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