Sunday, 3 February 2019

El Hogar Team 2019 and Poverty in Honduras

 The St Luke’s El Hogar Team is getting ready for our next trip leaving on March 22nd, 2019.  We are so delighted to have 6 new team members this year.  Some from our own church and 4 people from out of town and out of country!   We gathered in this picture after a planning meeting which included Rod, Ros, Mavis, Alan, Rick and Janice.  On Skype is Becky from New Hampshire, Sue from PEI, Dave from Kansas and not skyping that day is Michael on his phone, vacationing in Florida and Greg from New Hampshire.

We have been working together all fall to build our team and to raise funds for our work project when we get there and for the children that St Luke’s sponsors and so now we plan for our travel.  Are our shots and passports up to date?  What will be our plans for our time with the students?  We will spend the week at Instituto Tecnico Santa Maria, the Technical Institute, which is about 45 minutes outside Tegucigalpa and so our plans will be for the teenage boys.  We are also beginning to gather our donations to take with us - hygiene products, soaps, shower products, deodorant and razors, toothpaste, floss and toothbrushes.  If you wish to donate, please watch for news about when we will be collecting these items – a few weeks before we leave.   
 It takes a lot of soap and toothpaste for the use of 250 students.  Can you imagine!?   And can you imagine how some of these kids may not have known about soap or toothpaste before coming to El Hogar.  These disadvantaged children come from the poorest of conditions where they have seen much too much of the painful, devastating aspects that life can bring.  These children have been in unstable living conditions with an incredibly difficult childhood.    
 When you come as a new person to Honduras and as you fly into Tegucigalpa for the first time, you will see that the city is in a beautiful setting with a stunning landscape amongst the mountains.  By the time we have landed and throughout the week, we can see poverty in all its stark, raw images, throughout the streets and in the homes of some of the students that we visit.    But amongst this, inside the gates of El Hogar at any one of the locations were our students are, we see happiness and smiles with hope and love within the children. We strive to come to grips with the poverty in our own community and what I read in yesterday’s local paper is that in our own region of Halton, 1 in 10 children were living in poverty.  When I looked up the statistics for Honduras, I find that it has the highest level of poverty in Latin America, with a poverty rate of over 66 percent. 
In Honduras, life doesn't come with guarantees like medical treatment for illnesses, having shoes to wear to school and getting an education.  The education that the children receive at El Hogar is one of the most powerful ways to reduce poverty and improve health, gender equality, peace and stability.   
We are grateful for those who are part of El Hogar everyday - directors, teachers and staff, volunteers and sponsors who help this school and home provide all these things to the children in a nurturing environment - breaking the cycle of poverty and giving these children hope for a bright future.  

I love this picture of the stunning red flowers on these trees within the city of Tegucigalpa.  This taken at the end of the dry season where the country has not seen rain in weeks or months.  Yet, in this drought where the air is thick with dust and the land is parched, the tree blossoms in beautiful flowers bringing hope that rain is to follow soon.  I think of the children as they come from devastating circumstances in the drought of their lives and how they find hope in the love they are part of at El Hogar.  As a team, we hope that in some small way, we can contribute to the journey of these children in their young lives.  We hope that it will be a time of learning and understanding for us of where they are coming from and the challenges they have in their childhood.  We hope that we can help them understand with our presence that they truly matter to us and matter greatly in God's eyes.  
Giving goes a long way in Honduras to help these kids and to those in poverty and by pulling together, we can make a difference in these children's lives.  There are many ways that we can all help this school and it is worth checking out the El Hogar website.