Saturday, 30 April 2016


It is a new day.  We have sunshine and water!  What a way to start the day.  The showers were cold but the morning coffee was nice and hot!   Already, the school bus has left to take some of the older girls to the high school and a group of children will be dropped off somewhere to help promote the 2nd annual Marathon that is being organized by El Hogar and it is not even 7 a.m. yet!  The marathon was very successful last year and they are hoping for the same this year on May 15th.  You can sponsor a runner by going on the El Hogar website.
We were pleased to share a morning chapel period with the children by one of the priests from St Mary’s Cathedral, the church were we worship on Sundays.  We love how the children sit attentively and respond to the priest’s homily which was on the Ten Commandments.  Oscar, who is sponsored by the Pikes was given a special blessing today as it is his birthday. Notice the painting of the child on the mural behind the priest. 

 Back to our work projects for the rest of the morning.  Mostly finishing up the painting we started in the dormitory, but there will still be plenty left for the next team.  The Director Matt, asked if the engineers might like to bolt a book case to a wall in his office and a good thing to do except difficult with an adobe wall.  As usual, they came up with a solution and book case is now bolted to the wall!  

Several of us worked with our chosen children again and have established a wonderful bond withe them. 

Lynn and Ros have put together a kit of learning resources that can be used by future teams for kids that need special learning situations.  They were really helpful in giving us ideas when we worked with our individual kids. 

Meanwhile most of the team went on another home visit.  This was likely one of the worst situation we have seen.  Two children from El Hogar who had lived there with their grandmother went with us.  Their mother and grandmother did not get along and the mother now lives in another city.  The children are sad without their mother so were hoping to see their grandmother.  The home was down a steep path lined with other makeshift wood and sheet metal houses.  Our host turned out to be an aunt who cleaned streets in the morning and watched the 7 children who lived in a space the size of a single garage.  There was no running water, toilet, or refrigeration.  We could not see any food in the house.  The children were sad to leave without seeing their grandmother but she was down by the river getting water.  This is not a safe area and we could not wait around.  After returning to El Hogar we purchased a large bag of food staples for the family.  I am sure there will be more children from the family coming to El Hogar at some point. 

The day is going too quickly and it is hard to believe that we are saying good bye this evening.  After supper in the activity time, Jane had prepared a group exercise group and with Andrea and Matt and then with the whole team participating, we had pretty well the whole school participating.  Some of our team members easily showed up some of the kids in endurance!

In a very orderly way, we were able to scoop 150 cups of ice-cream to students, teachers, hangers-on and volunteers for our Friday evening snack.  They loved the ice-cream which is a real treat for them! 

The best part of all was the thank you speeches from a few of the kids from each dorm.  They included some of our sponsored kids, Sergio, Raphael, Ceaser.  Very touching moments.  Then we were told to lineup and the ALL the kids came through for hugs for each one of us.  We ended with a prayer together - children, teachers and volunteers.   We will miss all those dear faces. 



Friday, 29 April 2016


Today was a scheduled sports activity activity day. 

After breakfast, we boarded the van, along with a few kids squished in with us  (overflow from the school bus, and headed to Villa Olimpia, about 10 kms away, for a morning of coaching in various sports.  This is a huge sports park with various facilities for a variety of sports.  El Hogar is part of a  new program which allows the children to learn and play several sports, sponsored by the government for needy children in Tegucigalpa. 

 We spent  time observing lessons being taught by qualified Phys Ed instructors at different locations within the park.  The sports included basketball, tennis, pinp pong, Tae Kwon Do. racquetball.  Some of us were participating with the kids and when Louise was with the tennis group, she met two tennis players from the Honduran team (Number 1 and 2)  who had played last year in the Toronto Pan Ams,  We enjoyed watching our boys participate in several soccer matches with other schools.  It is amazing to watch these young boys that seem to have been born with impressive soccer skills from a very early age. 

After lunch, our team broke off into various work projects – some to continue with some of the painting in the dorm, some preparing for the evening craft and some preparing activities for the chosen group of children that needed extra academic help.  In the midst of all this, the rain heavens opened with incredible tropical downpour and a sound and light program for thirty minutes which gave us  temporary heat relief for a few hours.  The Hondurans are welcoming the rain as the weather has been hot, dry and humid.  The rainy season is about to start and maybe it has! 

It has been a joy to work with some of the kids needing extra help one on one and they are enjoying the interaction with us.  Our days are full and we were tired but content after a wonderful day that ended as usual with spending more time with them in crafts.  
No water again tonight which has been off since afternoon.  It often happens because the reservoirs are running low and rainy season with rectify the water shortage.  This pictures is of Moises and William who reqeusted that they keep the Canadian flags.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Buenos Dias everyone, Just wanted to add a few pictures to yesterday's blog that Matt and Andrea did. There were a lot more pictures that we wanted to send along.  It was a great day and lovely to capture some more of it with pictures;

Our bus ride out to the Farm with a large group of the kids on the big buss.  All enthusiastic
and keen and happy!

The after picture!  The trip on the way home.

Some of life in Tegucigalpa on the way out of town.

Lots of modes of transportation

We  loved the tour of the farm, seeing all the land with the crops including bananas, coffee, papaya as well as all the animals they have;.  Matt, The Executive Director took us on a through tour.

The cheering section on the bleachers for the big game between the tech School and the Agricultural school.
We appreciate GIll and Craig from Baltimore who were with us for a few days on business.  they took their turn helping us with crafts and we appreciated the time they gave to the children and to us.

No leche de él
Today we visited the Agricultural School to help celebrate the 25th Anniversary!  The school is located just outside of the town of Talanga, and is home to about 60 students who, in addition to their grades 7-9 primary education, learn the basics of agriculture – growing crops and feed, raising animals for milk, eggs, or meat (which don’t all from the same animal, we learned!), and of course the value of a hard days’ work. 

On the Road to Talanga
The road up to Talanga took us through one of the tougher parts of Comayaguela – a stunning reminder of the disparity of living standards we enjoy at home.  Mud floor homes, barbed wire, broken glass, armed guards, garbage on the streets – and people living among it all.   Tough conditions, tough people – more on that later.

Touring the Farm
When we arrived at “The Farm” as it’s sometimes called, we were greeted by Yony Aguilera, the director of the Agricultural School and El Hogar’s Executive Director in Honduras, Matt Engleby, who gave us a great tour of the property.  We saw the school's banana trees, corn, sweet potatoes, papayas, mangos and coffee, along with their cows, chickens, pigs, horses and goats. The Agricultural school provides all the milk required for all El Hogar associated schools. Eggs supply the need for the Agricultural School. They also raise Tilapia on the farm, but it was just harvested a few weeks ago.After a brief mass we had a delicious “Plato Typico” lunch consisting of beef, avocado, sausages, plantains, beans and cake. Our free time was filled with Karaoke (Spanish and English) and a very competitive Connect 4 tournament.

The main event of the day, highly anticipated by students, staff and volunteer alike, was the football “friendly” between the visiting Technical School team and the home team of the Agricultural School.  As game time approached there was a nervous tension in the air as the teams began to gather in their uniforms (apparently donated by the Belmont Day School and North Toronto Team Estonia, respectively – but hey, they’re Blue and White, and that’s all that matters).  For those who have been able to visit other parts of Europe or Latin America, you know what an institution a football match can be, and today was no different.  This was the Evento Más Importante and everybody knew it.  As the teams took to the field to warm up, we took our place on the bleachers on the other side – walking around the field, of course, out of respect – as today this field was Tierra Sagrada, and was for players only.

The Evento Más Importante
They played a fast-paced, offensive game that despite many attempts, ended 1-1 at the end of 60 minutes of regulation; the Technical Institute, with St. Lukes’ own Jorge Francisco in goal, took the game in the shootout, 4-2.  Remember the toughness I mentioned earlier? Many of these kids come from tough homes, such as they are, like we saw on the drive out.  And these kids play tough on the field, no doubt.  But there was something else there – a camaraderie, commitment to fair play, and respect for the game and each other no doubt instilled in them in no small part by their education at El Hogar.  

Wednesday, 27 April 2016


Today our team had breakfast together at 7:30 am, before the majority of the group were whisked off to ITSM the technical institute where the boys can learn carpentry, welding and electricity. Janice and Louise stayed behind at El Hogar to continue painting in the dormitory. Just on the outskirts of Ameriteca, we stopped for a home visit. Belkis and her family live in a one-room wooden structure with an attached cooking area. 

Her oldest son is a graduate of ITSM, while her second son has just begun his studies there. The youngest son attends a local school. She does manual labour to provide for her family, e,g,, cutting and selling firewood, hauling sand from the river to sell along the highway.   Her story was inspiring.


 Currently she is waiting for the rainy season to plant her vegetable plot but she has a nice little flower garden outside her door!.

Once at the ISTM, we were taken on a tour of the entire complex . We were keen to see the students working in the metal, carpentry, electrical shops and the computer lab. Everyone seemed to be very focused on the task at hand and content with their work

It was Andrea and Jane's first visit and they were interested in the metal work that the boys had made.

We were all pleased to visit the large sanctuary where the boys worship every Friday.   The mural painted by one of the students a few years ago makes it a distinguishing feature and is one of the favourite parts of the visit.  . After a stop for a snack in the kitchen and a visit to the dormitory, we headed back to Tegucigalpa.

In the afternoon, Matt, Terry and Michael completed the stairs up to the Art Room.. Various team members worked on preparation of the craft materials for the evening and others worked on learning materials for learning activities with students identified as needing special support. Jane, Louise, Janice, Rosalind and Lynn worked with individual and small groups of students on fine motor skills, multiplication facts, or reading activities. Kevin enjoyed himself doing special activities with Janice. 

We had another successful craft evening after dinner. This time we worked with all the girls. They made crowns, wands, hairbands, dream catchers, bracelets, coloured pictures and a mural. There was a lot of enthusiasm and creativity in the room!

Michael helping Rubi with her dream catcher.

Andrea had the popular craft of special bracelets and handled the chaos really well.

Some of our favourite photos of the children so far.    Big ones and little ones.