For some, the trip highlight was a massive water balloon fight with the kids!
Next up in June, our second group of the year came from Destiny Church in Alabama. One of their main projects while here was helping with a house addition for a growing missionary family down the road. Since this group tends to excel at painting, we saved them various painting projects: the Furrow’s front porch, a volunteer apartment, and a (beautiful) mural in the Library. They also added wooden trim around the windows in many of our homes, among other projects. We really enjoyed this team! We were blessed by their work and meaningful friendships.
For July we hosted a group from Cloverhill Church in Virginia. This was their leader Rachel’s 7th annual trip here! They helped dig the foundation for a new car port, extended our fence along the road, organized our office and school supplies, and visited local schools with donations of medical and school supplies and food staples for school lunches. One highlight from this week was taking all the kids to the river near Rio Viejo, where they swam, collected special rocks, and found several freshwater prawns. This group was very productive and fun to host!
Thank you for everyone who came or helped to make these trips possible! We always get such a boost in our construction projects through groups and we really enjoy the friendships we’ve built with these special people throughout the years.
A Day in the Sun
After our crazy storm, we decided it was the perfect time to take our kids on a fun outing. For this trip we went to El Porvenir, a beautiful beach town just outside La Ceiba.
We were excited and ready to go early in the morning! Even our guys were excited!
The day was spent with laughs, races, and fun discoveries! And what would any GH2K fun-day be without a game of soccer?
Saturday also happened to be Grisel's birthday, so we celebrated with cake! It was delicious-- just ask Grisel! (It's tradition in Honduras to try and get cake on the birthday girl or boy's face.)
We had such a wonderful day!
We recently survived one of the biggest storms of the decade here at GiveHope2Kids. The river rose to crazy heights and washed out all three of our water systems, as well as the power lines and internet cables. We're happy to share that everyone-- including our livestock-- is unharmed!
On the right is the flooded river and on the left is the river after it returned to normal.
Our awesome team of guys were able to repair one of the water lines so we had enough water for the basics, like washing dishes and flushing toilets. For drinking water we used rainwater and our Berkey filters. Amazingly enough, our power was repaired in only 1 1/2 days.
While several houses flooded in Urraco, we believe that no one was seriously injured. The road however was another story! It was badly damaged between here and La Ceiba. The road at Rio Viejo (where our kids attend Instituto El Rey) was washed away, and the kids were out of school for a whole week! (They weren't too concerned however and enjoyed basketball in the cancha and watching movies.)
What was truly incredible though, was what happened to one of the village buses when it tried to ford a place where a little water normally flows over the road. It's back wheels were washed right off the road! Luckily, no one was harmed.
We are so grateful that everyone is safe and that we had enough food and water to make it through the week!
Thanks to our awesome volunteer David Lehn for documenting the adventures of that week!
We're now celebrating 10 years of ministry in Honduras!
We want to thank all of you who have joined with our mission throughout the years. Thank you for encouraging us to continue in what God has called us to. Since our start, 31 young people have called GiveHope2Kids their home. Several of these children were reintegrated into their families or adopted, but for the time that they needed us, we were there for them. Right now we're a home for 15 amazing kids and we're excited to help them grow to adulthood here in the GH2K family.
To celebrate our 10 years of ministry, we've put together a magazine, thanking God for our past successes and looking to the future. If you'd like to see the magazine online, you can scroll through the document below. To download the full resolution document, you can click on the link at the bottom.
Thanks for being a part of our lives and our story!
School is in session here at GiveHope2Kids. For the 2016 year, our 14 elementary students will attend homeschool every day here on the property. They start at 7:00am every morning by singing the Honduran anthem and then off to classes they go! In the mornings they're studying their main subjects and then after lunch, they have electives.
The kids' favorite new class is called "Oficios," which is kind of like shop class. It's really the kick-off of our Trade School dreams. Twice a week our kids get to work on a new skill, which we hope will help them to develop into independent adults. The kids have responded so well and are constantly asking: “Clase de oficios hoy?” That means: “Trade School class today?” (If you would like to come and teach in our Trade School, please do! You can learn more about coming down for a short-term trip here.)
We really feel that our teachers are going to do such a great job this year. Both of our house-moms are helping to teach, along with two of our university scholarship students, Katy and Doris, and our volunteers David, Amy, and Josiah. Our teachers are so excited to have a brand new curriculum to teach from. (Thank you to those who donated to make this happen!) Ms. Sharon, our long term mentor from our IER days, has been helping us prepare for what will be our best year yet. We are so excited to see how our kids continue to learn and grow.
We now have 7 students going to Instituto El Rey every morning. We were very excited to have 3 new 7th graders starting there from GH2K. We’re so proud of all these kids and we believe that they have an incredible year of learning ahead of them!