Conference on Honduras, 2010 Helping Honduras Kids was incorporated as a 501c-3 non-profit in October 2006 in the State of California, just 2 months from the date of filing. The sister Honduran non-profit, Ayudando Niños Hondureños was formed in December 2006, just 4 months from the date of filing.
Vision and Mission Statement Our Vision: To bring education, opportunity, food, shelter, medical care and a loving family environment to disadvantaged children in Honduras. Mission Statement: To improve the level of dignity, education, opportunity and health for orphaned, abandoned, abused and special-needs children and single mother families on the north coast of Honduras. This will be accomplished through programs designed to provide for the physical, medical, educational, recreational and emotional needs of underprivileged children in marginalized rural communities. Our website is www.helpinghonduraskids.org Our contact information is [email_address]
Problems Affecting Children in Honduras *Half the Honduran population is 18 years or younger, technically children *40% of Honduran children are sexually abused and/or exploited, almost always by family members *3/4 of Honduran households have no permanent father figure living at home. There are lots of single mothers, grandmas, etc raising children *The average age at 1 st birth for a woman is FOURTEEN *Domestic violence is rampant *Discrimination against girls and women is part of the culture in this macho society *Gangs, drugs, organized crime, human trafficking etc are pervasive in many areas *The population on average has less than 5 years of primary education. Less than 1% attend college *>65% of the population live in extreme poverty
Jungle School The private, free Jungle School opened for classes on Feb. 12, 2007 and presently has 74 students in grades 1-6 and 15 in Kindergarden There are 3 teachers in two classrooms, located on a hill overlooking the Cangrejal River. A 3 rd classroom is under construction. Volunteers help with the classes and after school English lessons
Difficulties at the Jungle School A retired Colonel in the area has been trying to take away the Jungle School land for >2 years now The Department of Education tried to close this private school and another one previously located at the Hogar de Amor. After 7 meetings, they proposed a plan to legalize the schools that we title “only in Honduras”. The school was robbed 5 times last year by the same 19-yr-old delinquent. He also sexually abused 2 students, a boy and a girl, both 8 years old. We currently have him in jail, where we hope he stays, as he will kill someone if he is freed. We have 4 girls from this school, ages 6, 8, 10 and 15, in our Hogar de Amor due to sexual abuse by the father and brother. The father is dangerous, and has found our “new” Hogar de Amor and threatens to take the girls out. Some children walk 2 hours one way on slippery trails to attend classes. They live under extreme poverty, and for many the noon meal that we serve is their only meal of the day. The caregivers are largely illiterate. Many of these children have no parents.
Grandmas Kids Program Children in this program live with Grandmas and receive food, clothing, medical attention, school uniforms and supplies, vitamins, etc This allows the children to remain in their community There are 3 Grandmas with 30 children in El Naranjo, Cangrejal River Watershed
Solares Nuevos Campesino Village, La Bomba, Jutiapa This village consists of 30 families, with 60 children, living in small plastic/wood huts, without electricity. HHK and a missionary group have purchased one manzana of land in La Bomba. Water is from shallow wells onsite HHK has built a classroom/kinder/meeting room for use by the community. The missionary group is building a small church and some concrete block houses HHK provides some food, clothing, medical attention and vitamins for the children We recently took on another campesino village with 70 children in Bonatillo, where we provide the same help.
Former Hogar de Amor (Childrens Home) The Hogar received 19 children from IHNFA on May 7, 2007 The Hogar was run by HHK, in a partnership with the Lisa Lopes Foundation that provided the building. Due to our emergency evacuation, we are no longer in this facility. HHK presently operates in a rented house with a director, 2 “tias”, plus a cook/laundry lady. The children are attending our Jungle School, and get up at 3:45 a.m. to get ready for classes. The present 22 children range in age from 6-15 years and are declared at “social risk” (abused, abandoned and orphaned)
Difficulties at the Former Hogar de Amor *Our first “tios”, a young couple, ended up embezzling large sums of money from the organization *This couple also presented security risks to the Hogar. *The Hogar was assaulted and robbed by 3 masked men. We had to employ a security company at great cost to protect ourselves. Men from the community were on the grounds and inside the building at night for dubious purposes, usually involving our young girls Girls escaped from the Hogar numerous times, usually aided by adult delinquents from the local community. Two (11 and 15) were raped. We fortunately always recovered the girls. We changed tias many times due to problems with theft, abuse of children, a tia that ran off with the guard, etc. This is not good for children. There are very few honest employees. Virtually all steal.
More Problems Experienced at the Former Hogar de Amor * Our nearby volunteer house in the village of Cacao was robbed several times. The last time, 2 men posing as plumbers entered with a key while a volunteer was present. *Our volunteers were robbed at gunpoint and knifepoint in daylight hours on the streets of La Ceiba. We now require volunteers to sign a liability waiver, read our extensive safety guidelines and take out medical insurance. *The political crisis in Honduras in 2009 caused many volunteers and work groups to cancel their trips to help our children. *Two long-term volunteers were threatened during the emergency evacuation of our Hogar children, and left the country .
Emergency Evacuation of our Former Hogar de Amor Orphanage On August 12, 2009 six men in a red pickup shot at the Hogar building and into the air with an AK-47 and 9 mm pistols. Over the following 5 days they continued to drive by and threaten us. Two men dressed as police, were seen in the vehicle. *Finally, all our employees left and they ran off our security guard. We received an emergency call from the 2 ladies left caring for 22 children. A bus was sent to evacuate the children and their tias. Dole sent 3 containers to take all of our goods out of the building and put them in storage in La Ceiba. *The children lived for 3 days in a small hostel, before a rental house was located to serve as our temporary new Hogar. *We do not know the motive for this attack on our orphanage children. We know this happens in Africa, but in Honduras??!! It was a gang, but even gangs have their codes, which include not messing with children. *We left behind an enormous investment in the facility, including a small school next door, and incurred high relocation expenses. *Our children, staff, board members and finances are just now beginning to recover. Fortunately our children are safe and well
Suffering endured by our 22 Hogar de Amor children in the past *Most have been sexually, physically and emotionally abused *The sexual abuse included both boys and girls, some as young as 2-3 years old *A young girl was burned with glowing embers from the cooking fire, and forced to eat excrement, as punishment *Four young sisters were repeatedly sexually abused by their father and brother *A young boy, then 4, was beaten with electric cables and sodomized by many men *A young girl hid under the bed much of the day and night while her mother was “raped” by a string of men (she didn’t understand that her mother was a prostitute). Her father was killed in front of her by a car
Why keep going? * The BIGGEST REASON – LOVE for the children and a recognition of their personal struggles.
What we need *LAND in a safe area to build our new Hogar de Amor. We have an offer of funds and a mission team to do the construction. *Psychological counseling for our children. Most have Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Abused boys become abusers. Abused girls run away. Some children express their feelings with extreme violence. *Committed long-term volunteers with a knowledge of Spanish *FOOD. We feed 80-100 children at least one meal a day. For many in our Jungle School, it is their only meal of the day. *Help with safety issues from the Honduran and US governments. *Help, not harassment, from Honduran government officials. *Help in getting containers into the country in a timely manner.
Summary and Conclusions Helping Honduras Kids strives to provide quality care and love to >200 children on the north coast of Honduras Except for teachers and “tias” we are an all-volunteer organization Good contacts with government agencies and political and business personalities is essential for efficient management of childrens’ programs A Honduran non-profit and approval from IHNFA is essential in order to operate a Childrens Home. Outreach programs to nearby communities in areas served are essential for good community relations PATIENCE is an essential ingredient when dealing with government officials, disadvantaged children and angry adults.
Conclusions Continued Our priorities for the children we serve are love, hope, opportunity and education. LOVE is a critical ingredient. You must be ready to take calculated risks, put delinquents in jail (remembering that this is dangerous), have a good lawyer and above all to protect yourself (security guards when necessary). Revenge is a BIG factor in Honduran society. Delinquents may attack you, rape your young girls, steal, etc, but bringing charges against them only escalates the risk for you and your children. You must STOP all vicious rumors at their source. These will quickly kill any project.
Children’s Day, Sept. 10, 2009 One of our little 5 yr olds sang on stage with Honduran Folk Singer, Guillermo Anderson