Sunday, 31 March 2019

Our last day here and we are too busy getting packed,tidying our living space for the next team and too involved to get onto the bus by 0800 to get us into the city to catch our flight, to realize how caught up in our emotions we are in actually leaving this place.  So we were up early, but I guess no earlier than most mornings as we often hear the boys up and at their chores just after 5.  This morning though, we are invited to attend their morning gathering and devotions out on the soccer pad.  This is their time to say thank you to us and was done nicely by a couple of the boys (and translated through the English teacher Enrique).  This student was one of the younger ones and seemed to be a leader already. 


.....and for us to let them know how thankful that WE are for them and all we have learned this week, for their love and respect and hospitality to us.  That they have a wonderful opportunity in this school to make a difference in their lives, in their family's and in Honduras to be leaders.  Here, through Enrique, Dave is telling them just that!

We try to capture all that is said and observed- in our hearts and on our cameras!

We hear an emotional and powerful speech from Lazaro who believes that the only way that this place could grow and change as it has over 40 years, is by God's hands through the teams that have come and by all the supporters who have been part of this project in Honduras in the past and those who have yet to learn about the work here in the future.  It is our task, to tell the people who ask, why we go to Honduras and about the work that is being done here.  It was an emotional speech both for him and for us to absorb. He has been with this organization since its beginning and he is the one who has seen the changes and helped with the growth as well as teachers and staff that are truly dedicated to these children.  

We end this part of our morning by taking a picture of all the kids - each holding up a toothbrush and toothpaste which were part of the donations!  It shows their appreciation and also no excuse for not making sure they brush their teeth each day! 

Back in town at the primary centre, we had a little time before departure to the airport, to catch Profe Heyser teaching the children Honduran folk dancing. The kids are enthusiastic, catching  his enthusiasm and love for this art.  In past years, he has let them to win competitions for their school.  There was as suggestion from one of us to him that perhaps in future trips he'd teach us some folkdancing!  He thought that a good idea.  Dancing is part of their cultural wealth both for the country and this school.  Each dance tells a story and has a meaning.  It was fun to watch the kids in this activity.  

Again we had time to debrief with the staff, (Matt, Erika and Tim) about out time here, as they listened to our observations and thoughts for the week. We wanted to get their photo to be sure that we have a record of the Toronto shirt - just to make us feel at home!  (We also find out that Matt has a team sweater for other areas of the country where teams come from!)
Off to the airport, taking with us one of the students who gets the job of being on the roof to unload the van of our luggage.  It is safe to say that we are happy that we don't have as many heavy bags as we head home.  

We leave behind many busy hours and full days as we worked and learned and got to know the boys.  We take with us the memories of a memorable week and the resolve to tell the story of El Hogar to others.  We learned about a number of very positive programs going on in the country.  We are encouraged by all the positive effects that these programs have in so many areas.  We are inspired.  While each of us came with a servant heart, we felt we were in partnership and a relationship with the El Hogar programs to help where we can.  We all agreed that we gained alot more than we gave.  We saw true humility lived out in the people we met this week.  They shared with us their hospitality and acceptance.  We have been so blessed by this trip.

Friday, 29 March 2019

This was another education day and we were delighted to attend the Museo de National Identity in the centro of Tegucigalpa.  So again it was interesting to pass through some parts of the city where we hadn't been before and saw everyday life in the city.  The cathedral in the town square and a spot to buy tortillas or frutas. 

The museum contains a complete visual display of the history of Honduras.  Unfortunately, this historical part was under renovation, but we still had Erika's chosen guide, Ariel, who puts the standard for guides rather high!  We still got a rather open and honest story of the history through the art display that he took us through which was open.  The art was wonderful and the first section that was Honduran art told the stories about oppression, poverty, violence, hope for the future, environmental damage, no voice for justice, peace.  It was fascinating and we got alot of Honduran historical stories through the interpretation of the art.  There was also a Picasso display and interesting to have a Picasso display in Honduras. 
We had lunch back at El Hogar again and were pleased to have Tim Munro with our group again this morning.  We had time to have our traditional picture around the logo of El Hogar.
We had a little time to check out the raised garden that we as a team started last year and so it was wonderful to see all sorts of things growing including pineapple.
We hitched a ride back to the Technical Institute with Gustavo who drives the students each day.  We picked up the 7, 8, and 9th grade girls at their high school on one side of the city, drove north to ITSM to pick up the Grade 10 and 11 girls and then he would take them all back to Santa Lucia.  In the meantime, there would be teachers who would hitch a ride with us in the morning after they finished their night shifts and another trip taking teachers back home again at night.  It must be a nightmare for the logistics and sorting rides, but it happens each day and seems to work.   Sometimes it is important to be able to take a nap on the bus when you can.  

We loved our activities tonight with the oldest of the students and they were very engaged in what they chose to do.  Charming and smart and polite.  Michael was the one inviting the boys to play soccer and they loved that.  He was helping them practice for the Episcopal school competitions this weekend.  
 Work shoes waiting to be packed up! 

This is our last night together.  We have enjoyed our home this week which must have been the "manor" of the owner of this property.  We also have grown together as a team, working together, laughing together, sharing meals together, sharing and praying together.  It as been a special time.  Teammates for a short time, but friends forever.   

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Our two official days for work projects are over and today is our learning and education day.  A very full day of discovering some of the very positive programs that are happening here.  We were in the van with Danilo, one of the El Hogar drivers by 0800 to take us to Tegucigalpa and to El Hogar.  We were met by the Executive Director, Matt Engleby, and also Tim Munroe who is the Director from the Boston office and down for a visit, so there was lots of good conversation and discussion about the dreams and  changes that are taking place in the schools. We also had some time with Claudia, the director of the school and she too gave us her enthusiastic report on the new happenings at the school.  In the new extensions of Honduran obligatory education to Grade 9, our El Hogar schools are working towards grade 12, but have started by offering up to Grade 11 so far.  The other big change is the addition of day students.  Last year there were 4 day students and this year there are 77.  They come from various neighbourhoods, including the biggest area called La Betania where the bus picks up 50 kids on our school bus each morning.  A former teacher's brother, Delmer, is a dynamic, charismatic, enthusiastic community worker in that neighbourhhod and  has made great strides in trying to improve the quality of life in this community.

Here Tim from our Boston office and Erika enjoy conversation with him.

 The neighbourhood sends about 50 kids to El Hogar.    We visited three of the moms in their homes whose children are now part of El Hogar and who all commented how their children's' lives have changed academically.  We visited their homes and in one of them, as we all  went inside, we totally filled the room and here is where the mom lives with her two children.  And in the next two homes, we felt that while they were simple homes that they had the support of their community and all pleased that their children have a new outlook on their schooling.

We visited the dental suite as well to chat with Doctora Nora who is the resident dentist and glad to receive our toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Lunch was at El Hogar and we couldn't get into the dining room until the children had finished their lunch, for our usual volunteer dining section is now being used for a Grade 1 class!

The afternoon was spent at the Ciudad Mujer  Centre where we viewed as an absolutely amazing model of a centre for women that exists to improve the living conditions of Honduran women, by facilitating services that meet their basic needs and strategic interests.  There are

6 different services for women under one roof  in this two year old building which have clinics to empower women through their programs of.Sexual and Reproductive Health, Domestic Violence, Economic Autonomy, Job assistance and also supplies Child Care.

We all commented that we have certainly not seen a facility like this at home and we were certainly impressed.  It was also meant a  time to spend with Claudia and appreciated that  she had taken the afternoon from her busy schedule to take us there.  Of course it meant that it was a drive through the city to view city life while we all love to do.

Our evening activities were fun again with the boys, though there were less tonight as many of the boys are trying out for a volleyball team with a tournament coming up soon. 

 Ros also had baking night with the boys, who loved making cookies for us all!

 Rod enjoying a little futbol with the boys.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Tuesday March 26, 2019 
It was another work day but thankfully broken up by several other planned activities.  After an early start building raised garden beds, we were off in the van with two students to visit their homes in the vicinity of the technical school. 
We picked up some groceries on the way to offer as hostess gifts and were warmly welcomed on our arrival.  

One mother set out chairs for everyone on the veranda, served a glass of Coke, and gave us some bananas to take home.  The homes were very basic with outdoor wood cooking, laundry, and plumbing but with electricity and water. (Note the armadillo shell on the corrugated wall in the kitchen.) 

One mother was pickling green mangos which she sells.  At the other home, there was a big garden with flowers plus bananas, mangos, other fruit trees and even sugar cane.  
On our return, we continued with our work on the garden beds, making good progress despite having to remove some big stones.  

We welcomed a break for lunch and watched a video of the documentary “Poverty Inc.”.   It was very thought provoking as it described how well-meaning charities and foreign aid can actually be detrimental to the long term development of the people they are trying to help.  Many charities are rethinking their programs and it was excellent background to understand the changes, both current and planned at El Hogar.   
Tuesday night is movie night and we were invited to watch “Bumblebee”, the latest transformer movie with the boys.  A good time was had by all, especially those that managed to stay awake. 


Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Today is a work day and so we started in earnest with our project.  Before our labour, we got a tour of the workshops where the students are in the mornings before they go to regular academic classes in the afternoon.  We were impressed with the size of the shops and now with girls added to the classes, there is a whole new dimension.

There is one female shop teacher who is glad to have girls in the class. 

The technical courses are carpentry, electricity and welding.  And we also did a tour of the computer lab which is quite impressive and these students will have a high quality of computer skills when they graduate. 

The final stop was in the chapel to see the stunning and moving mural painted on the altar wall.  It was the vision of our ITSM director Lazaro and painted by a graduate//art student from El Hogar.  Lazaro spent time with us as he explained the mural and the meaning to him. 

The plan is to make raised garden beds as we did at El Hogar last year.  Erika has all the lumber cut and ready for us and tools necessary for the job.  First the ground needs working and turning the soil and the strong grass roots which  is hardest job.  Meanwhile others were working on the boxes to construct them.


The sun is intense out there and so we traded jobs and it was clear that the team was really looking after each other.
The other task is to sort and do inventory on the donations we have all brought with us.  Wonderful generosity of those who have donated and we have been able to leave behind loads of soap and deodorant and shampoo.  It was best to do the counting and sorting on the floor and we are thankful to Dave who has done a hug job of the counting! 

We had a wonderful evening doing crafts and activities with the Grade 7 boys.  

We were surprised at the few who were happy to do cross stitch which Becky had prepared  

Then there were puzzles and card games and colouring and skipping.  -

Ros had a cookie making session  with some of the boys which was a success.  They then shared their efforts with the rest of the kids.  

We loved the evening and so enjoyed the boys.  I think they enjoyed the activities and certainly always had a smile for us.