November 4, 2014
The call of the streets
Part One of Fernando’s story
The streets of San Pedro Sula, second largest city in Honduras, teem with anger, violence and despair. These hot, dirty streets are familiar to Fernando Jose Vayejo Baca. Yes, his mom Belkis, and two younger brothers share a small shack made of rough boards and plastic, and Fernando is supposed to be spending his days in school. But school is more often closed than open due to teacher strikes. When he does go to his overcrowded class Fernando sits in the back, where escape to the outside is easy. Older tough guys wearing chains and guns beneath their jackets call out to him, “Hey brother, want to make some easy money?” Fernando is tempted. School holds little interest, his mom cannot find work and is always struggling to find enough food for her boys. Easy money sounds good.
Then Fernando and his brothers find themselves living in Tegucigalpa, the largest city in Honduras, where Belkis feels work might be easier to find. Their shack here is a lot like the one in San Pedro Sula and Belkis’ work is spotty at best; ironing clothes, cutting weeds with a machete, selling tortillas on the street. Although some family live in Tegucigalpa, life here remains a daily struggle. Fernando is spending even more time out of class and when he is not looking after his brothers for his mom, he is out in the gang-infested streets. Belkis worries about his poor grades, his restless friends and his growing attitude of rebelliousness. In the still of the night, Belkis’ heart is heavy and she fears what will become of her sons…