Urraco Campus Updates
Our Urraco Campus is thriving! We have a 5 full and happy families here, raising 40 kids.
We recently went on a river day adventure. Our families piled on our new-to-us, much larger bus and went for a day of fun activities by a beautiful river spot. It was a much-needed time away from the campus to play, splash, joke and eat together away from daily responsibilities.
Our on-site elementary schooling and learning programs are going really well. We're putting a lot of energy and organization into our English program for 1st through 6th grade (thank you volunteers Haakan & Noel!). We feel strongly that being fluent in English will enable our children to be leaders in whatever field they decide on. The kids are rising to the challenge and learning a ton of English. Just the other week when we offered a voluntary English class for our teenagers, we had a turn-out of 20!
Our children’s education is in good hands, especially with educator Chris Struna in the role of our Education Director. He has a rich history with education and especially education here in Honduras. And thanks to Mike & Tiffany Nosser working with our preschool student’s education, we now have our children covered from age 3 all the way through their university education!
There are several other exciting things happenings with Give Hope 2 Kids:
And for other recent highlights, four of our 6th graders graduated from our on-campus home school and they are off to study at Instituto El Rey. At the same time two of our young people graduated high school at Instituto El Rey. We enjoyed celebrating the accomplishment of our students.
Our families enjoy celebrating in general! They make a big deal of each child's birthday. Lastly, there have been a number of parent get togethers (initiated by the parents) where all of the parents come together to laugh, eat and have fun! During this crazy time of Covid which takes away other social opportunities, our extended Give Hope 2 Kids family has stepped up the social game to make sure everyone is able to build relationships the way God has intended. It's a blessing to be a part of community that works together and plays together.
We are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work with these wonderful children and the hardworking adults who do so much to make their lives meaningful, safe, fun, fulfilling, and purposeful!
Life Under the Lockdown
Here are updates from some of our team from the Roma and Urraco campuses. Please read our other post to find out how you can help.
Jason and Sarah Furrow
A Message from Roma Campus
From Earl and Sharon Washburn
The building of a stove and oven on Roma campus.
The situation here is ever-changing. Currently La Ceiba is totally shut down at 5 p.m. No gas, food stores, banks, pharmacies are open after 5. Only two people can be in the car --with their masks and gloves on. All need to be in La Ceiba or at least past the checkpoints before 5 pm. If anyone violates the curfew rules the car will be taken for the period of the curfew and the person gets to spend the night in jail. Earl and I can drive out on Wednesdays only. We have not ventured out except to buy milk from a farm.
Our greatest concern is for people who will have no way of getting food. The longer this "lockdown" goes on, the more serious it will be for the poor of Honduras. Dr. Melvin, who brings us food every two weeks, recently sent us a message that the people of El Naranjo had blocked the road with logs and burning tires, demanding food from the government. Melvin had programmed this the day to bring us food. He faithfully waited 2 hours on the road until the soldiers came and ended the protest, then drove out to us.
We depend on Dr. Melvin for food, which is becoming more difficult even though he is a doctor and can go everywhere. He buys what he can for us and brings it to us 30 minutes outside La Ceiba. He has to pass through 3 checkpoints to verify who he is.
The most stressful thing for me is deciding how to ration food. Otherwise, things are good. To save on gas we are building an outdoor stove and oven. It takes a lot of gas to make tortillas. We are digging vegetable beds around the house to grow eggplants, cilantro and red bell peppers. We will also grow papayas and bananas. The kids are going up the mountain looking for food, challenging the monkeys’ food territory (the monkeys throw sticks at the kids).
Neider, Karen and Sarai, the three who live with us during this time, have much homework to do for the school they attend, so they are keeping busy. This is their last year of high school. We are praying the Ministry of Education will let students graduate. Our other activities are puzzles, chess and reading.
God bless you and keep you in His care. Thank you for praying for us.
~ Earl and Sharon
A Message from Urraco Campus
From Travis and Brandi Long
The kids showing off their lovely Easter egg drawings.
The pandemic has hit here just like everywhere else, and the government acted quickly to limit travel in March. Soon after, the total lockdowns started in the big cities and eventually became nationwide. Since the 17th of March, we have only traveled down the mountain twice, both trips for essential groceries.
We are thankful that the government has allowed the local pulperias (small, family-run shops in the villages) to remain open—they have helped us when we were running low on food and could not get to the city. We aren’t able to buy construction materials either.
In April the government came up with a system where you are allowed to travel on a certain day, based on your ID number. I was thankful that we did not have any issues while traveling in the city, but we had to wear masks/gloves the whole time. Because of the limited window everyone had, the lines for grocery stores and banks were extremely long.
The biggest adjustment here in Urraco is probably that the schools have been closed for almost a month now. Our IER students (7th-12th grades) have continued receiving their assignments online, and we thankfully have had a decent connection to the internet. Because the government closed the elementary and middle schools, and we operate under the Urraco public school, we have not had classes for our younger kids.
Brandi is planning to hold some "review days" for her English and elementary classes to make sure they retain what they learned before classes stopped. All in all, the kids and the workers who live on the property have stayed in good spirits. They have all adjusted to our new normal fairly well.
Both trips to the city we have looked to stock up on cleaning supplies but none of the stores are selling things like disinfectant wipes or hand-sanitizer. We have had to be careful with what we use, but God has provided everything we need and we still have extra supplies in storage.
Thankfully our team here has not panicked or become fearful. We have been washing our hands and practicing good hygiene, and we're thankful we are not in a concentrated area where the virus has spread. We are thankful for everyone's attitude, and it is great to see their faith in God calm any fear!
~Travis and Brandi
Ministry Update: COVID-19
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a challenging time for all of us, physically, mentally and spiritually. I hope and pray that you and your family are safe and healthy. I also want to keep you informed about how this crisis is affecting the families, kids and staff of Give Hope 2 Kids, and let you know how you can help.
Sarah, the kids and I had planned our trip to visit our family and church communities before the virus started to spread. Our family had just reached the U.S. in March when the virus hit hard. Honduras suddenly closed their borders, keeping us from returning home, and our trip around to visit so many of you was also put on hold. We are staying with family in Minnesota for the time being, working from home just like most of you.
Meanwhile, our teams on the Urraco and Roma Campuses are doing well, but certainly feeling the effects of the Covid-19 crises. Honduras is under lock-down. Since their medical system cannot handle the stress of a major outbreak, the military is strictly limiting travel and activity. But even in the midst of this worldwide pandemic, we always have hope because the Lord is with us. This is our prayer for you:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
Please check out these updates from team members on each campus.
Jason and Sarah Furrow
How You Can Help:
It happens everywhere around the world, in every family. One day you're chasing a toddler and then you blink, and the years have flown by, and suddenly you have a teenager. Or in our case, 13 teenagers.
When we look around here at GiveHope2Kids, we're always surprised by another voice that's deepened, another young person headed off for their high school internship. We always throw the traditional big party, a quinceniera, to celebrate when a girl here turns 15. We just celebrated Katherin, and flipping ahead in our calendar we see that next fall we'll celebrate as 4 more of our girls become young ladies. Time sure does fly!
So what is life like for the young people of GiveHope2Kids? Our number one priority is always family, so our teens are still an integral part of the families here -- the big helpers. Most of our teens have been here for several years, so they see their house-parents as mom and dad and they love the younger kids as their siblings. After family, an education comes next on our list. Our teens are studying in school, learning through classes we're teaching (jewelry making, sewing, and chess as examples), taking music lessons, and participating in our Friday night Hope & Healing Ministry, from acting in skits, to singing on the worship team.
We are proud of the young people they are becoming. From rambunctious preschoolers, to thriving teens, we've been through a lot with these kids. It's a beautiful thing to watch as the love of God and family shape these lives and propel them towards a success.
We're so excited that our Transition Home is now up and running. This is thanks to Earl & Sharon Washburn, our long time mentors, stepping in as the parents there. We feel it a privilege that we can offer this home to several young people who are studying, including our first high school graduate. Grisel now has a chance to stretch her wings, and take flight at university, while still having family to come home to at night.
The Legacy of Family
We are giving the kids we care for a legacy, the legacy of family. This gift comes in two parts: having a family that claims and includes them, and experiencing the everyday workings of a healthy family unit.
When one of our kids first walks through the door, they’re shell-shocked. They bring a grocery sack with a few changes of clothes, but they’re usually wearing the one pair of underwear they own. They’re shell-shocked because someone probably lied to them about where they’re going and for how long – and our hour and a half, bumpy ride into “nowhere” is so unlike the crowded, gang-infested neighborhoods that most come from. Our new kids are also in shock because they can’t conceive the thought of living in a safe place.
Most of our kids have never known a reliable father – for some a father represented absence, or a vague unknown, or abuse. Some of our kids lived under the shadow of prostitution – whether it was their family’s income or their probable future. Some wandered the streets, looking for food. Older siblings were trying to parent younger siblings, often without any food or money to be had. Their stories are of hunger, neglect, abuse, and abandonment.
They are our heartbeat because we believe that, by God’s grace, we can pass on the legacy of family to these young people. They have been absorbed into a thriving family-life with us – yes, messy, yes human – but a family that sticks with them and with each other. It gives them a place to come home to, a model for marriage and child-rearing, a place of safety, a place to belong. Here is where we can change a generation: instead of repeating the same cycles of disfunction and abuse, these young people have a chance to break the mold and model success. This is our prayer. This is our goal.
Roma: Our New Campus is in the Works
This year has been a big year for getting things rolling on our 2nd campus of GiveHope2Kids.
At our new Roma Campus we initially bought 20 acres. Then we went through a period of dreaming, seeing big things for the future: Could we expand into a hospitality trade school? A counseling center? Along with what other possibilities? While we're not sure exactly how God will have us walk through these new doors, we realized that more land was the right idea. So now we own just over 50 acres. We're currently developing our infrastructure (think power, water, and roads), planting fruit orchards, and constructing homes for kids. We're also remodeling a house for the Furrow Family that will also help us host groups for the next couple of years.
Along with the two staff families already living at the Roma Campus, this winter we'll be revving up our Transition Home to house our university students and their house-parents. Actually, it's important to insert a note here: We are so very thrilled to have Earl & Sharon Washburn joining our team as house-parents to our young adults! The Washburns launched and administrated the high school Instituto El Rey for many years and have long been our mentors.
Thanks to everyone who gave towards this land or it's homes, or who came and served here in 2018! We are grateful and so excited to watch things progress. It's amazing to look around here and glimpse a future of laughing, playing children, who are learning that they can belong to a family again.
The 30th of March this year our little Yanessa was diagnosed with Leukemia. She and her twin Larissa are 5-years-old, and part of the 7 sisters in our care.
In the beginning God gave us a verse for Yanessa, to help strengthen our faith. In John 11:4 Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." God is faithful and little Yanessa is a walking miracle.
Yanessa was hospitalized for 2 1/2 months in San Pedro Sula. It took a couple of weeks to get the official results, but Yanessa was diagnosed with an easier form of Leukemia and the doctors said that we caught it early enough, so that it would be treatable. Then starting in May we've made two trips a month, driving the 5 hours each way and staying over for her treatments at the Fundación Hondureña para el Niño con Cáncer. We are very grateful for the care they have given Yanessa. Yanessa still isn't fully recovered, but she has responded very well to every treatment and we consistently get good reports for her. She's moved from sad and listless, to sparkly and joyful, even in the midst of all the medical procedures and separation from her sisters.
We want to especially thank Areli (Ruby's 3rd sister) and Gladys from our team for caring for Yanessa. Both ladies have spent several weeks away from family, doing 24-hour-shifts in the hospital to care for her. They have been a huge blessing and have shown Yanessa a mother's love through all of this.
I also want to thank our faithful donors for helping us to cover the cost of Yanessa's treatment. While many of her medical bills are covered by the foundation mentioned above, GiveHope2Kids has spent several thousand dollars for her care during these months. This was possible thanks to your faithful support.
Here are a few pictures of Yanessa through the course of her treatment. Please pray for her continued recovery. Also, if anyone is interested in becoming more a part of Yanessa's life, she is still in need of sponsors.
As we begin work on a new campus, we wanted to communicate exactly what is our vision for this new ministry site. The short answer is that we'll copy most everything from our Urraco Campus and have more homes for kids, more educational opportunities, and more self-sustainability projects. We're basically doubling Give Hope 2 Kids.
And if you're sticking around for the long story....
This journey started with first recognizing a need we have: We need a place for our young adults to live while they study beyond high school. While our Urraco Campus is a wonderful place to raise kids, it is a very impractical place for university students to live. (It only takes 5 hours for a round-trip to the city on public transportation.)
In the fall of 2016, God used several different circumstances to start us walking towards expansion. Near the end of the year, we felt that it was time to act, time to pursue a location nearer to La Ceiba. We started asking around and quickly felt God directing us to pursue a property in Roma, which is 20 minutes east of La Ceiba. Through God's faithfulness and our incredible donors, we've now purchased this land. The 2nd campus is 20+ acres, next to the main road, and just a 3 minute walk from a bus stop.
Our young adults will now be able to access La Ceiba's universities and larger trade schools as they work toward independence. For all intents and purposes the transition home for these young adults will be the only significant difference between the 2 ministry campuses.
Nearly everything else will be a duplicate of the Urraco Campus. We will still live out all our essential values, like the most important: Our homes for children will be led by strong, Christian families. It is our intention to carry on the wonderful family culture we so enjoy.
We firmly believe that we will have an impact in the community of Roma, just as we've had in Urraco. We've already started building relationships with the teachers and students in the public school, while doing service projects there. As we develop relationships in the community we later hope to invite the young people to be a part of a youth group.
We will also initiate several agricultural projects to help support the ministry and make it as self-sustaining as possible. By focusing on the strengths of each location, we hope to gain even more ground in sustainability. For example, our Urraco Campus has the altitude for growing good coffee and we have more acreage there for meat production. The Roma Campus has a little drier of a climate, so we will be able to produce greater quantities of mangoes, papaya, and avocados there.
Well, thanks for hanging with us to hear the long version. What God is doing in and through the ministry of GH2K is so exciting and we welcome you along for the journey!
Daysi's 15th Birthday Party
Daysi and her 3 siblings have been with us now for 4 years. We've seen Daysi excel at her studies and become a fantastic young lady with an incredible future ahead of her. Right now she can't decide between being a veterinarian or joining the navy, but whatever she does, we believe that she will be hugely successful.
It was awesome to watch during the ceremony as Henry, her house-dad, danced the traditional waltz with her and gave a speech about how proud he is of her.
Daysi's life is a testament to the fact that hurting kids placed in a loving, Christian family can thrive. She is a great example to the other young ladies here and we are so proud of her!!!
With Ruby as Daysi's house-mom, much of Ruby's family joined us for Daysi's celebration. It was a personal highlight of ours to get a picture of Ruby and her 5 sisters all together.
Listen to Our Stories
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.