Sunday, December 19, 2010

Good news, bad news then awesome news...

I'll start this blog with a wonderful update on the Proniño Christmas sponsorship. As of December 12th, ALL of the kids are sponsored! (That's 3 days before the cutoff date.) And there were at least 10 other people that were planning on sponsoring a child, but they had already been snapped up. Thank you to everyone that sponsored a child, wanted to sponsor a child or just wanted to talk to me about these kids. I never get tired of it. =) And for everyone that sponsored, I'll be coming back with pictures and videos for you in January. So fun!

But there was something else going on at the same time that I didn't want to blog about because it was so opposite the joys of the sponsorship program. In the first week of December my very worst fear happened. Richar ran away, along with Edgar and 2 other boys I don't know very well. I couldn't believe it. And I felt so helpless being here in the States. The first day I was in a bit of a fog. I think I spent a lot of time staring at the computer screen. The second day I got mad at them for making poor decisions. Mad at Edgar because I took him off the streets less than two months ago!! I just didn't understand how he could forget how much he hates the streets so quickly. And mad at Richar for putting me through the emotional ringer. It's a selfish reason, I know. The third day I emailed everyone I know in Honduras asking them to look for the kids and telling them where they might be able to find them. And then I just waited and prayed and hoped and hoped that I'd get an email telling me that they had been found. There were some encouraging moments - like when the Rink family in Texas decided to sponsor Edgar for Christmas even though they knew he wasn't at the home. They decided they were going to pray for him to be safely returned to Pronino by Christmas and they wanted to make sure that he had some gifts waiting there for him. So awesome. But in general, I was spending a lot of time worrying. Worrying that they were hungry, cold, would turn to drugs and that I'd never see them again.

Two weeks after they ran, they were found outside of a grocery store in San Pedro by the efforts of a few amazing Pronino employees that drove around and around and around the neighborhood trying to track them down. I finally got that email I'd been waiting for - telling me they're safe and spent the next hour jumping around the house and calling people to share the wonderful news. I'm heading to Honduras in less than two weeks and am so excited that I'll be able to see them, but there is this nagging voice in my head saying "It's probably going to happen again."

So many people have asked me why the kids run away. And I really wish I knew the answer. All I have are lots of theories. So, I thought I would share them with you and maybe we can get a discussion going. I would love to hear other people's insights. My number one theory is that the kids make decisions based on how they are feeling right now. Pronino is a home full of street smart pre-teen and teenage boys and they tend to resolve problems with their fists as opposed to talking about their feelings. I think that when they are mad or upset they just want to remove themselves from the situation. So they leave. I think Richar is a perfect example of this. When he's angry, his anger takes over everything and rational thought just goes out the window. There is no thought of what am I going to eat tonight? or where am I going to sleep? It's just a thought of I don't want to be bothered anymore!

Theory #2 is a desire for adventure. Things can get pretty dull when you eat, sleep and play in the same building all day every day. And the first day on the street, going wherever you want, doing whatever you want, is probably appealing at times. Once again - very little thought about the day after or the day after that. I think Edgar would definitely fall into that category. He's bored and sick of the kids making fun of him (the back of his head's pretty flat and some of the kids like to pretend that it's a landing strip, which Edgar really doesn't like) and someone whispers a plan to run away. I could see him being down for that.

Theory #3 is that they want to return to their families. Many of the kids have parents and siblings and some live nearby. And absence makes the heart grow fonder. No matter how bad things were with the family, it's still family. It's your identity, your roots. And that desire to be loved and cared for by your parents doesn't go away. And no matter how much we tell them that they have the opportunity for a good future by going to school and getting an education and that their parents will make them beg on the streets or sell vegetables from a cart for pennies, they aren't at the stage developmentally that they can really make a good decision. One of the boys that had run away 3 times in the 4 months I was able to go regularly kept leaving to find his mom. I talked to him one day after he had been found and returned and asked him what he was going to do when he was 30. He looked at me with shocked eyes and repeated incredulously "30?!?!" That's when it really hit me that it's hard to think that far ahead. And not just for "these kids". Few 12 year olds in any country could consistently make good life decisions! He just wants his mom.

So what's the answer? This is the part where someone reading this writes a comment and solves everything. Please. I don't know that we'll ever have an answer that works 100% of the time. But I have a theory for this, too. =) We keep going out, looking for them and bringing them back. It's like the parable of the lost sheep. One is missing, so we leave the rest and search high and low for that little sheep until he's back with the flock. Show them that even if their family isn't going to fight for them, someone is. And even though they don't fully understand it, keep telling them that there is a future for them and they deserve to be given a chance, sometimes over and over again. And there are stories of kids that were so unstable, kept running away, kept being brought back, then stabilized. There's an amazing kid in Pronino that was on the streets, addicted to crack at age 10. He was brought to Pronino, then ran away. A worker found him on the street again, but he wasn't willing to return. Finally, he was convinced to come back and now he's drug free and in school. And he's so smart! Someone told me that the kids call him the scientist because he's so inquisitive and always wanting to learn. Can you imagine what would've happened to him if people weren't persistent in bringing him back?

So I fear that they'll run again, but I also hope that with some persistence, this will become their home, even if it's not the one they would've chosen!

Only 9 more days til I can see this wonderful child again!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A few more featured kids

Thank you so much to everyone who has already sponsored a Proniño kid! In 4 days you've sponsored 18 kids. AND I've had the chance to talk to a few people that I haven't talked to in YEARS! So, there's so much that I love about this. I love helping the boys have a wonderful Christmas. I love getting to talk about them so much. And I love reconnecting. The only thing that hasn't happened so far is I haven't had a stranger interested in sponsoring. Any strangers reading this blog right now???

The 2 boys that I featured in the last blog have been sponsored so I thought I'd feature a few more! There are some up and coming superstars in Amor y Paz (Love and Peace).

This is Oscar Giovanni, 14 and Denis Gabriel, 14. These are two very creative kids. They put their heads together and wrote a song, then they had the opportunity to go to a studio in El Progreso and record it. Click here to watch them perform at a local talent show. It's not the GREATEST video ever, but hey I'm an amateur!

And the kids in Proniño love this song so most of them have it memorized from start to finish. So here you can watch some of the cuties singing it acapela! Some of the kids in this video that haven't been sponsored yet ....

Porfirio, 13 Lead singer #2 in the video
Porfirio is usually my sidekick. He's one of the most kindhearted kids in Proniño. He has a few younger sisters that are in another home that he's able to visit sometimes (one of the awesome things about Proniño - they encourage and facilitate visits with family members) and the love he has for them is so touching. He's convinced that he's going to be able to go back to his mom by the time I get back in January. And he wants this so badly that I want it for him too, but man am I going to miss his huge smile and big hugs if he's not there when I return!

Wilmer, 12 camaflouge pants in the video
There are two Wilmers in Proniño. Kevin, the street outreach worker, is close to the older Wilmer, but this guy is MY Wilmer. When he smiles he gets these wrinkles around his eyes that will just melt your heart. I'm really good at telling the kids no when they ask for things. Can I have a sucker? No. Can you buy me an MP3 player? No. But at least twice I ended up bringing snacks or candy for all the boys because somehow Wilmer got me to agree to bring something for him. But I try hard not to bring gifts for only ONE boy because I don't want to leave anyone out so I had to bring it for all. Even with Richard - I didn't bring anything specifically for him until my very last day! But somehow, this one kept charming his way into candy and snacks for himself which meant for the entire center!

Roger, 13 background face maker in the video
This is mi payaso (my clown). I blogged about him a little bit in August. We first met when he was living in Nueva Esperanza. One day in June I noticed that he was missing and they told me he had run away. He was the first kid that I knew of that ran away. And he was the first kid that I worried and worried and worried about. UNTIL I found a picture of him on Proniño's website along with a story about how he was found! Click here to read that story on Kevin's blog. If you sponsor him I guarantee I'll come back with a video for you...

And finally Deybi, 8 made a cameo in the video wrestling with Wilmer
Kind of anti-climactic but I don't know him very well. But he's super cute!

So, if you want to bless these kids with an awesome Christmas for only $25 go to and click the donate tab under the photo of the child, or children you want to donate to. Make sure that you specify which child (or children) you want to sponsor! And then let me know who you chose because I'll bring back photos or videos of your child in January.


Monday, December 6, 2010

An opportunity for Navidad

I think this may be my first ever short blog. Thought I'd mix things up a bit. =) In my last blog I listed some ways that you could get involved and help these kids from the States. One of the ways was to make a wish come true by helping out with Christmas gifts. Well, Proniño has set up a very easy way for you to make that happen! A donation of $25 will cover the cost of their Christmas gifts. I've been sitting here trying to think of something that costs $25 to put things in perspective, but nothing catchy is coming to mind. Umm, for the cost of 5 drinks at Starbucks! Or for the cost of 2 books! 25 songs on itunes? Anyway, for $25 you can make a kid feel special! If you click here you can see all of the Proniño kids and choose your child. Maybe you want to choose them because they look like someone you know, or because their name is similar to yours - come on Richard, you know you want to sponsor Rigo. Or you can contact me and I can tell you more about most of the kids - because giving is always more fun when you know a little something about who you're giving to. For instance, there's

Christian Noe.
I have a ton of respect for this kid. Tempers can flare quite easily, but every time I see him, he's getting in between the ones that are about to fight and trying to distract them with some humor. Just such a good kid. And he's an aspiring magician and breakdancer. This video is just bonus...

If you have seen my wrists lately you'll see 2 exquisite bracelets compliments of the handiwork of Derrick. Who knows, if you sponsor his Christmas I may have a bracelet for you when I return in January!

My hope is that I'll be able to get 30 of these kids sponsored before December 15th. If you decide to sponsor a child, please let me know so I can update my goal! And please let me know if you have any questions!

I have 3 so far. 27 more to go!

And I can bring pictures or videos back from my trip in January so you can keep connected with them. =)