On Monday, December 11, 2023, we visited a grammar school in Choloma that we have chosen 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 down a bumpy dirt road from the highway. We like this school because it embodies a lot of the themes that are important to us, and they desperately need our help. We are planning a mission of volunteers from the US to help us get this school into shape from March 24 to March 31, 2024. Information about how to sign up, accommodations and other important info about the trip is at the bottom of this page. It is a grammar school with about 310 students ranging from kindergarten to 6th grade. The parents are constructing more classrooms so they can add classrooms for grades 7 to 9 and a computer room. Rafael Ugarte took us to the school, where we were met by the principal, the president of the PTA, and two other PTA members.
In Honduras, the schools receive money from the federal government for the school's original construction. 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 school's ongoing maintenance, including daily janitorial work. The parents must also purchase all the children's books and school supplies. 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 traveled to a locally owned desk manufacturing company in Choloma to buy 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. They have everything they need for the project except the doors, windows, and bars that must go over the windows to guard against theft. APH has gifted these items so the work can be completed
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 helping make this happen. Currently, education is only mandatory until the 6th grade, and many children don’t even get that far. When they leave school, they are theoretically 12 years old and very few opportunities exist 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 company 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 significant 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.
It 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 that will keep the children in the school until 9th grade when they are at least 15 years old. Many 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 to 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 18 to get a job there.
We want to help this school get into good shape to provide an educational environment that allows the children to succeed. We want 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 much to be done, and we have taken 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 improved, and more. We want to assemble a group of interested people to come to Honduras to help with these projects. Volunteers will stay at the Copantl Hotel in San Pedro Sula and take the 30-minute drive to the school daily 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 dinner possible. We thought only lunch would be necessary, but the parents' enthusiasm was so heartwarming.
Please get in touch with us by email (email@example.com) to volunteer for this mission. Volunteers will be responsible for their travel expenses. We will make the hotel reservations at the Copantl Hotel and suggest air travel options. Link to Copantl Hotel: copantl.com/
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