Henry is one of our graduates from 2016. He received highest honours in high school and is literally a genius.
Recently, there was an article in one of the national newspapers in Honduras, with this title: “Violence in Honduras has left more than 22,000 children orphaned.” As a global worker whose ministry focuses mainly on children, you can imagine why this caught my attention.
Living and working in Honduras, I see the impact of violence on the lives of the children we work with, and on their families. Many children live with one parent or with grandparents because they have lost their father or mother to violence, death or abandonment. It is hard for me to fully understand, considering how and where I grew up. Sadly, it is normal here. In the midst of poverty, political tension and violence, these innocent children become invisible in the eyes of society. When left alone, they leave school, their home, and often make the streets their home.
I recently went to film some interviews with a few of our sponsored children. I wanted to hear from them why sponsorship matters and how it impacts their lives. Several of the interviews with our students opened my eyes to what life is really like for many of them.
Dahlin is in seventh grade; she shared how some friends of hers who do not go to school end up on the streets. They either sell things to make money for their family or get pulled into drugs or prostitution. Some seem to “disappear overnight,” she told us. As I heard Dahlin talking, my heart ached. Yet, at the same time, I was grateful that we get to be a part of helping children and students like her to stay in school and have dreams for a better future. She is one of my favourites, even though I try not to have them. Her face lights up every time I see her, and she gives the best hugs. She introduced me to her mother, little brother and sister and invited me into her home. It was such an honour and a humbling experience when I saw how little they have. Dahlin wants to be a doctor one day so she can help her family and those in her community. She is a ray of sunshine in an area so filled with darkness. I believe that through sponsorship, Dahlin can achieve her dream to be a doctor.
Another student I have known for more than four years is Cristofer. He shared with us that if a student is not in school, they are either involved in gangs or drugs. He said it so casually like it was normal, which sadly is the case for many. The cycle of poverty, violence, and being drawn into gangs is so prevalent in Honduras that many try to leave the country for a better life in the United States.
Our ministry, Schools of Hope, works in one of the poorest areas on the edge of the capital city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Poverty, gang violence, lack of water, and low employment are just some of the norms for the families who live in the communities where we serve. In the past, many children would graduate from Grade 6 and not pursue higher education. It was not encouraged by many parents as they needed them to work and make money to provide for their family. A great number of parents are uneducated themselves and do not know how to read or write, so education has not been a priority.
However, in the last several years, we are seeing more and more students attending high school. ChildCARE Plus sponsorship has made a real impact in this area since we are able to cover the cost of students’ transportation to school and all their school supplies. There is no public high school in the area, so students must take a bus or taxi, which is quite expensive. In 2016, four students graduated from high school, and in 2017, nine more. This past November, we were delighted to see 15 students graduate.
Henry is one of our graduates from 2016. He received highest honours in high school and is literally a genius. He received an award and a laptop from the president of Honduras for his academic achievements. Henry’s father abandoned him when he was young, so he lives with his mother in a small wooden home in one of the communities where we work. For someone living in this area, the hope of attending high school, graduating, and then going to university is a dream that many do not believe they can achieve. Thanks to ChildCARE Plus sponsorship, Henry was able to graduate from high school and is currently pursuing his studies in university. His dream is to become a math teacher. Henry is currently working part-time with Schools of Hope as a member of our water project team. He works several mornings a week to help install bio-sand filters in homes in his community and attends classes in the afternoons.
I am thankful that through ChildCARE Plus sponsorship, students like Dahlin, Cristofer and Henry can have hope for a brighter future. I am so glad we have the opportunity each week to share the hope of Jesus with the children in the public schools. The smiles on these faces show me there is hope. We may not know the struggles these children face in their homes or the loss they have experienced, but we can give them the gift of hope—Jesus Christ!
Kathy Mizen serves as the director of Schools of Hope Honduras and has been a global worker with the PAOC since 2014. Previously, Kathy served as a children’s pastor for 20 years and has always had a passion for kids and missions. To see live updates from Honduras, follow Kathy on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/KathysHonduranAdventures) or to give the gift of hope to a child in need, visit www.erdo.ca/sponsor-now.
Image © ERDO. This article appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.