A group of boys holding guitars in a group

Exclusive updates with the Sisters of Mary programmes in Honduras

Through February and into March we have been privileged to receive updates from the Sisters of Mary schools in Honduras. During the early part of the year the Sisters have been busy welcoming new children and helping the youngest and most vulnerable to settle into their new life at school. It is a joyful but sometimes challenging time. The region’s most deprived children require considerable support. However, the dedication and love of the Sisters helps the youngsters to adjust and to flourish in their new life.

On the 23 February we spoke with Sr Liliana from Amarateca, Boystown, Honduras. This call was a wonderful opportunity to catch up on the news of the children. It was particularly good to hear about the progress of Marvin and Dennis, two youngsters who we met last year. Marvin was new to the school last year. He has struggled to adjust to his new life and his lessons but he is now thriving and enjoying everything school has to offer. He particularly loves singing and is an active member of the Rondalla Band.

boy in welding safety gear in a workshop

Lives transformed

Dennis, who was a final year student when we met him last year has now completed his time at school. He has secured a position in the local Mayor’s office working in an IT role. Thanks to the support of our donors, his life is completely transformed and he is already helping his family onto a better life.

Securing sustainable employment

From the school, over 54% of the boys who finished in December 2023 have already secured good jobs.  Welding is a particular popular career for the boys. There are numerous employers for boys with these skills and they know the boys are reliable, capable and well-educated. The employers also provide food and a place to live for each of the boys in their employment. This is a vital new start to a better life for these youngsters.

group of boys waving
New boys arriving in January 2024, Amarateca

Passion for education

221 new young grade 7 boys were welcomed into school in January 2024.  This year’s new boys are already doing well in their lessons, they are keen to learn more and love their vocational training – time in the workshops is what they enjoy the most.

Outside of the classroom they love sport (football in particular) and gardening. They are helping the Sisters to harvest corn, beans, and fruit from trees – avocado, mango, passionfruit, and to rear the new chickens which were a gift from a donor on their small plot of land. This not only teaches them vital new skills but it really helps the Sisters to manage the ever growing bill for food.

Health challenges

This year, many new boys arrived particularly malnourished, thin and small for their age. The three regular meals each day, including the vitamins at Easter, are essential to build up their strength and help them flourish at school. Of more concern this year, however, is the dental care needed by so many of the boys whose teeth have suffered greatly with their poor diet in their early years. This need was also echoed by the Sisters at the girls school in Tegucigalpa.

A group of girls holding stuffed toys

Girlstown, Tegucigalpa

On 7 March we spoke to Sr Maria Goretti and Sr Leah from Tegucigalpa Girlstown, Honduras. The months of January and February have been spent welcoming new girls to the school.

Addressing lost learning

166 new girls were welcomed in January and are settling into their new life at school. These girls, who the Sisters met last year, are behind their academic years for education. Many of them only know their local dialect and so have problems in communicating in Spanish, their national language. They often cannot understand their teachers or their new classmates. The first priority is to provide additional language tuition for these children.

Now that the girls have received two months of extra tuition they are beginning to learn quickly and they are excited for their new lessons.

young girl with her grandmother
Darely with her grandmother arriving at the Sisters of Mary school, Tegucigalpa

Overcoming difficult early lives

With the love and dedication of the Sisters, the new girls are starting to recover and grow strong. They have a number of challenges to overcome, many come from fragmented family backgrounds and experience a great deal of violence and confusion in their upbringing.

The place with the Sisters at our school is a chance to build new friendships, find comfort, security and support and begin to look forward to a better life.

Darely’s story

The Sisters spoke of a particularly poignant story of one new student, Darely, whose  13 year old twin is already a mother, and living in desperate poverty. Now that Darely is at school with us she is providing hope for a better future for all the family, including her twin sister.

Girls football team winning trophy
The Tegucigalpa girls winning the trophy

Life at school

Inside the classroom the new girls were thrilled to start learning their full timetable of academic subjects in January. Towards the end of their time at school, the older girls were overjoyed to test themselves against their peers and won second place in the National Physics Olympiad last year. In their vocational classes the girls now learn dressmaking, computers, robotics, electronics, programming (STEM), bread and pastry production and mechatronics.  There are jobs for girls with these skills and certificates in these subjects.

Outside of the classroom

The girls continue to flourish in their sports and hobbies. The older girls represented Honduras and beat teams from throughout central America to win 1st place in soccer for the school and the country.

The Sisters in Tegucigalpa continue to manage the programmes effectively and ensure every ounce of your support goes a long way in the care of the children. However, they are experiencing urgent needs including emergency firefighting equipment to keep the school safe and also the cost of specific foods. As with the boys school, food prices have risen over the last year. Potato prices in particular have tripled. The Sisters and children are growing more and more of their own food at the school to supplement the food budget. Providing a balanced diet for these children is an essential part of our mission and thus a focus for our fundraising in 2024.

Dental examination
Young girl in Tegucigalpa having a dental xray

Urgent needs

Like the boys, the new girls exhibit some significant health problems in their early days at school. From their lives of hunger many are thin and malnourished. They are very hungry when they arrive. Adjusting to three regular meals a day is a joy for them but also emotional.

Dental care need

Their most pressing need however, is for dental care. Like the boys in Amarateca, many of the new girls have tooth decay and need remedial help with cleaning and cavity repair and in some cases more intense orthodontic work to replace lost, missing or misshapen teeth. Support for dental equipment and supplies is essential for the future health of the children and a priority for our fundraising this year.