Sunday 8th July 2018
My preparations for the Camino por Amor walk, which starts today (Sunday) at 4am local time in Honduras, has meant my time sharing with you has been limited to put it mildly. The walk will start for me in the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa, and will take 7 days to walk to Guatemala City with an estimated 90km per day on the road. Steve Poulson, who works for Street Kids Direct as a full-time volunteer, will start in Guatemala City and end up in Tegucigalpa. And yes, it´s a race!
If you would like to know more then please check out the information page on our website and do keep updated on our Facebook page. Our aim is not only to finish alive, but also to raise £10,000 for our partner projects in Guatemala City. There are also two giving sites for donors from the U.S. and the U.K. If you are anywhere else in the world then please do use the UK giving site.
There have been some amazing things happening recently in our partner projects in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. Firstly, the feeding centre for high-risk children in San Jorge, Nicaragua, has seen its fair share of challenges.
The country has been thrown into political chaos and violence, which has left many dead and many more seriously injured. We are impressed that the feeding centre has continued to offer something to the children each day despite the lack of basic foods now available in the shops.
In Honduras we have seen a steady increase of interest in the Street Kids Direct mentoring programme. In one town there the programme has ignited local interest and has resulted in the opening up of an after-school club for high-risk children. Steve Poulson and his team and local coordinator, Julio, have bold plans to grow the programme and open a small business in the town to raise funds to support the mentoring programme.
The work in Guatemala flourishes and I have been so encouraged by the way the two local leaders of the SKD Guatemala project (formally Mi Arca) have led the way to help more kids at risk. This has meant more children now coming to the mentoring centre each day and getting the support they need. We are pleased to announce that thanks to your support we have been able to offer employment to a wonderful and very committed teacher to help run the centre. This has had a great impact on the children and brought a sense of stability to the children.
I would like to thank two volunteers who have been with us recently and have helped in the centre to provide a superb array of activities for the children. Thank you to Laura Evans and Beth Alan-Jones and I know the children and the team miss your energy and input and look forward to having you back with us anytime.
My mentoring is always rewarding but, at the same time, a challenge each week as I have 6 boys to look after. Each one has their own unique set of challenges and they come from fairly similar situations. In La Terminal Moses, the 10-year-old who has been with me since he was 5 years of age, was asking for help with his signature. When I has 10 I had no idea what a signature was but Moses had seen me sign many forms and letters and so became curious. Being his mentor, I thought I would take the opportunity afforded to me by his question to discuss the uniqueness of his signature and tried to lead this to a discussion about how unique he is as a person. We had fun together talking about what type of signature he wanted and the style it could be. He had fun trying out various options before settling on a version that included a large curl over his name.
On another occasion I managed to take four of the boys to an outdoor activity centre a few miles out of Guatemala City. We took along an air rifle and a bag of drinks and fruit and headed for the woods. There was a small target shooting range setup and the boys enjoyed seeing who the best marksman was before we packed up our things and headed for the best bit. This was the exploration of the forest and included us discovering a small waterfall.
On arrival at the waterfall the boys started to just play. Not that they have never played before but I watched with interest as they just became children and squatted down by the small stream and made dams and created little worlds where river folk could live. Their creativity seemed to have no limits and further explorations led to a forbidden forest and to monsters and pursuit adventures. I loved seeing them so happy as this was a special time to enjoy free play. A world indeed away from their everyday lives, but for the moment all that could be forgotten and another world could be explored and imagined to their hearts content.
Meanwhile back in the city another group of children were enjoying feeling safe again as they had been offered temporary accommodation in the protection home. The home is not yet open but while the building work continues upstairs we can make use of the very basic accommodation downstairs. The children came to us because their grandmother, who works watching parked cars on the streets all day, was recently hit by a car and left in the road with a broken arm and many other injuries. Since both their parents are in prison and all three are deemed to be at high-risk and also are part of our mentoring programme, they were offered safe refuge until the grandmother comes out of hospital.
The construction work upstairs is really changing the feel and shape of the place and, if all goes to plan, it should be completed by the end of the first week of August. Once completed we will then be able to offer a more fitting place for vulnerable children in the mentoring programme for short-term respite care or for emergency situations. There is still much to do to find the funds for the running costs and the fitting out of a kitchen as well as protocols, manuals and all sorts of forms and procedures to be developed. Keep an eye on the website for updates over the next couple of weeks.
Until then I have a walk to complete from today and if I make it back to Guatemala actually walking I will then update you more on the projects. In the meantime, please do support the walk and share it with your friends. If you enjoy walking and would like to “Walk the Walk” with us, then more information is on the website. Thank you for being there and for your consistent and loving support of our work. See you on the other side of the walk!