Monday, August 1, 2011

Promise Home Orphanage: Part 1, Nueva Esparansa

I am with a team of engineering students serving the Promise Home orphanage in Toyos, Honduras. Toyos is a little town an hour and a half from San Pedro Sula, the second largest city in Honduras and the home of the state-run Nueva Esparansa (New Hope) center for children.  Nueva Esparansa is where children of the city are taken when they are taken away from their parents. This might be because they are abused, orphaned, abandoned, or simply can't be afforded anymore on account of Papa ran off and now Mama can't feed the whole flock.  It's where the children of drug addicts sometimes are taken, and it's where children with special needs are taken to never return.  It's insultingly underfunded (less than $0.75 per child per day) and devoid of hope, despite its name.

But we are assisting a new private orphanage called Promise Home with infrastructure projects as they prepare a place that can receive kids like these.  My next few posts will be about our work at Promise Home.

[these kids were taking naps on the ceramic tile floor, cool but hard]

[We spent a lot of time in the baby room holding the little ones and giving them some love. Lucy's arms were sore the next day from so much holding.]

[childrens' beds]

I want to make jokes about the name Nueva Esparansa, and how it's the same as episode IV, "A New Hope", otherwise known as the original Star Wars. But this place isn't in a galaxy far far away.  It's here in the real world.  And it's almost hopeless.  So it's not very funny. But I make jokes anyway, because it was so upsetting that jokes help me cope.  I must have issues.

To get to Nueva Esparansa we had to drive through a very poor neighborhood with lots of "squatters" living in make shift housing on par with the ones I have seen Nairobi, though fewer in number.  As we approached the site, we saw a 15 foot concrete wall in which a huge steel door opened for us to drive through. It was reminiscent of the Black Gate of Mordor, but that's yet another movie.  The building was rather new and clean and the workers inside were pleasant and professional.

We were given the tour of the play areas, classrooms, and sleeping quarters, and while the supplies were meager, the thing that really upset me was not the facilities but the fact that this place was needed at all.  In one room we held babies, sometimes two at a time, so they could receive a little more attention than their caretakers could give.  There was a boy with a condition (perhaps muscular dystrophy?) that could not speak. He seemed to spend most of his days sitting on a pad on the floor. He seemed about 12 years old, and my guess is that he is a permanent resident.  He laughed at the funny things the babies did and liked it when I made funny sounds with my mouth. There were also two boys, each 10 years old, that had some type of mental retardation.  They were left in baby cribs almost all of the time. Their diapers were changed while I was there. They are given no training or education, and will also likely never leave.  The special care they require is too expensive, and their chances for adoption are very small.  They have been thrown away.  These boys, more than anything else I saw that day, broke my heart.

My team of students was also touched by their time at Nueva Esparansa, and everyone was remotivated to work hard on our projects for Promise Home.  The next few posts will describe these projects, but this post is meant to illustrate the need of it.

1 comment:

Nancy Pfanner said...

Oh my.... There are no words for this post. Thanks for being on the front line. You make a difference.
Blessings Hermano.