by Ann Peachman Stewart

“After Grade 6, which is the national average grade to graduate, only one in 12 available seats is occupied. But ERDO’s work in Honduras with Schools of Hope is changing everything.”

“I don’t understand why my friends don’t come to school when they have a cold.” This lament came from Gerson, a child in Grade 5 who lives in Honduras and attends school with the help of Schools of Hope, an ERDO-supported program. Gerson’s words were especially poignant because he is recovering from leukemia. There were many days when he felt extremely ill, but he always came to school. He was eager to keep his grades up and work his hardest. When he learned all his Bible verses and did his homework, he received “Bible Bucks,” which he used to buy small presents, including one for his teacher. A kind, enthusiastic boy, Gerson loves God and the gospel presentations. His mother, a factory worker, was able to pay for his chemotherapy because of the support received by Canadians. His ChildCARE Plus sponsor helps to cover his school expenses. Gerson attends a School of Hope, where he is fed daily by ERDO’s in-school feeding program.

Schools of Hope is a ministry based out of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Tegucigalpa—or Tegus, as it is more commonly referred to—is a city of well over one million people and is surrounded by mountains. Schools of Hope operates on one of these mountains. Randy and Judy Lundrigan are the directors, and their story is a powerful testimony of God’s leading. They both took early retirement due to health issues, travelling to visit and help friends in Honduras in 2004. “We had never seen such poverty or experienced such dire need. When we returned to Canada, we could not get the Honduran kids out of our hearts,” says Judy. They took a team back to minister in 2005 and began to serve there full time in 2006.

Schools of Hope 

  • Founded in 2010
  • Sponsors over 100 children through ChildCARE Plus
  • 30 children are in a scholarship program, who otherwise would not be able to finish their education.
  • Through ERDO and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, twice a day they feed over 1,500 children who are at risk

“In 2009, God began to stir in our hearts that we needed to ‘do more than just give; start teaching and training.’ We thought we were supposed to build a school, but in essence God had other plans at that time as He began to open doors to public schools [where we could] minister.” Randy and Judy met with school directors and teachers who knew and welcomed them, and with education officials. The schools were in desperate shape. “The government had not been able to provide adequate care for the school facilities. The walls were dreary, the roofs had holes, and in rainy season water poured in. There were no textbooks, and if there were, they were outdated and shared by multiple students. Students would copy down explanations from a chalkboard—if they had paper or a pencil. There were no visual aids or teaching tools—no maps to teach geography, no dictionaries or other resources. After our assessment we asked teachers to pick one thing as a priority. The non-Christian public schools replied, ‘Give them Jesus.’ Needless to say, we accepted the challenge.”

The community where Schools of Hope ministers lives in a state of survival. Adults make between one and five dollars a day—if there is work. One child said, “My dad goes out to find work every day. If he does, we eat. If not, we go to bed hungry.” Because of this, education is not high on the average family’s list of priorities. Children are pulled out of school to watch younger children or to add to the family’s resources. 

Classroom space is another issue. Children go to school for five hours or fewer a day because there is not enough space to accommodate all the children at once. They attend either morning or afternoon classes. “In most communities there are at least 500 children who do not have a seat in school. One in nine children attend classes for primary school. After Grade 6, which is the national average grade to graduate, only one of every 12 needed seats is available for students,” said Judy.

ERDO’s work in Honduras with Schools of Hope is changing everything. Books, uniforms, shoes, and the tools of education are supplied by ChildCARE Plus. Through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and matched funding from the Canadian government, children are given a nutritious drink in the morning and refried beans, tortillas and rice at lunch.

The changes in the children are obvious. Before they are a part of the program, they are underweight, often falling asleep or even fainting at school. After they start receiving proper nutrition, they come alive. Wendy Romera, principal of the kindergarten, had this to say about her observations on the development of the children in her class: “As a teacher I know there were many children who were underweight, but over the course of this school year, they have gained weight. Not only that, I have noticed they have a lot more energy and are enthusiastic about attending their classes. When they are well fed, they are not sick, and they come to school daily when food is available.” 

Schools of Hope exist to grow passionate followers of Christ, to transform lives, and to bring the children confidence and optimism for a brighter future. 

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (emphasis added). Through ChildCARE Plus sponsorship, food provided by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, and the tireless work of many visiting teams, Schools of Hope brings this truth to the Honduran children and their families.

ERDO (Emergency Relief & Development Overseas) is the humanitarian agency of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. ERDO is involved in four key areas: Crisis Response, Food Assistance, ChildCARE Plus (Child Sponsorship), and Community Development. David Adcock is the CEO. Visit www.erdo.caAnn Peachman Stewartis a freelance author from Mississauga, ON, and a longtime ERDO supporter.

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