Every so often, God fills my heart with a moment of empathetic compassion. Today contains one of those moments.
For the last few weeks I’ve been in Honduras working with and doing research on a non-governmental organization called “Helping Honduras Kids.” This organization runs an orphanage for 20-some abandoned and/or abused children and an elementary school for around 100 impoverished children. As a way of rewarding a few of the children who are struggling economically yet thriving educationally, we–the foreign volunteers–decided to invite 7 kids to a day at the local water park. A few details are worth mentioning.
1) Most of the children did not know what a “water park” was when we invited them.
2) Most of the children had never entered a pool before today.
3) One 3rd-grade girl was shocked by the fact that air-powered hand-driers exist. (She literally leaped up into the air and screamed when the machine began to run.)
While these little details are actually not particularly surprising considering the situations in which these children find themselves, they are worthwhile to mention because they highlight the overwhelming joy and sense of adventure that the kids felt at the park. They had a great time!
However, a darker story overshadows the numerous positives associated with the trip to the water park. Three of the children we invited are siblings. The oldest of the three is a sixth grade boy. The middle child is a fifth grade girl. The youngest is a girl in first grade. Near the end of the day, the two older siblings walked over to me with looks of sadness on their faces. The girl said, “Our mother is gone.” I confusedly replied, “What do you mean?” She responded, “Last night she just packed her bags and left. She couldn’t take it here anymore. Our father is a drunkard and is abusive. We have no money. She felt helpless, so she left. She said she’s going to the US. If she makes it, then she’ll send us money. If she dies, then she dies.” At first I couldn’t believe what the girl was saying. Just last night their mother had signed the consent form allowing us to take the children to the water park, and now she decided to run away? I was shocked. There was not much left for me to say, but I assured the kids that I would pray for them and for their family. I also told them that they could count on me for any support they might need in the future. They smiled briefly, but the smiles faded away within seconds. Both the children and I knew that they would be returning home to a nasty mess tonight.
This factual story seems like a clip out of a novel or a soap opera, but it’s powerful to me because it’s true. I care about these kids. I teach them in school every weekday. Their success both personal and academic is important to me. If you feel in your heart that you need to reach out to these three children, then please do. Pray for them or get in touch with me to find out more about what you can do to support them.
May the Lord bless all the children who are struggling to find unity and hope in their lives. May He give us the grace to support them.
Your friend in Christ,