Unbound, an international nonprofit founded by lay Catholics, has taken four Catholic journalists to Honduras this week. I’m traveling with The Tidings' weekly culture columnist Heather King, as well as Liz Quirin, editor of the Messenger in the Diocese of Belleville, Ill., and Sarah E. Dixon, assistant to the editor at the Southern Cross in Savannah, Ga. Unbound serves those in need in 21 countries, and they do it in many ways. One of those is through sponsorships. Folks in the United States and elsewhere sponsor children, young adults or elderly people in need.
We spent a lot of our first day at the Casa Hogar, which is a home for children whose parents have a hard time making ends meet. We were given a warm welcome and the children performed traditional dances for us before we enjoyed a delicious lunch together. After lunch, we split up and met families served by Unbound, including some who have children at the Casa Hogar.
The uplifting visit with the children is tempered by the reality of poverty. About 75 percent of the children who live in the Casa Hogar come from single-parent homes. One mother we visited said her husband just left one day and never came back. A woman Heather and I interviewed shared how alcoholism had destroyed her family. Seven of her 14 siblings lost their lives because of alcohol, in one way or another. She struggles with it herself.
Another family we visited told us that, on a good day, the husband could bring home the equivalent of $6 a day. But on most days, he doesn’t have work. There’s no place to get work, he says, so he just waits. He and his wife have one daughter. She’s 4 and adorable. The mother said they’d like to have more children, but they couldn’t afford it. I’ve heard people say this before in the United States, yet it sounds so much different here.
I’ve been asking when the troubles began. No one knows when. It’s always been difficult. Some blame the government. There’s no work. I ask if their parents had the same problem, and I’m told they did. The adults I’ve spoken to so far, they almost have a resignation to it. Life is hard. That’s just the way it is.
But the kids at Casa Hogar are different. They’re talking about getting jobs and going to school. Their faces are full of hope and gratitude for what’s to come.
One young girl, 16, whose mother struggles with alcoholism said she wants to be a nurse. Why? Because she wants to be able to help people in this rural town who don’t have healthcare. It’s incredible. So often, children who grow up in this kind of poverty want to get away from it. They want to leave and find a better life somewhere else. But not these kids. They want to stay and change the way things are.