On September 10th I will be attending university where I will be studying Business Administration thanks to a wonderful woman named Jessica Rubinstein. You can never imagine how wonderful God is and how he sends special people to change your life.
I thank God, Esperanza, Emily and her family, Jessica Rubinstein, and my family for supporting me, and making my dream possible! I’ll be thankful for my entire life with all these special people and make them proud of me!
Esperanza is certainly proud of Daniela who embraces education and has been on the honor roll every year. We’re thankful for Jessica Rubinstein who has been one of Esperanza’s greatest supporters over the years. Daniela, we’re wishing you all the best as you embark on this new adventure.
Fourteen year old Astrid is a week away from completing her first year boarding at Fay School in Southborough, MA. It was one year ago when the opportunity to attend this prestigious school lay in peril because Astrid’s student visa was being denied. Thankfully, with great support from many, including local politicians, Astrid’s application was approved.
It absolutely amazes me how adaptable Astrid has been transitioning from living at home in Honduras to sharing a dorm room with roommates from China and Japan. She has embraced the opportunity of befriending people from many countries, and she is loved by her peers. Although most of her classmates come from very wealthy families, Astrid remains very proud of her family and their modest means.
Astrid is not only ambitious about her education, she is very philosophical about her future. Recently she explained the career choices she aspired to not only determined by her interests but for the ability to positively impact her family. Sincerely she stated, “we can’t be dependent on others “to survive in the impoverished country, we have to want to work our way out.
Not only has Astrid thrived in her new academic environment and acclimated back and forth between the first and third worlds, she has courageously faced her medical needs. In March Astrid had extensive reconstructive surgery on her left foot and was in a cast for 12 weeks. Learning to navigate campus and having to rely on others for help was a challenge for her.
Astrid is truly one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. As William Shakespeare stated, “though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Honduras is divided into 18 different departments, each with it’s own governor. In 10 out of 18 departments, 90% of students must repeat a grade in primary school. There are numerous reasons why this happens including illness, having to leave school to help bring income into the home, or families lacking the funds for the uniform or books. The average time to complete sixth grade is 9.4 years. Only 30% of students attend high school.
“Yeni” and “Pancho” both fell within the statistics of students who had to drop out of school. They come from loving families who value education but their situations in life didn’t allow them the opportunity. Yeni had completed primary school but needed to leave school to work and help support her family. Pancho was diagnosed with brain cancer and the priority for him became receiving medical treatment.
Two of Esperanza’s generous supporters, Suzanne Giles and Jeanne DeSanto have befriended these students and are changing their lives by offering them the gift of an education. They’re now enrolled in a private school and afforded the opportunity to pursue their dreams of attending school and allowing them to dream for a brighter future, for themselves and their families.
Whether you would like to be directly involved with an individual or offer assistance to the community at large, Esperanza has various ways to be involved. 100% of your donations will be directly given to those in need.
Thank you for the lives you’ve changed and those who will be changed in the future.
Our mission has always been to help improve the lives of children living in Honduras, but how we do that is by providing opportunities. For those of us who have opportunities readily available, it’s easy to take them for granted. However, when opportunities are hard to come by, it’s all you can think about.
The opportunities that we are able to help bring to Honduras are only made possible by the generous donations made to our organization each year. This Giving Tuesday please consider donating to Esperanza – Hope For The Children, Inc. and you can provide…
The opportunity to go to school:
The opportunity to play:
The opportunity to drink clean water:
The opportunity to live a long and healthy life:
100% of all the money we receive goes directly to helping the people of Honduras. If there is a specific opportunity you’d like to help make possible, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can figure out a way to bring it to life. We really appreciate your support and generosity!
Last week Astrid Ordonez and I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Tristan Takos, Constituent Service Director for Senator Ed Markey and Mr. Gilbert Calderin, Immigration Caseworker for Senator Elizabeth Warren.
This past June Astrid had an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras to apply for a F-1 (student) visa. Unfortunately, her application was denied and the opportunity to attend the prestigious Fay School in Southborough, MA was in peril. Astrid had successfully passed the TOEFL and SSAT exams, completed her interview and written application, been accepted and granted a large financial scholarship, and had received the additional financial commitment to offset her tuition costs. The thought of her losing this opportunity and crushing her dreams for a brighter future was heartbreaking.
Esperanza-Hope for the Children, Inc. had successfully obtained B1/B2 (medical visas) for several patients but this was the first time we were involved with a student visa. There was no time to waste with school starting in 10 weeks and so I immersed myself in the political process and began networking in the Boston area and Honduras. After contacting the Visa Chief in Tegucigalpa he agreed to have the same Office Consular conduct a phone interview with both Astrid and her mother. Once again, Astrid’s application was denied under Section 214 (b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.
Many people took interest and became involved with Astrid’s journey as we solicited the U.S. Embassy to learn what additional documentation was needed to obtain approval. Our friends, Heidi Black reached out to Senator Markey’s office and Bob Burbidge contacted Senator Warren and Congresswoman Katherine Clark’s offices. My college classmate Kate Brandeis, a former U.S. Officer Consular, advised and enlightened me about the application process.
All perspective students must demonstrate their strong ties oversees and that they will return to their foreign countries, but this would prove more challenging for Astrid. Unlike her other perspective classmates who would be returning to their wealthy homes, Astrid would be returning to the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. As she was in the midst of applying, thousands of Hondurans were fleeing violence and corruption and attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. The daily news was filled with images of families being separated at the Mexican border.
My frustration built as I struggled with all the obstacles and set backs of helping someone apply legally. Not only was I thinking of Astrid, I thought of all the others who were desperately in need of assistance, many fleeing violence or starvation without the support of somebody advocating for them.
Fortunately, Astrid received another appointment at the U.S. Embassy on July 16, 2018. In preparation for the appointment, Tristan Takos communicated with Gil Calderin and Ms. Katie Worley, Constituent Services Representative and Immigration Coordinator for Congresswoman Katherine Clark. They all felt Astrid had a compelling story and decided to take the unusual approach to write a joint letter of support. Rick Lania coordinated the additional letters from Esperanza, Fay School, Charles Morrison (financial supporter), and Shriner’s Hospital for Children. In addition, he provided legal and school documentation and compelling photos of Astrid’s ties to her family and community.
Thankfully, persistence paid off and Astrid was granted a student visa and has now settled in smoothly at Fay School. I reflect on Fay’s application essay about everyone experiencing obstacles in life, facing challenges, and explaining what you learned. Astrid described her physical challenges and said, “I have not let this obstacle stop me and I won’t let other ones either.” Now she has first hand knowledge of the obstacles immigrants endure and it will be interesting to watch her put those experiences into action.
It was an emotional experience meeting Tristan and Gil and listening to Astrid describe how her life has been changed and her mother “doesn’t have to worry about her safety now that she is here.” She proudly pinned them with flags of the U.S. and Honduras. Our hope is for other children to have this same opportunity.
Congratulations to Astrid Ordonez for being accepted into the 7th grade class of the Fay School in Southborough, MA. Astrid has “demonstrated the qualities Fay seeks in the admissions process including academic excellence; honorable conduct; dedicated service; earnest effort; and wellness of the mind, body and spirit.” This is a huge accomplishment for any student applying to this prestigious boarding school but Astrid has overcome insurmountable obstacles to earn this honor.
Astrid, born in Honduras, into a life of poverty where education is not a “given” and often considered a privilege. Only 64% of students attend school past the sixth grade due to economic hardship. Although her family lacks financial resources, they have qualities money doesn’t provide…commitment and drive. Astrid’s mother, Angelina, is an intelligent woman who values education. Although she wasn’t able to attend school past the 6th grade, she has ingrained the importance and supported Astrid in her pursuit of learning.
Astrid has been attending a bilingual school in Comayagua since kindergarten. Marantha Adventist Bilingual School offers a very challenging curriculum and many of the teachers have been important role models in Astrid’s life. One teacher in particular, Ms. Mayla Ebanks, has been a part of Astrid’s journey since she taught her in 2nd grade and now as Primary School Coordinator was the person responsible for obtaining all of her transcripts and recommendations for the Fay School. Ms. Mayla knew Astrid was an academic standout from a very young age and couldn’t be more proud of her acceptance to a middle school in the United States, an accomplishment never previously done.
It has been a pleasure witnessing Astrid’s growth emotionally, physically and academically since she first arrived in our house at age two. Astrid was born with some physical problems but never complained. Instead, she focused on the bright side and knows being born this way is what led her to us and the opportunity to travel to the United States for medical care.
Since then, she has been welcomed into the home of Charlie and Nancy Morrison (and family) who have not only showered her with love and attention but shared their value of the importance of education, and financially supporting Astrid’s. This opportunity of a lifetime (and dream come true for Astrid) to attend Fay would not be possible without them.
Along with the Morrisons, many other family members and friends have welcomed Astrid into their lives. We’re thankful they’ll continue to be a part of her support system as she straddles her two worlds, moving from an impoverished village to a wealthy community. She’s managed this well over the years but we know this will be more intense because adolescence is naturally a time of self discovery and she will be dealing with many significant changes. We are confident Fay School will provide the academic, social and emotional support needed. And now it’s time to free her potential and watch her “fly”.