Our week at AFE.
Our next chapter starts with our arrival at Linda Miller, a community half an hours drive from the Honduran capital. We decided that we did not want to stay in the seminary (a mission house where Gringo teams lounged, watched CNN and ate american foods), but rather at a host family. We arrived at Donya Reina's house where we would experience proper Honduran cuisine, legitimate Honduran culture and hopefully improve our Spanish! We settled down for some sleep (which I shall discuss later) and thought about our exciting week ahead.
Walking up to the school was very emotional for me. I was honoured and humbled to have spent an incredible week here running activities back in 2012. I managed to visit for a day in 2013 but it just was not enough. Finally I had returned and this feeling overwhelmed me to the point where I had a tear in my eye. We walked over the dust football field, glancing at the trees where Pastor Jeony had started teaching lessons to the kids who worked on and lived near the large rubbish dump. We approached the buildings which had been built as his school grew and accommodated more and more children.
This incredible school gives these children a chance of an education, as well as a chance to open up their aspirations. Instead of sifting through rubbish they can learn, play and dream of better things. Families are offered incentives to ensure their children attend the school. Homes are constructed for the families and the rent they have to pay is small. Upon graduation the family receives the house for free.
There have been a few changes since I was last at AFE. The wall which stops anyone walking into the site has been completed. The health clinic has been constructed, allowing the surrounding community to receive extremely cheap and life saving medicines and treatment. This building has also created a lot of classroom space as well as an open roofed area at the top. This is where we decided to run a lot of our activities!
I shall walk you through a typical day in our week. A typical day consisted of being woken up by the sound of stray dogs barking and parrots screeching. If we were lucky we would have running water for a cold shower and then a traditional breakfast of beans, eggs and plantanes. A quick walk to the centre of the Miller would be followed by a minibus journey to AFE. These minibuses have been decked out at public transport buses and contain at least one armed guard to ensure the driver does not get robbed. Ben whispered in my ear everyday that he wanted to get a selfie with the guard's pump action shotgun/fully automatic machine gun. We would arrive at AFE by 7:30 where we would begin the humiliating ritual of applying suncream whilst the staff and early children would gawp and giggle. We would then run an hours worth of activities for one age group before recess and then three more afterwards before lunch. After lunch which was a tasty dish of rice, beans, sometimes meat and tortillas, we would do one of two things. We would either help wear out the kids in the nursery before nap time for a couple of hours or chill with the high schoolers, partaking in banter and helping them with their English homework. At around three we would catch the bus back, head to the seminary to nab some wifi and then back to Mama Reina's house for dinner and more top quality banter!
We had a variety of activities for all age groups. The younger groups were entertained with a paper airplane competition, the best decorated and furthest flying were rewarded with a prize. The slightly older ones were given an inflated balloon and told to pop all the others whilst protecting their own. hearts were constructed and of course football was played in the glaring sun. We managed to avoid the standard kickabout football by placing the goals in the middle of the pitch and using them as a net for a volleyball/ football hybrid! I believe by the end of the week every child had at least 5 paper airplanes.
I shall finish by writing about the people we have met in AFE and in the Miller. One of the younger girls, Sangela, was always cheeky, stealing our hand sanitiser and running away. It was a shock to find out that this happy enthusiastic girl had no parents. They were both dead and she was living with her 14 year old sister alone. Our high school friend Daniel worked on the dump for five years before joining AFE. He does not have a place to live so Pastor Jeony allows him to live on site. His English is excellent and improving! Leyli was an impressionable young lady. This high school girl was, in the words of Benji, a 'proper feisty Latina'! She gave us some good banter, punched us on the arm if we were cheeky, and got on with us tremendously. We found out that there were some issues in her life and that she was upset as she believed she would not be able to fulfil her dreams. Hopefully one day she will graduate and follow her friend Maoly's example and study Psychology at University. She wants to be a psychologist and English teacher when she is older.
Finally we have to mention Mama Reina, Keyla and Esaule. Their hospitality was so genuine and appreciated and they truly made Ben and I part of their family. It saddened us to learn that Mama Reina's husband had been murdered back in November 2014. Her devotion to her family and her efforts to always be happy and welcoming in her community earned her our deepest respect and love. God works in mysterious ways, we will pray for her family and God's love.
I don't believe I have ever felt so depressed and heartbroken when I have said goodbye to anything. Leaving AFE after this week hurt a lot. I was quiet on the way home and tearful in my reflection of the week. Ben and Mama Reina managed to drag me out of this state as well as the reassuring words from friends that this was not a goodbye but a see you in the future. This incredible project still needs constant support and I know that when I have a salary I shall be sponsoring kids and helping as much as I can there. WE LOVE YOU AFE ! TE QUIERO MUCHO!
See you soon, you have a special place in my heart. Please keep AFE project in your thoughts and prayers and by all means donate if you can!
Yours Truly , Alex D