Sunday, December 19, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
As soon as we got to the house Yann noticed that something was off. He said his eyes looked a little bit messed up. I was just so excited to have found him that I didn't notice a thing. Yann sat him down pretty quickly and asked him about his week. And specifically if he had used any drugs. Yes. Ugh. He had gotten high on Resistol (glue) twice. Glue is a huge problem with street kids here. It's really cheap to get and it takes away any hunger or thirst pangs that the kids have. And it makes you feel happy. What would you want to do when you're hungry, thirsty and unhappy? Make all of those things go away. And the glue does that for them. He had gotten high that day and apparently was still feeling the effects of it.
We ate pizza and played games and then it was time for bed. We decided that we would move two mattresses into the living room and Edgar and I would sleep out there. I had heard from boys in Nueva that Edgar would sometimes hit kids while they're sleeping and we didn't want to put David in any danger. Once we got settled in, Edgar spent the next hour babbling away. He told me more about life with his father before being put in various centers. Some good things like trips to Copan and going to his favorite restaurant, and others like “He hit me a wire. Here is one of the scars. But he's my Dad, so ...” followed by a shrug. He told me about how he survives on the street – sleeping on the ground behind a bank, which gas station guards were nice and which were violent, that the older kid I found him with did a lot of drugs but protected him, that an American lady gave him 50 Lempiras. But mainly he just kept rubbing his arms and legs and saying “I'm so clean!” And “I'm so happy!” (In both English and Spanish.) And “I'm wearing boxers!” (Underwear is definitely a luxury here.)
The next morning was probably one of the best I've had here. We woke up and watched cartoons and ate pancakes.
I taught him how to play some games on the computer. I just kept thinking - I can't believe that last night he would've been sleeping on the street. No child should ever have to do that.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
When my friends Megan and Debbie were here in July, Megan spent a lot of time with her and quickly noticed that something just wasn't right. Mainly, she was incredibly listless. Had no interest in doing anything.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Then about a month and a half ago a coworker, Sue, emailed me a link to the website. I spent a few hours reading everything I could about it and got angrier and angrier that he was sent away from there. These kids go to school, have a computer lab and are part of an organization that has a goal to "rehabilitate, educate and reintegrate" these kids and provide education so they can have a future. It's not a family, but it's a definite improvement. So, I emailed them and politely asked why they sent him to Nueva. A month later I received a response saying that he wasn't sent away, but ran away in January. They've been looking for him and would love to have him back if Richard wants to return. Two reactions - If it's a great place, why did he run away? BUT I liked that Kevin (street outreach worker from Pronino) was giving Richar the option to come back. Kevin was also very frank with me - this is a place that works with kids taken off the streets. Although it is a nice place, some of the kids can be pretty rough, they're survivors, and fights aren't uncommon. If you read this blog in May, then you know how Richard responds to getting in a fight so there's a good chance he got in a fight, then bolted in his anger. So, Monday I was excited. Tuesday, I was confused about why he would run and if this truly is a good place for him. Wednesday and Thursday I spent worrying about him running away again. Nueva is not a nice place, but at least I know where he is. The streets? Not an ok option. Friday, I decided that Pronino will give him options in life, IF he can stick with it. And he has to be given that opportunity.
On Thursday I went to Nueva to talk to Richar about if he wants to go back. All the boys were watching a movie (a rare treat) so I was having a hard time getting him to focus on our trivial conversation about where he would live while Toy Story was on. =) But in general, he said that yes, he wants to go back and no he won't run away again. (I hope, I hope, I hope!) So, my plan was to visit Pronino Monday morning, then go back to Nueva to talk to him again (without a TV distracting him) to make sure he still had the same answer.
Ok, now I digress for a minute to tell you about another boy. (This is related to Pronino, I promise.) His name is Roger and I called him mi payaso (my clown). One day in early July I went to Nueva and he wasn't there. I asked where he was and the employees told me he ran away. I asked where to and they said to the street. Gulp. So for the next month, every time we were in San Pedro I was constantly scanning the corners where street kids beg or wash your windows for a little money trying to find him. I was so worried about him. How can a silly kid survive on the street? Last week after I received the email from Pronino about Richar I spent some time looking at their website again. Kevin has a blog and I went to it to look for pictures of any kids that I recognized. This is the story I found: www.pronino.org/page14201948.aspx. It's a story about 3 brothers in Pronino. One ran away in June of last year and they couldn't find him. They tried one last time at the end of July and found him. Then I saw the picture - the found kid was Roger!! I was so happy he was in a safe place. And this made me even more excited to go to Pronino on Monday.
My understanding of how Pronino works is that when the boys are taken off the streets they spend 3 months to a year in the 'intake' center called Nueva Vida - new life. Many of the boys are addicts so there is a detox process. These kids don't leave the property for school or field trips. When they have proven that they can handle more freedom, the younger boys move to a house called Los Vencedores - the overcomers and the older boys go to Amor y Paz - love and peace. I know there is another center up in the mountains where they learn a trade like welding, electricity, carpentry, etc but I'm not sure what age is in La Montana. So, we arrived at Pronino yesterday morning to find a big field with a handful of buildings. There is a fence, but it's not threatening like the 20 foot concrete walls with barbed wire on top like they have at Nueva. Some of the boys saw us coming and opened the gate for us. Little things started popping out to me. The kids had long hair. (They shave heads at Nueva.) I asked Kevin if everyone shared clothes or if each kid has their own. Each child has their own. We found Roger in Los Vencedores. It was everything I could do to not just immediately grab him up in a huge hug. He recognized that he knew me, but didn't remember my name and or why he knew me, so I thought it would probably be weird for some gringa to squeeze all the air out of him with my hug! I successfully resisted. We continued the tour and Roger tagged along. As we were walking I kept tussling his long hair since I had decided that this wasn't the time or place for bear hugs and had another wonderful realization. His hair was clean! Again, this is not the norm at Nueva.
We got to the classroom in Nueva Vida (intake center) and Kevin cries out "He's here!" I had no idea who he was talking about until the classroom door opened and there was Richar's smiling face! He gave all of us hugs then immediately went back to his seat and kept working on his school work. Kevin talked to him for a minute and Richar said "I'm never ever leaving this place again!" (Oh, I pray that that is true.) We continued on our way so that they could back to class. After a while I asked the question I was the most nervous to hear the answer to: Can we come visit Pronino? Kevin said "Sure!" (Huge sigh of relief) Hmm, but I think it's only on Sundays. . . and only once a month. (Punch in the gut) I quickly tried to explain that we wouldn't be coming just to see Richar. That we would want to be volunteers that would be working with all the boys - seeing Richar would just be bonus. He said, "well, if you can commit to 3 months..." I explained that we do actually have other jobs! He told us to write up a proposal of what we want to do and he'd present it to the director. Pray, pray pray that this works out!
We stayed til Richar was done with class and then talked to him for a few minutes. He was just so happy to be there. And seriously, after 3 days of brushing his teeth (no toothbrushes in Nueva) they are literally whiter. I made him show me his teeth again and exclaimed about how white they are and he dug in his pocket and proudly produced a new toothbrush! AND when he left us to go to lunch he ran to the outside sink and washed his hands first. I know that I'm making a very big deal about some small things but I just love that he's being treated like a human with a future as opposed to an animal in a holding tank. And Pronino has a sponsorship program so we are going to try to find a way to sponsor him at least in part while we're here and then in full when we get home. I know there are going to be many hard days ahead for him, but today I'm just feeling so much joy and hope!
(I really wanted to take a picture of him yesterday. Especially since he was wearing oversized swimming trunks with the Incredible Hulk on them. They may not have fit, but I'm pretty sure he specfically picked those shorts - the kid's obsessed with superheroes! But I would've had to interrupt lunch and since he's new I don't want to draw any more attention to him than is necessary. So next time I'll have a picture of him - probably still in the Incredible Hulk shorts. And a picture of Roger with so much hair!)
Thank you to everyone who has been praying with me for this wonderful child. But don't stop! Don't stop praying for him or the other kids at Nueva. There is still much to do!
Friday, August 6, 2010
I can’t believe that it has actually been months since the last time we’ve posted. Those months literally feel like days. Well, maybe more like weeks. Hmm, and months are a combination of weeks so ok, it’s been months! And boy oh boy have we had some full ones! After my last post I wanted to keep everyone constantly updated on the orphanage, but frankly, I think I got into a bit of a rut. I wanted my next post to be in all caps, RICHAR HAS BEEN MOVED TO A HAPPY AND SAFE HOME AND WE HAVE SINGLEHANDEDLY ENDED ALL SUFFERING IN NUEVA ESPERANZA! When that wasn’t how things were unfolding, I didn’t know what to do. And more than anything I just wanted to BE there. I wanted to be hearing the kids’ stories and breaking up fights and teaching them stepping routines and being a consistent person in their lives. But I have many, many other responsibilities. A month or so ago, Sean had a sit down with me in which he said that he knows how much I want to be there but if I really want to make a difference in the lives of these kids I need to form a plan. Ugh, totally right. So, I’ve spent a lot of time since then thinking about how I really need to start coming up with a plan. And thinking about it. And thinking some more. I guess I should actually call it daydreaming because my thoughts were completely without direction!
The jump start that I needed has finally come – I recently gave a tour to a small Heart to Honduras group and one of the guys, Keith, was greatly moved by his experience there. And thankfully, Keith seems to be more of doer than a thinker! The goal is to have groups of Honduran volunteers visiting the orphanage one day every week to teach VBS, play with and get to know the kids. This will hopefully start in September. I visited yesterday with a Pastor from Choloma, Honduras and he and his wife were shocked by the scarcity of resources and the fact that the kids are kept in their rooms for hours during the day instead of being outside playing. Their response was “When can we start?” It’s so encouraging to see a need and immediately know that they want to be part of meeting it. Please pray for us as we talk to other Pastors about getting their church involved in the center. I want to continue bringing groups of North Americans whenever I can but the reality is that these kids need to have some people consistently coming back and forming relationships with them. And that can only happen with Hondurans!
Some photos of recent happenings:
The 2nd week of July brought 2 amazing blessings. Debby Skidmore and Megan Elliot, girls I graduated with from Malone came here for 2 weeks to work with the kids. I've talked to Debby once since graduation - Megan not at all. Megan and I became Facebook friends in June. She read this blog and sent me a message saying "This may be crazy, but I want to come." A month later I was picking her and Debby up from the airport! Totally amazing. We had such a great time reconnecting and serving together. It's amazing how you can lose touch with people for 5 years, then pick right up where you left off. Such a blessing. Debby and Megan - Thank you so much for coming!!!!
Day of the Indian:
And now for Richar
Monday, May 10, 2010
Before last week, Sean and I had been to the Nueva Esperanza orphanage twice, but only for fairly quick tours. It´s amazing how you start to see the heart of the matter when you spend consecutive days there. The first day and a half we spent nearly all of our time with the babies. There are roughly 25 babies and severly handicapped children in this room. The bottom line is that the workers are taking care of the basic needs of these children and have no time for loving, bonding or cognitive development. We tried to give the kids some much needed one on one attention and cuddle time, along with singing to them and playing games. Potentially my favorite moment was when I was holding a child (probably about 1 year old or a little younger) and I just stared into his eyes and he stared back. He would switch between staring at me and searching my entire face, just taking it all in. Here are some of our favorite pictures.
This was Sean's cling on all week. She is an adorable little girl, but only smiled a handful of times while we were there. Sean got her to warm up a little, but only after a LOT of loving.
The best part about this picture is the kid in the back. What exactly was going through his mind when we took this picture!
This is Cynthia Gabriella - a.k.a. Princess. If Deanna could adopt, this child would be heading to the States!
Edna and Deanna holding some of the youngest.
This was our all time favorite picture of the week. Edna just gave this little girl's hair a trim. It looks like she's not too sure about her new look. Then we have Cynthia Gabriella in the back with her gigantic eyes thinking Oh, no!!! Am I next???
This is where our time at the orphanage got really hard. I debated on how detailed I should get with this story, but Sean said that I should tell it all, so here goes. This might be hard to read, but I do believe this child deserves for his story to be known. It´s very detailed, but I don´t want to forget a moment of it.
This is Richard.
His sweet smile and the hell that he lives in has really rocked my world. Whenever I let my mind wander, I always come back to him and to what we experienced last week. Tuesday afternoon was the first day that we did much with the older kids at this orphanage. After lunch we bought some watermelon and wanted to give all the kids a piece. As Edna and Deanna were cutting the melons, Sean and I were in the cafeteria with the boys (ages 5-12). It was incredible chaos. I noticed 2 boys fighting and went to break it up. One of the boys was Richard. He was crying and the boy he was fighting with was laughing. I seperated them and tried to get Richard to talk to me, but he was crying too hard. Other boys kept coming up and were pushing him or taunting him as I tried to talk. So I just became his protector during the watermelon ordeal and made sure the kids stayed away from him more or less. Later in the day, I was talking to two girls when another fight broke out. Again, it was Richard, with another boy. The female employee was standing a few feet away doing absolutely nothing. I asked her why she wasn´t doing anything. She said that she doesn´t want to get hit. I asked if I could do something. She said I´d get hit too, but that I could. I grabbed Richard and pulled him away. He struggled for a while, got away from me and ran outside onto the gravel driveway. He then started throwing rocks at people in the building. At this point 4 of the older boys came strutting down the stairs and across the courtyard. I wish that I could describe the way they looked. The image is burned into my brain. You could tell that this was not the first time they have been called upon to take care of Richard and you could tell they reveled in the power they had been given. Each of them grabbed either an arm or a leg and started dragging Richard upstairs to the boys room as he struggled with all his might. I followed closely to make sure they didn´t pull a limb out of its socket or bash his head on the floor. A crowd of boys was following throwing things at him as well. We got to the boys room and I thought they were just going to lock him in there to calm down. Nope. They were going to force him to calm down. They were shoving him against the wall. Pushing him down and sitting on him. Hitting him. At this time we had about 12 other boys in the room joining in on the fun. I couldn´t take it anymore and asked the worker if we could have all the kids leave. As they were all leaving Sean came into the room with me. The worker left with the kids and locked the three of us into the room. Richard was crying and yelling so hard and loudly and he was tearing the cloth covering of one of the mattresses. I held his hands to try and make him stop. He then took his shirt off and proceeded to shred the shirt into tiny pieces. Sobbing and yelling the whole time. Sean and I just sat next to him as he yelled "I want my mommy!" "I don´t want to be here!" "God help me!" After about 30 minutes the worker brought him dinner, but the rest of the boys filed in as well. We sat near him and made sure that no one took his food as he ate. Then he went off by himself and laid down on a bed. It killed me to leave him that night, knowing that there´s a good chance all of this was going to happen again.
I saw him again on Wednesday. We talked for a while. He had two shots that morning and he definitely seemed calmer. I talked to some of the girls about him the day before and they said that Richard doesn´t have friends because he is crazy and he had the devil living inside him. It absolutely kills me that he is growing up believing this. I definitely think that he has many issues, but I did not see a crazy child. I see a child who is DAILY being abused by his peers and has absolutely no power to stop it. He tries to fight back, but he hasn´t hardened himself enough yet to fight ruthlessly and without emotion. Therefore, he is an easy target for these boys who need to constantly prove that they are tough (in hopes that others won´t mess with them.)
During our conversation on Wednesday I also learned more about his story. (I am hoping to go back again on Thursday this week with a truly bilingual person so I can make sure that I fully understood him.) He was born in Veracruz, Mexico. When he was four, his family decided to illegally travel to the States by riding on the tops of trains. This is dangerous for healthy, athletic, 20 something men, much less a family with small children. Click here for more info about the trains. At some point in the trip, he was seperated from his family. The government couldn´t find his family so he spent time in an orphanage in Mexico. Then he was adopted by a Honduran family. They fell on hard economic times and gave him back to the Honduran government. Can you imagine if this is true?? Can you imagine having a poor, but loving family that you are seperated from, then grow up in this absolute hell??? He gave me the full names of his parents, uncle and brother. If anyone has any idea how to go about searching for this family I could really use some guidance.
And now the question for us is what are we going to do? I saved some of the rocks the boys were throwing at Richard because I do not want to forget and go back to life as usual. Have you ever read Lord of the Flies? This is that book brought to life. And we kept being reminded that these are children! On Wednesday, Sean and I were hanging out with them and they were showing us all of their gang signs. One of them reminded me of glasses, so I turned the gang sign upside down with my fingers and made "glasses" over my eyes. The next moment all these tough, violent boys were ALL making sunglasses as well. One person I´ve talked to about this said we need to get this place shut down. But if we shut it down, they are just going to go to some other overcrowded, underfunded place. Also, Sean and I kind of have free reign in that building. The director trusts us and allows us to come whenever we want. I don´t want to have these doors closed on us so that we don´t even have access to the kids at all. So, we are going to be rallying the troops here. We´ll be trying to gather as much information as possible about adoption options, hiring more staff, training the staff, moving some of the boys (Richard!) and babies to other, less overwhelmed locations. I am open to suggestions, information or expertise that any of you may have. Uncle Larry - how do I track down Richard´s parents? EZ - do you know how to find information about immigration/adoption laws in Honduras? And once again, for anyone that has even an inkling of a desire to come down here, there is a need, and no matter what skills you have, they are needed here. And for everyone else - please pray for these children. Pray until you can´t anymore, then keep going. And pray that this stays at the forefront of Sean´s and my mind. We want to move a mountain here, and it´s really easy for doubts to creep in about whether or not that mountain can really be moved.