Honduras remains the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 65% of the population living below the poverty line. The government provides public education through the 6th grade, but families are responsible for purchasing uniforms, shoes and books/materials which often prevents children from attending school. Only 51% of the children registered complete primary school.
Esperanza would like to continue fighting poverty through education. During our last trip we were introduced to many children who shared the dream of returning to school. Roxana Nunez, the teacher of a one room school house for grades kindergarten through sixth asked for assistance for two of her students who had recently been orphaned. Struggling in poverty compounded with the loss of both parents felt very hopeless and offered no future. Fortunately, we were able to enroll Natahaly (7) and Mauricion (9) back in her school and also their brother, Jeral (14) into another school. The two older siblings would be expected to work and provide for their family.
One day, little Raul appeared at our front gate. This shoe-less little guy had an adorable smile, and I inquired why he wasn’t in school? He simply said, “we have no money.” Next thing I knew, I was off hand-in-hand to see his house and meet his mother. Although the majority of our village would be considered “poor”, there are certainly degrees, and Raul’s family was near the bottom. Soon I was in their one room home that doesn’t have windows or other basics, listening as his mom described their situation. She was interested in having Raul attend 2nd grade but it wasn’t something she could even consider as she was struggling day to day to buy rice and beans for her family. With her permission, and the assistance of his teacher, Roxana, we were off to the “pulperia” to purchase a uniform, shoes, underwear, books and a backpack for approximately $100.
Word travels fast in Flores…even across the highway, and before I knew it, I had two brothers ( Alex, 10 and Rolando 13) standing at our gate saying, “we heard you put Raul in school, can you help us?” I learned that their family had recently moved to town after their father had an accident and was out of work. Although there are five children in the family, they could only scrape together enough money to send one child to school. I was impressed that this family with limited resources valued education so highly, and agreed to help enroll the boys so they could join their sister.
At the end of this month, Pilgrim Congregational Church in Lexington, MA will be holding their annual book sale. Proceeds from the sale will be given to Esperanza and will be designated to providing financial assistance to future students.