On Monday, December 11, 2023, we visited a grammar school in Choloma that we would like to support called Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn). It is located on the outskirts of Choloma and isn’t too hard to reach. It was about a 15-minute ride from the highway down a very bumpy dirt road. We like this school because it embodies a lot of the themes that are important to us, and they desperately need our help.
It is a grammar school which currently has about 310 students ranging from kindergarten to 8th grade. The parents are in the process of constructing more classrooms so they can add a ninth grade and a computer room. Don Rafa took us to the school where we were met by the principal, the president of the PTA and two other PTA members.
CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK TO SEE A PHOTO ALBUM OF OUR VISIT:
In Honduras, the schools receive money from the federal government for the original construction of the school. Thereafter the federal government gives the town annual financial support, 5% of which goes to the schools. It is used to pay teacher salaries. The parents are then responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the school including daily janitorial work. The parents also must purchase all the books and school supplies for the children. As a result, the schools are in very poor condition. The children are on vacation until February. It was hard to imagine 310 kids in this school every day, but they make do. The desks are in terrible shape. The parents have a project to paint and repair the desks, but we estimate about 100 are beyond repair. We committed to purchasing 100 new desks and travelled to a locally owned desk manufacturing company in Choloma to purchase the desks.
We were very impressed with the commitment of the parents to the school. They have raised most of the funds for the new construction and are building the classrooms themselves. They have everything they need for the project except the doors and windows and the bars that must go over the windows to guard against theft. We will provide these items for the completion of the project at a cost of $1200.
I mentioned above that the school embodies a lot of the themes that are important to us. We want to see Honduras become a better and safer place for the future of today’s children. We believe that education is the key to help make this happen. Currently, education is only mandatory to the 6th grade and many children don’t even get that far. When they leave school, they are theoretically 12 years old and there are very few opportunities for these children. Some go to work with their parents, but many others find their way to the cities in search of opportunities. Many of these kids find nothing and are recruited by the gangs. They are used to collect money from businesses that are being extorted by the gangs. If the business doesn’t pay, they are instructed to kill the owners. If they don’t collect the money the gang kills the kids.
This pattern of violence is one of the major reasons Hondurans leave their country to find a better life in the US. They want to escape the violence of the gangs and are forced to pick up and leave everything to save themselves and their families. Hondurans are the largest group of migrants that make it to the US border seeking asylum. They are desperate to get in because if they are forced to return to Honduras it’s a death sentence.
We feel that is important to keep children involved in education for as long as possible to avoid them leaving the system and falling into the orbit of gangs. This is one of the reasons we like this school so much. The parents are motivated to build a school which will keep the children in the school until 9th grade when they are at least 15 years old. Many of the kids will be 17 or 18 when they finish 9th grade. When they are that age, it will be easier to find employment, or they can then enter a vocational or technical school so they can learn skills that will allow them to create a sustainable life in their own country. Choloma is the home to many factories of foreign companies. Because of foreign child labor restrictions all employees must be at least 18 to get a job there.
We would like to help this school get into good shape to provide an educational environment that allows the children to be successful in life. We would like to concentrate our efforts on this school to make it a model for what can be achieved with the combined efforts of the parents, the children and Angels for Honduras. We know we are too small to win this battle by ourselves, but we can set an example of success for others to copy.
There is a lot to be done and we have taken some small steps to make a difference. There are floors to fix, fans to repair or replace, junk to get rid of, classrooms to complete, walls to be painted, bathrooms to be fixed and a lot more. We would like to get a group of interested people to come to Honduras to help with these projects. We could arrange for work crews to come to Honduras for school breaks around Easter time and in June. Don Rafa has agreed to be the crew boss and define the needed tasks for the crew. We envision that the crew would stay at the Copantl Hotel in San Pedro Sula and take the 30-to-45-minute drive to the school everyday by a chartered bus. The principal’s husband has such a bus! The parents we met were so excited about this project that they immediately offered to cook everyone the best breakfast, lunch, and dinners possible. We think only lunch will be necessary, but the enthusiasm of the parents was so heartwarming.