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.
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!
Dia del Nino
Dia del Niño, or Kid's Day, is probably every kid's second favorite day of the year (after Christmas). For this fun-filled Kid's Day, all the kids in the village met at the elementary school for a morning of games, fun, food, and—of course—candy. But the highlight of the morning for all the kids, was getting a turn to hit the piñata. And we didn't just have one, but three whole piñatas! There were so many laughs and so much sugar.
Dia de Independencia
September 15th is Honduras' Independence Day. All the school kids get a chance to march in a parade through their town. This year our kids participated in many special roles in the parade: Miss Independence, the Beautiful Indians, traditional dancers, and cadets. Our awesome house-moms worked hard putting together all their special outfits, and our volunteer Daniel, made ceremonial wooden machetes and rifles for the march. They looked incredible! The march started up at the Urraco school, and the kids paraded the length of the village and back again, with a crowd of family following behind.
For more than a year now, we've felt led to branch out and add a new facet to our ministry. We're starting a Trade School!
We see the difference that education can make in the lives of young people, through our years of working with Instituto El Rey, village elementary schools, and our After School Program . But we've also seen that the majority of young people never make it either to 6th grade or beyond in school. We feel like we need to take a dramatic step of faith to give local young people more options for post primary education. The most practical step for us to take is to offer classes in specific trades.
Many of you may remember that in February, we sent out a Facebook message asking for help to purchase a bus. We were successful in finding the perfect bus for our ministry.
We have now used this vehicle for several months, and it has revolutionized our ability to transport kids. We safely bring young people to youth group, move our groups that come to volunteer, and we get to take our kids from the Children's Home on excursions.
We've been making some improvements to it, and we expect it to live a long life with us. We want to say another huge thank you to all that were a part of the fundraising campaign to purchase it. We believe that it will be a huge blessing to the ministry for many years to come.
Many of you have heard the story of Ruby and her sisters. These girls have made it through incredibly tough times and are thriving. We are so proud of them. We now have the privilege of having Grisel, the second to youngest sister, staying with us at GiveHope2Kids. We are excited to see Grisel as she grows into a young woman. She is doing well with her studies and is surrounded by people who love her and want to see her thrive.
This past Saturday, we celebrated her 15th birthday, which is a huge affair here in Honduras. Rain threatened to interrupt the festivities, but it turned out to be a great party with more than 50 people attending.
To learn more about this Latin American tradition of quinceaneras, click here.
I thought that we should retrace our steps a bit and recap the last several months. Per usual, it's been a very full and wonderful season.
In September, we had an awesome group that visited us from Emmanuel Christian Center in Minnesota. They worked really hard, but knew how to play hard too. They built an aqauponics system (to grow fish and vegetables together), helped us finish our community kitchen, and brought some fun crafts to do with the kids. We really enjoyed our time with these guys!
The holidays were a special time here. We utilized our fantastic new kitchen facilities to make the traditional Christmas fare: tamales. It was an incredible feast! And of course, the kids were pretty excited about their presents too. (Thanks to all the sponsors who sent a little something extra for their kids!)
Thanks to our donors, our Christmas Gift Catalog was a success! With the gifts given we're now purchasing 4 more dairy cows and we're able to continue teaching English and computers for our village school. Others helped us towards the purchase of our solar project and our bus.
So far this year we've prepared to homeschool our kids on-site (that's for another post) and we've installed our solar electric system. We just received the final components for the solar project and as soon as they're installed, we'll be ready to flip the on-switch. This is such a HUGE step for our long-term sustainability!
Since we started GiveHope2Kids, we have had some great volunteers walk these paths, teach classes, play with kids, and just in general get the job done. We always hope and pray that the time they spend here leaves an imprint on their worldview and changes their lives for the better. The hard part with volunteers is saying good-bye, parting ways, and not knowing when our paths will cross again.
We've just had to say good-bye again. In the month of August, we had two volunteer families head off to the next adventure. But even in seeing them leave, we are excited for their futures and what God will do through them. They are headed out with the long-term goal of launching more homes for orphaned and abandoned children!
It is humbling and exciting to see God use our imperfect selves to help plant other Children's Homes. Both of these families saw GiveHope2Kids as their training ground, so we can pass on the model of a family-style and community-focused Children's Home.
To the Johnsons and the Bakers, we want to say thank you for the time you served here. We want you to know that we are praying God's fullest blessings upon you as follow his path for your lives.
Kelvin & Monica Johnson served with us for 2 1/2 years and you can now find them in Ecuador.
Jacob & Cynthia Baker volunteered here for just over a year. Their family will soon be headed to India.
People often ask us why there are so many orphaned and abandoned kids in Honduras, so I'm writing a series of articles to answer that question. I write this from our 8 years of experience in working with students, abandoned kids, the Honduran social services, and many other non-profit organizations in Honduras. While we will keep our kid's histories private, these are the types of stories they could tell. -- Sarah Furrow
We live in the country of Honduras, where girls can be stolen.
In Spanish they use the verb robar, to rob or steal. Where we live, people use this word to describe a few different relational contexts.
1) Getting Married – If young people don’t have money for a wedding (meaning that they can’t afford to feed the whole village a nice meal), then they might choose to get “married” unofficially. This is how most of the previous generation got married. They would generally have their parent’s consent. The guy would come get the girl in the night sometime and then they’d be considered married.
2) Eloping – Sometimes without parental consent a girl will be stolen in the night. The girl is choosing to run away and live with a guy. Maybe it’s a secret relationship with the boy down the street. Or, maybe it’s a married guy in his 50s (or older) that’s promised a better life to a girl (we’ve seen as young as 11).
3) Kidnapping – And then there’s kidnapping. Men do it as revenge between feuding families or because they think (know) they can live beyond the law. Thankfully this isn’t commonplace anymore, but it does still happen.
The first two methods of “marriage” are the norm here and often just what’s expected. Girls often don’t see any other choice for their lives, so they settle for these (usually) short-term relationships. Some of these “marriages” work, but generally it seems that they’re over in a few months or a couple years.
The girls are normally left with a kid or two and no way to support themselves, since they probably never finished their education and live in a country with an unemployment rate of about 30%. They often move home with their parents until they find a new relationship. And often the new relationship isn’t interested in the kids from the last one, thus more “orphans.” There’s not much hope in this system.
So, how are we offering hope? We’re helping to educate kids from our community and teaching them skills like English and computers so they’re more employable. We’re encouraging kids to stay in school (and not get “married” so young), and giving some young people work so they can pay for their school fees. In our Friday Youth Group, we’re teaching about good marriages and how to break out of negative family cycles. And we’re providing a solid family and home for some of these orphaned and abandoned kids in our Children’s Home. We hope and pray that God will use our efforts to help change a generation!
Part 1: Teenage Moms