Boy sitting on a rubbish heap

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and a dangerous place for children. It has one of the world’s highest murder rates and gangs terrorise communities across the country.

More than half of the population lives in poverty and per capita income is one of the lowest in this area of the world. Poverty rates are highest amongst rural and indigenous people and are dependent on educational development. Unfortunately, access to quality education is very low.

Poor families in Honduras are deprived of regular nutrition, access to water and sanitation, education, healthcare and hygiene. The youngest members of the family are most vulnerable to gang violence and many families live like this on the municipal rubbish dumps of the cities.

 

Young girl sitting in a basic shack

The Covid-19 pandemic has further undermined the fate of these families. The informal jobs on which they relied have disappeared and schools have closed, depriving vulnerable youngers of these vital interventions.

With pandemic lockdowns and curfews in place safety threats in the homes of the most deprived have also increased particularly for women and girls.

The country is also exposed to adverse climate change events and extreme weather. The 2020 hurricane season was one of the worst in history and destroyed homes and livelihoods.

To help these desperate communities, at the request of the Honduran government, the Sisters of Mary set up their first programme in Honduras in 2011. With the gift of land in Tegucigalpa, the first programme was a school for girls established in 2012. The school for boys followed in 2017 and is located in Amarateca.

 

Class shot of new starters sitting on the steps of the school
New girls welcomed into school January 2019

The girlstown and boystown schools provide full-time live in care and accommodation for the most deprived youngsters in Honduras aged 11-18. These youngsters come to the attention of the Sisters in their outreach and community work. Where we are able to fund school places the new children are welcomed each January.

Demand for places far exceeds supply but in 2021 we were able to care for 1356 children,

The children enjoy regular meals and all the comforts of a proper childhood. They make friends, play and have a full academic and vocational education programme accredited by the Honduran education ministry. They learn all the skills they need to change their lives and find good jobs when they leave school so they can support themselves and help their families out of poverty.