I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your financial support, as well as your thoughts and prayers, for my recent mission trip to Honduras. It was an incredible opportunity to help and to learn from the children and staff at El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza: literally, The House of Love and Hope.
I was fortunate that we had two former teachers on our team because the directors decided that all of us, rather than having a work project, would work directly with the children and teachers in their classrooms. We had a wonderful time playing outdoors with the kids but our eyes were opened when we spent time observing and participating in their education. It is incredible to see how quickly these children have learned to read in the first grade, to write extremely well and neatly, to participate with their classmates during class, and to treat each other and their teachers with respect.
I was assigned to the fifth grade where the phenomenally talented teacher, the only male, was teaching the children about positive and negative numbers. He also taught sixth grade math where the children were learning algebra. I was amazed at the level of learning in these two classes: the children are quite advanced, despite the fact that some of them only recently arrived at El Hogar.
I had several wonderful conversations with Heyser and learned, among other things, that in addition to his job at El Hogar, he plays marimba with several of the students at weddings, parties and the like. I had the delightful opportunity to attend several after-school sessions with the four students who are learning to play from memory and with the very patient instruction of Heyser. He is quite simply one of the best teachers I’ve ever met and El Hogar is indeed fortunate to have him on their staff.
Other team members were assigned to fourth and first grades and had different direct experiences but felt the same kind of love and dedication from the classroom teachers. Naturally the first-graders are at a primary level but they have learned so much during this academic year that will end in mid-November.
I enjoyed the chance to see the many activities that were ongoing in the grade five art class: the children were self-starters and doing various projects including sewing aprons using electric machines, making wreaths from CDs and bits of cloth, and painting using a Titian-like base overlaid with white to build light and shadow. The teacher was a facilitator while the kids set up all the materials that they needed and went to work!
We were fortunate to visit the several off-site campuses of the technical school and the agricultural school for the boys in grades 7-9, along with the house for girls who attend a private school for grades 7-9.
These schools allow the graduates of sixth grade to continue their education as well as to learn useful “trades” for their lives after El Hogar. The boys at both campuses were happy and engaged in their respective jobs.
I am so grateful to you for your support! My take-away thought from this experience is not so much being grateful for what I have but rather my dismay at the abject poverty that is rampant in Honduras. How can we fix an entire country? Thank goodness for El Hogar: literally the difference between life and death for these children.