DINAF (Directorate for Childhood, Adolescence and Family). As a result, NPH Honduras has received more than 60 new children in the past month as part of new agreements with more children expected in the months to come. Throughout this process NPH Honduras has formed strategic alliances with authorities and has been recognized as one of the principal organizations cooperating with the Honduran government.
A few years ago, I overheard a volunteer asking one of the caregivers in Casa Suyapa, our home for our youngest children, what was expected of her when she worked there in the evenings. The caregiver responded that she should go from bed to bed, asking the children how their day was, and making them feel loved as they fell asleep. The volunteer responded that she wanted to do more; that she wanted to work hard and be a greater help to the staff that works there every day. To that, the caregiver reassured her that tucking the kids in at night is the easiest, most fun, and most important thing that we get to do…
We are not just a holiday camp, or a school, or a training facility for poor children. We don’t just educate our children in the hope that they will one day find a job that will allow them to live independently. We don’t just clothe the barefoot children, feed the hungry children and tend to those children who suffer from sickness. For sure, we do all of these things through the generosity of so many supporters, and we do them honestly and to the best of our ability with each child’s potential in mind; but we also strive to be home, family, love and hope for all children who are under our care. Our coworkers work hard every day to be real and important parts of these children’s lives; to be the shoulders that get cried on, the laughter that celebrates, the hugs that give security, the ears that listen consciously, and the voices that will guide these children through the challenges and decisions that await them.
This past month we have been blessed with the opportunity to be all of these things for 64 new children who have come to us from closing government programs. With recent changes in governmental authorities responsible for child welfare in Honduras, NPH Honduras has been working closely with the new authorities in order to build a strategic and collaborative relationship and respond to the needs of children. The first group of 19 children came to us on November 10th from a government facility in San Pedro Sula, a city five hours away from the Ranch with the highest murder rate in the world. The center shares one wall with a youth detention facility that has fallen under complete control of the juvenile delinquents that it holds, with children rotating by the hour through the four lookout posts that they have built in trees and
on roofs throughout the center. A number of staff members of that center have been found dead over the past months after they have left their jobs to go home, and the lost, angry and dangerous boys had recently started to threaten to take over the adjacent children’s home to hold the innocent children hostages as they demanded their freedom. We had a quick response. On the Friday that we were asked to help, by Monday the children were with us in the safety of our Ranch and family.
One month later on December 10th, a large group of our staff and volunteers arrived at the Ranch with 45 more children from a closing foster care program on the north coast of Honduras, ranging from one to sixteen years of age. As the children hopped off of the bus with their belongings in hand or were carried, cradled by our coworkers with bags of baby bottles and diapers over their shoulders, they were welcomed by hundreds of our children, staff and volunteers, clapping, cheering, and welcoming them to their new home and family. Their voices made promises to be mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters to them; their tears of joy made clear to these new children that their promise is sincere.
About a week after the first group of children arrived, eight-year-old Kimberly – was asked what she liked about the Ranch, she quietly whispered “they rub my back as I fall asleep, and they sing to me.”
We promise to nurture and care for these new children. We promise to form them, educate them, guide them and love them as we follow our founder’s example, responding to the needs of abandoned and neglected children as best we can and providing them with love, security, hope and family. This is why we are here, and this is what inspires us to push forwards, even in the most challenging of times and places. This is what you help us do.
National Director, NPH Honduras