The End, "Before we are a race, a gender, a sexuality, a personality, short, or tall...we are human."--Lauren
It's hard to choose one part of the trip that truly stuck out to me. I wish I could share with you every, single, moment that made me smile...that made me cry. In person, I have yet been able to communicate how I have truly felt. I never have been gifted with the ability to be well spoken or say exactly what I mean but here I will try my best.
Going into this project I had the typical American missionary mindset-I was the American who had come to do something great and was teaching these kids something so valuable. Coming out, I couldn't have been more wrong. Any person in the world could do what I do, if they have the means...it takes a special type of person to teach the type of lessons that the people of Honduras taught me. I learned to trust with all my heart, love is blind, do not hang onto the past, keep your faith, and family doesn't end with blood.
Most of the boys in Flor Azul have no family and rely solely on each other for any type of support-something that each and every boy is willing to give 100%. One boy said a line that I will never forget, "There is Mama Karen...she is my mother." Though this boy has not known her his entire life, he will forever look to her as his mother. When I watched the boys interact with each other they were so protective and helpful, constantly checking up on one another and making sure everyone stood equal and together.
In the village of Campo we met a little boy named Kevin who had down-syndrome. Kids in America with disabilities are often ridiculed and lead a life with very little friendships. Kevin had more friends than anyone else in the village. Every child there treated him as if he was Just Kevin and had no disability. Love to them is absolutely blind. They loved without caring who you were, no matter your gender, no matter your race, no matter your fault or disability. This is something that every person should take with them and live by everyday.
Finally, the past is the past. That is something that I will always remember that the people of Honduras taught me. No matter how bad their lives were before, they got up smiling each day and thanked God that they are here. They thank God that they have food-no matter how little it is. The fact that they don't let what has happened to them reflect on their day-to-day lives shows what kind of people they really are.
In the end, I have to say that in my heart I know it is not truly 'the end'. I will be back to Honduras as soon as I can-returning to the boys, "sitting right there on the front porch." I have learned more than I could ever hope to know and want to spread the love that grew inside me across America and across the world. I thank God that I met so many people who could give me so many great things. Most of all, I thank God for meeting Arturo-who is my godson now. When I left Flor Azul I found that I couldn't cry-we had been having so much fun at the fiesta that it didn't seem real. I remember Arturo telling me that I was a strong person for not crying...and I couldn't help but think that I was never going to be half as strong as he was.
So here is to the friendships that will last a lifetime, the memories that will never fade, to the boy who will forever live (at least in my heart), and to God for giving us the opportunity of a lifetime.
The National Agriculture University in Honduras was easily one of my favorite places that we visited. I loved the people, the agriculture, the campus, everything! As an Agriculture major, I am always excited to see different ways of growing things or raising animals and we got to do just that.
Catacamas is a lovely, tropical region with towering mountains that stand above groves of banana trees and pastures of cattle. It is humid and sticky and humming with noise from frogs and bugs in the trees. The University is huge! The campus has buildings all built in the shape of an "H" for Honduras and the grounds are well kept.
We were able to tour the campus and the surrounding campus farms and I was amazed at the sheer volume of projects that are going on. The vegetable and fruit production farms are efficient and neat. Everything is grown sustainably and recycling is a main focus. The leftover vegetables and fruits are fed to the animals that are being raised on the farms.
The students at the University were eager to learn and all happy to be there. Some students that we talked to have to travel up to 2 days on the bus to get home to their families. Most of them speak some English and many are nearly fluent. They were excited to have us there and everyone went out of their way to show us around.
My favorite part of our entire trip was the horseback riding at one of the University's small farms. I love horses and it's my goal, wherever I am, to find one to at least take a picture with. I was elated that I not only got to pose with horses, but I got to ride!
When it was finally time to go, I was sad. I wanted to see more and do more around the University and region. If I get the chance to go back to see my new friends, I most certainly will!
When I left for Honduras, I had the mindset that I would make an impact on someone's life down there. Little did I know, someone would make such an impact on my life. It wasn't just one person but a combination of everyone there. Everyone down there was so kind. They all have a past but they don;t let that hinder them. They learn to forgive and forget and to live each day to the fullest. You never know when your last day on Earth will be so live each day as a mini-adventure.
I was told that I had a beautiful smile and that I should show it every day. I lived by that in Honduras. I was constantly smiling down there! The scenery is beautiful, the people are beautiful, and the attitudes are beautiful. There was a man we met that had came illegally into the US and worked for a while. He came back to Honduras and said that he was the richest man in the world because he had his family and was able to provide for them. Americans are very materialistic without knowing that they are. I didn't realize how much I relied on my phone until it wouldn't work. I was thankful to be disconnected for a while!
I hope to go back to Honduras next summer to see all of my new friends. Luis, in my picture, became my best friend in the matter of 7 days. He taught me that you need to love with all you've got. You don't need money to be happy. Put others first. Just a smile can brighten someone's day. Luis made such an impact on me and I hope that I left
Its been about 24 hours since I left Honduras...and still I find myself thinking about everything I experienced there. Despite the pouring rain, the heat, the long walks ,bugs, and cold water I am very grateful for all the people I met and conversations I had. I truly believe that every person I came in contact with was for a reason. Thirty years from now I might not remember how some of these people look or even their name... but I will remember what type of effect they had on me. I do not really know what life will bring after Honduras but I hope it will be a journey worthwhile.
"Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward
it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us."
Our stay in Catacamas was punctuated by events organized by the university just for us. There were tours of the campus, cultural activities, presentations by students, and many opportunities for cultural and personal exchanges between their students and the Ferrum visitors. We were treated with wonderful hospitality and thoughtfulness, and we all enjoyed it tremendously.
Nuevo Paraíso village is a children's village. This is where children from families that either have no parents or have parents who cannot care for them or who abuse them can come to live and learn in safety. They have small children and teenage girls in the village. We didn't have as much time with the girls as we did with the Flor Azul boys, but we did have a fun day of play. In addition, Dr. Sagasti Suppes collaborated with Dr. Annemarie Grassi, a youth worker from Cleveland who runs Open Doors Academy, and with help from Ferrum student Christi Williams taught a workshop on self esteem and sex education. We also had an evening in which the women in our group had their hair and nails done by the girls. There is never enough time, but the little time we spent with the girls was fun.
Flor Azul is a place up on a mountain where the most wonderful boys live. There are over sixty boys between the ages of twelve and twenty-two. All of them have experienced extreme poverty, most of them have experienced abuse or violence, all of them have hearts as big as the world. The time we spent with them was magical, and we were able to connect with them individually as we played, learned, and taught English, art, and geography. Mostly we had a chance to talk to them and get to know them and to be humbled by their graciousness, humility, and love.
When I agreed to venture on the trip to Honduras months ago, I had no idea the impact that it would have on me or how much a simple week could change my life. I came with the attitude of wanting to help children less fortunate than I but also with an open mind to being changed. I knew that the people I would encounter would offer me more than I could ever possibly give back to them... Little did I know just how much. I think it is cliche to say that "this trip changed my life forever" but in my case it has been the truth. It has been amazing to me to see people in such poverty, literally starving without food, children without education yet with all those negatives in their lives, they always find a reason to smile. The people of Honduras are genuily happy, they are grateful for what little they have, their family and the little things in life that I think as Americans we have been taught to overlook. We are so used to our fast paced lives revolving around name brands, money and status that we forget about the moments in life that truly matter.. something that I have been reminded each day since being in Honduras.
One quote from our nightly reflections this week has really stuck with me... "every day is a life time in its self, an adventure... how did you spend yours today?" This question really made me think of all the amazing things I had encountered in just a single day of being here, how many new things I had learned, seen, and been amazed by. This statement looking back over the week has proved to be true for me.. and I am blessed to have been able to spend five little lifetime adventures with such amazing people.
Over the course of this past week our Ferrum group has had the opportunity to touch the lives of so many children as we attended a few different schools, giving out school supplies and clothes. We also put together a Cinderella play which we performed at each school and had the students make small paper bag puppets with us. I think the most amazing part though was not the children... it was the teachers and other adults in the village and how eager they were to participate. It really made me think. Many of the adults in Honduras, especially the women within many of these towns, never truly had a "childhood". It made my day to be able to create a small piece of that for these adults and see their creativity come alive as they put together paper bag puppets and the smiles on their faces as they looked over their completed project. Once again something, we as Americans seem to take for granted... the simple idea of "childhood".
Another aspect of our trip, was being able to open our hearts to the teenage boys of Flor Azul. These boys truly touched our hearts as they welcomed us with open arms.. trusting us, and seeing the best qualities we had to offer rather than all the negatives. The boys range in age from 12 to 20 and spend their time working on chores, studying and trying to better themselves for their future. Never in my life have I seen boys so eager to learn and the drive to do so. Our first day at Flor Azul, a group of boys went up to Profe and asked if they could have a lesson in English because they had an exam on Wednesday and wanted to study and review in advance... This was on a SATURDAY. It absolutely amazed and blew me away at how these group of boys instead on wanting to play soccer outside and goof off, would have rather learned English skills because their education came first.
It is these little qualities that have truly captured my heart.
During this week I actually greatly bonded with one of the boys, Jose Angel... he is 15 years old and has so much to offer the world. He has a smile that could brighten a room and opens his heart to all those around him. He truly has a passion for people, and cares about others in a way that isn't seen very often in the United States. I chose to make the decision to sponsor him, and help him to achieve his dream of becoming a mechanic one day. Which in Honduras is a great job to obtain. By sponsoring I am helping him with day to day items, that are a necessity. Once again things that, we all take for granted. But to be able to describe the friendship that has been created over a simple week is beyond words.. it is something that I cherish deeply, not only with Jose but with all the boys from Flor Azul.
I honestly could go on and on about all the ways this trip has changed my life, but it would take days to finish explaining how I feel. All in all, this has been one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn't change a single thing. I hope to return to this great country and to continue helping all the wonderful people here.
And Mom.. I didn't forget about you :) I love you and miss you dearly!
This our last day at nuevo paraiso.....Even though I have so much things to do when I get home I am sad to be leaving. It has been very exciting to go to many diffrent schools and perform our story and pass out supplies. There are so many people here that I will never forget. I am going to miss all the boys at flor azul, people at nuevo paraiso and all the kids I talked to. Even the boy that was screaming everything he was saying. Its been a great experience and I will never forget it.
Honduras 2012-we have no idea what is going on. That is the slogan for our entire trip, and for many trips before and to come. In Honduras, you cannot make any plans because of all the rain. Each day we will wake up and guarenteed we will do something completely different than what we orginally planned. The rain often washes away the roads because they are dirt and we were unable to go to any of the mountain schools. It is upsetting to us, and especially to Karen, because one of the schools has absolutely no way to get food unless we bring it to them. When we visited a village called Campos, they told us that the government is supposed to bring them food each month...they hadnt been there since January. Karen immediately went out and bought food for the people of Campos. I will never be able to explain the feeling you get inside when you hear the children screaming for joy as you walk up carrying supplies for them to have.
I dont think that 1,000 pictures or stories could have ever prepared me for what I have seen down here. Each day is a brand new day, and each day I learn more and more about myself, my friends, and the people of Honduras. It is extraordinary to see people who have so little and go through so much, get up each day and smile and do their best to see that we are the ones who are happy/comfortable.
Epecially the boys of Flor Azul, who haved suffered so much yet are the kindest and most mature people I know. We have made so many close connections to them, and I will forever remember getting to know them. They teach us how to play soccer and do cool tricks, and even if they laugh at us when we fail miserably-they are still determined to make sure we can do it. I am forever changed for being down here. I thought, coming down, that we would be the ones giving them lessons but it turns out they have a lot more to teach than I ever will. I decided to sponsor a boy named Arturo and really hope to be able to return to Honduras soon! I love it here, even if I miss everyone at home. See you soon!
The students and faculty who traveled together to Honduras for a service-learning course wrote about our adventures on this blog, both during and after our travels.