Below is an account of the visit by John Graham, UK trustee to visit the Sisters of Mary Boystown and Girlstowns in Honduras to celebrate the inauguration of the new boys school building in Amarateca on 17th Jan 2020.
We arrived into Girlstown in Honduras mid-afternoon on Thursday 16th January, we would be staying at the school for the duration of our visit. We received a wonderful welcome from the girls' saxaphone group. After getting settled and having dinner we were treated to a display of dancing and music by the girls in the gymnasium. It was such a warm and wonderful welcome, I was overwhelmed by the children and the sisters and thanked Sister Liliana (local superior in charge of the school) sincerely for their kindness in welcoming us to their school. My first impressions of the school are that it is very securely organised to protect the children from the dangers that exist in this country from crime. Within the school, these poorest children from around Honduras are able to enjoy a safe haven, a world class education and a sense of community that they will take with them into the world to improve it and of course themselves.
Today (17th January) is the official opening of the new building at the boys school in Amarateca with the First Lady of Honduras, Ana García Carías, the guest of honour.
Boys and Girls from the schools in Honduras outside the new school building in Amarateca
Sister Maria Cho, Chair of World Villages for Children and Superior General of the Sisters of Mary was also here to open the school alongside other dignitaries. The new building which has been funded by our generous donors around the world will provide 320 more deprived boys with the chance to be housed and educated at this wonderful school. New boys come to the school underdeveloped and malnourished. It is a real blessing to be a able to expand the school and to be able to provide safety, proper nutrition and education for more of these vulnerable children. In the evening, I was privileged to be able to hear the girls at choral practice, arts are a vital part of the well rounded education for all the children.
Today we will be visiting some of our childrens' homes to get a better understanding of their early lives of poverty, Many of the poorest children come from rural and remote areas and 4x4 vehicles are a must as many of the tracks are rough and very muddy. Our vehicle became stuck in the mud on the approach to the first home and we were forced to abandon our vehicles and climb two kilometers up a steep and muddy track.The home of Kilber and Ilson, our grade 7 & 8 brothers was perched on the side of a hill. It was constructed of mud, wood & had a corrugated tin roof full of gaping holes. There is no electricity here and water has to be carried a long distance. The poverty is shocking and it is a world away from what these children deserve and what we are able to provide at the school thanks to our donors. The two boys were able to join our school in Amarateca last year. Their mother and father tragically drowned when the boys were 3 and 4 years old and when the Sisters first met the boys they were dangerously malnourished, labouring long hours to earn money by harvesting coffee and living in the care of their very elderly grandmother.
During our journey to the next home our vehicle got stuck in the thick mud and whilst we were able to extract ourselves we felt it wiser to continue on foot for the remaining kilometre. This second home of Cinthya Roquel is on a coffee plantation where there is some seasonal work availible for the family for a very meagre wage. The family here are more lucky with access to water & electricity but the home is still of a very basic construction on a muddy bank. There is little chance of an education for these children without intervention. Seeing the isolated areas that these children come from is such a contrast with the hustle and bustle of the schools that I am amazed how well the children assimilate into the busy school life but the children are desperate for a new chance and treasure the opportunities we are able to provide.
Kilber & Ilson with their Grandmother
Kilber & Ilson at school
It's Sunday and I've been fortunate enough to meet with two graduates from the Sisters of Mary girlstown in Tecugicalpa; Eva who is currently studying Agriculture at Zamorano University with a full scholarship and Bertha who is currently attending Catholica de Honduras University. It was fantastic speaking with these two young women who had come from such poverty and adversity but who, with the help of our donors, have been able to benefit from a place at the school and transform their lives.They now study at some of the most prestigious universities in Honduras. Their future looks to be a bright one that will benefit not only them but their family and wider community. We also got the chance to visit the Boystown today.On Sundays it's a hive of activity with the sports facilities full and informal games being played on the grounds as the children enjoy some of the day as freetime. The facilities availible at the Boystown and Girlstown were full to bursting showing the desperate need for more space!
Today is the last day in Honduras, before leaving we spent some time in class with the students studying subjects ranging from Civil law to English to computing. The curriculum is varied and comprehensive in order to give our students the best chance at getting reliable and well paid employment locally.
Although my time here has been relatively short, I have seen so much and been so inspired by the vital work that we do for all these poor children. Without us these children are resigned to a life of poverty without any chance for an education or a way to better their life.
Trustee & Treasurer