A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel with my mother and her friends on a mission to Central America. Our mission was to provide service in a variety of capacities at El Hogar, a home for poor and abandoned children in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
The home’s mission statement reads: “Our mission is to transform and empower abandoned and hopelessly poor children in Honduras by providing a loving home and education. Our goal is for them to fulfill their ultimate potential as productive, caring and independent Honduran citizens.”
We all know the parenting journey can be bumpy at times, despite the many resources available to us, so as I soaked in this statement and became inspired by its ambitious goals, I was curious how these goals could be met in such a challenging environment.
After a long day of travel, some of it spent wishing that I had taken more time learning my Spanish, I arrived to El Hogar with an open mind and heart. We stayed on site, living with the youngest and newest children to become part of the El Hogar family. We were able to witness the early transition of a few children who had just arrived at their new “forever” home. I secretly wondered if they were experiencing any culture shock, and what it must be like for them to have new found luxuries like clean drinking water, three meals a day, and a bed of their own.
Each day we spent time with the kids sharing in their routine of chores, school, playtime and meals. It struck me over and over just how well-adjusted and happy the majority of them were – smiling, laughing and teasing each other like siblings! This didn’t make sense to me, especially after reading about their early and unfair hardships. Many of these children didn’t have parents, and had survived by begging on the streets. Sometimes these kids had only one parent who worked far away, so they were left to raise their younger siblings – often with little food, water or adequate shelter.
As the days passed, it finally clicked as to what the “magic” was behind El Hogar: it was their loving, caring and resilient culture, nurtured and fed by the home’s director, pastor, teachers and staff, and supported by their service teams. El Hogar may not have ever officially labelled their actions but they had embraced and embedded the family assets within their home. Despite not being a “typical family”, these developmental assets were present and applied every day in the lives of the children and staff. It was an amazing “ah-ha” moment for me to see how the developmental assets work at any age in any situation.
When my experience ended, I came to realize El Hogar’s mission statement wasn’t really lofty at all; with the help of the amazing and inspiring staff these incredibly resilient children would go on to fulfill their potential with my teammates and I cheering them on each step of the way.
If you are interested in volunteering, sponsoring a child or want to learn more please visit: http://www.elhogarcanada.ca
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.