It started in 1979 with five hungry, scared, abandoned little boys on the streets of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Five members of the local Episcopal Church wanted to address the deplorable situation of the countless children abandoned on the streets. They rented a home and went out to bring those five boys home. They fed them, cleaned them up, and showed them love and compassion. With that, El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza – The Home of Love and Hope – was born.
In the years since, nearly 1,000 students have graduated from El Hogar, which has grown to include four campuses: an elementary school, a Technical Institute, an Agricultural School, and a residence for high school girls.
With initial funding from the Methodist Fund for Human Need, the founders began their work. A young Honduran, Lazaro Juarez, had also been raised in an orphanage and worked with them. He has made it his life’s mission to care for his country’s neediest children. Lazaro was El Hogar’s first employee and is now the Sub-Executive Director in Honduras and Director of the Technical Institute.
As those first boys grew in self-confidence and self-esteem, others joined them. By the end of the first year, the original location was bursting at the seams. The next year, El Hogar built a cottage to sleep another 20 and the growth continued. El Hogar began with boys because, at the time, they were abandoned over girls at the rate of 10 to one.
Until establishing their own private school in 1990, the boys attended the community’s public through the available six grades, but they still had no job skills and nowhere to go after they graduated. In 1984, St. Mary’s Technical Institute was built with a grant from the United Thank Offering and from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The original buildings were constructed by the boys, under the supervision of volunteers.
In 1989, Claudia de Castro came to El Hogar and became the Director of the Elementary School. She is an inspiring leader, dedicated mother, and passionate advocate for all of her children.
The founders of El Hogar had also envisioned an additional high school that would offer training in agriculture and farming. That vision became reality as the Agricultural School was dedicated in February of 1993. El Hogar’s Agricultural School and Farm is located about one hour from Tegucigalpa. The boys learn basic agriculture, how to work with livestock, and crop management techniques. In 2007, the Agricultural School built a new dorm and increased their capacity from 40 to 60 boys.
In November 2001, El Hogar Ministries, Inc., was formed as a 501(c)(3) organization and Liz Kinchen was hired as the Executive Director. This allowed all donations to be tax-deductible and created a central office to support the program. El Hogar Ministries is located in Woburn, Massachusetts, just north of Boston.
In February 2005, the Technical Institute relocated to a new property in the Amarateca Valley, about 30 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa. Through the efforts of El Hogar Ministries, a capital campaign raised over $1.5 million to make this move possible. The new Institute was dedicated in February 2008.
In 2006, a fully equipped, three-chair dental clinic was set up on the main campus in Tegucigalpa. Volunteer dental teams come several times each year to ensure the dental health of the students. The children also have access to healthcare and psychological support.
In 2007, El Hogar accepted the first five female students into the first grade program. The number has increased with each year.
In 2011, the Rev. Matt Engleby became the new Executive Director in Honduras. Also in 2011, El Hogar purchased a property in nearby Santa Lucia for El Hogar girls who reach high school age. The 2012 elementary school graduation saw six girls graduate and move on to high school. Their dreams include being a doctor, teacher, lawyer, and the future director of El Hogar.
El Hogar has grown tremendously from only five boys to over 250 boys and girls in the four centers. The Honduran staff is made up of dedicated role models for the children. The children learn by instruction and example, and are the future of their families, communities, and country. The history of El Hogar is only beginning and will be written by our students and their success.