by Alex Denton 10th September 2018
At the crack of dawn Steve and I set off for the satellite town of Zambrano for an important presentation. Picking up the amazing Julio on the way, we cracked on through the misty countryside and past the smoking chimneys of the coffee plantations. On the way we discussed Steve's love of cheese, Julio's marriage plans and my love of coffee. We arrived in Zambrano and headed to the 'Casa de Luz', house of light, a project founded in 2005, that acts as a school reinforcement programme. The project runs four days a week and children from the local community come to receive supplementary education. Structured educational and devotional time is planned and breakfast or lunch is provided (depending on whether kids come before their afternoon lessons or after their morning lessons).
Steve and Julio proceeded to present the SKD mentoring programme that has been absorbed, refined, and implemented in ten mini mentoring programmes throughout Honduras via Projecto Alas. They explained the nine different adverse childhood experiences characteristics that have been identified in children who have suffered abuse. They then presented the statistics that demonstrated the poitive impact a successful mentoring programme can have. For example, in spending at least one hour a week with a mentor, children were 46% less probable to use illegal drugs and 52% less likely to fail in school according to the Big Brother Big Sister programme in the United States.
Andrew and Abbi live in Zambrano and work at the Casa de Luz. They are looking forward to working with the older children through the mentoring programme. Currently the project focuses on five to ten year olds but from next year onwards they will incorporate eleven to fourteen year olds in a youth group structure. This is an important step so that the kids who have gone through the original programme continue their development and receive the support they need. Currently the Casa de Luz hosts 30 children in the morning and 40 in the afternoon. Proyecto Alas will continue working with them to implement the mentoring programme and support these children into their teens.
We returned back to the city to visit the Isaiah House which is part of the Mika Project. This project supports older teens and young adults who would otherwise not be given another opportunity in life.
All of the youth were living on the streets and partaking in drug abuse after the disintegration of their families.
Isaiah House is a three / four year programme and the youth become part of a new family. The three pillars that are covered are rehabilitation, discipleship and vocational training. This specific house opened in 2015 and evolved from a day programme. Previously the youth used to arrive, shower, put on fresh clothes,have lunch and then leave. The project gradually transformed into a home as dependency to the streets was holding them back. Whilst this has bought with it a whole new bunch of challenges the support and nurturing atmosphere has succeeded for the most part in rehabilitating the youth. Their life can be tough because the local environment is dangerous and temptation is always on their doorstep. However, they are learning how to overcome these temptations and with three of the youth out working on their mechanical vocational training the positive outcomes were clearly visible. We joined the current residents for lunch to celebrate the Honduran day of the Child. This soon turned to arm wrestling which resulted in the challenger from the UK ousting the local Honduran champion.
Next stop was Linda Miller. This is where Ben Soden and I stayed for a week under the hospitable care of Doña Reyna. Returning to this tiny corner of Honduras and seeing Mama Reyna's face light up when she saw us arrive was a special moment. Her love and hospitality has grown (if that was possible) and she even opened the tea I had gifted her so I could have a nice cuppa. Unfortunately she started by pouring cold water onto the tea bag, but all was quickly forgiven.
Today has been a day of travel, of seeing new projects, and opportunities to spread the mentoring programme further afield. It has been a day of meeting new and inspirational people like Stephen from Isaiah House and reconnecting with old friends like Keyla (Donya Reyna's daughter). It has been a day of experiencing the two sides to Honduras. The piercing beauty of the country and the natural landscapes and the gang riddled lawlessness of the city. I love it here and I know that in time and with change this country will be a largely positive place.
Alex a.k.a. bébé Denton