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."
We are back at home. I must say, I will never forget this experience. I have learned a lot from taking this journey and think anyone that has the opportunity should think about doing the same. It was definitely not an easy thing to do: I left my children for almost 2 weeks, showered in cold water for a week, walked for miles to explore and learn while on this trip, and much more. However, I am glad I had the chance to go and I'm very thankful for having had this opportunity.
While in Honduras, we worked with children in schools from kindergarten through high school and even met with some in college. Many of the children and families we met are living in extreme poverty. You would never know it, though, by talking to them. These children have more drive, determination, and work ethic than many children in the United States. There was one child about 8 years old that was out working to provide for his family the first day we went to his school. He was so happy when we met with him the next day, though, and even sang a few songs for us. He is very talented. They've said he probably will not be able to go to school next year because they can't afford it. This saddens me to know that a child is not able to get an education regardless of his parent's income. After working with the mountain schools in the mornings, we worked with the teenage boys at Flor Azul each afternoon. I couldn't believe how many of them wanted to have classes in English rather than go outside and enjoy themselves after a long school day. Even after an hour of class, they didn't want to leave. I hope my own children grow up with that same ambition. More children need to think like these boys. The teenage girls were the same way. They enjoy school and some of the oldest have been going to beauty school. They asked to do our hair and nails while we were there and did a great job. They underestimate just how skilled they really are I think. At the university I met a guy working on his second bachelors degree just to be able to make it and begin a project in natural resources to help his country with the issues they are facing.
I hope all of these people are able to fulfill their dreams and move on to bigger and better things. I learned a lot from many of the children and adults that I worked with on this trip and hope to put into play the many lessons they've taught me. I only wish they knew how much they all did for me. I look up to them for inspiration in my own life. Never give up on things you want!!
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.