2017 Team Honduras
Rev. Barbara's thoughts on her el Hogar 2017 trip
St. Matthew’s Church in Pennington sends a service team to El Hogar, Honduras every other year. El Hogar is a residential school for elementary school children in Honduras who are most at risk from hunger, violence and poverty. These children are invited to attend the school by the El Hogar staff. From July 8-15, 2017 I was privileged to participate.
We worked hard to rehabilitate some classrooms, but mostly, we made ourselves available to the staff and students, and played or did crafts and art with the children every evening. While we were there, a set of five siblings arrived. Their father had been murdered, and under this same threat, their mother had fled, leaving them with their grandmother, living in a lean-to on the banks of a river. Their grandmother went into the city every day to sell candy, leaving the children on their own. Her meager earnings weren’t enough to provide for everyone. The oldest boy felt responsible for his siblings and grandmother. At just 11 years old, he had become the man of the house.
When he arrived at El Hogar, he was dissolved in tears, and would not go to bed that first night without seeing where his siblings were sleeping. He felt guilty for not staying with his grandmother to help her, but also knew that he needed to be at El Hogar with his siblings where he could eat three times a day, have a bed and a roof over his head, the opportunity to attend school and receive the love and care of the staff, as well as to have other children with whom to experience being a child. It was such a gift to play UNO with him on his third day at El Hogar, and to see him smile and laugh even when he kept losing.
Seeing the work of the Episcopal Church in Honduras—reaching out to the poorest and most at-risk children, made me proud to be an Episcopalian. Lives are being transformed, and we are there to witness it and provide a safe space where a community of love, care and compassion is being built every day. To see that hope is possible in the most challenging of situations is a sign of the power of the Gospel. The grace of Jesus Christ enables the staff to enter dangerous communities and emerge with children whose parents are willing to let them go to school, sometimes quite far from home. Every day the school gathers after breakfast to hear the Word of God and to give thanks for God’s goodness. It is shocking to know that some of these kids come from homes made of whatever scraps of plastic or metal could be found to build a shelter over a dirt floor, and who survive on beans and Tortillas. There is no running water or electricity. This crushing poverty causes nothing but suffering and worry. It is impossible for them to do anything but look for the next meal.
El Hogar reaches out to find these families and give them a glimpse of hope in a brighter future. I am deeply grateful to have been a part of this community of care, even if just for a week. I treasure every hug I received and every smile I witnessed.
Guest preacher, The Reverend Matthew Engleby, Executive Director in Honduras for El Hogar
The Reverend Matthew Engleby connected the gospel reading about Mary and Joseph to the plight of the poor in Honduras. The parish celebrated 10 years of mission trips on Sunday December 18th, 2016.
Please click below to listen to the Reverend's sermon.
SUMMER MISSION TRIPS
2015-2016 Team Honduras Blog
Follow the team's progress at our blog: stmatthewspenningtonelhogar.wordpress.com
Since 2006, St. Matthew's has sent multigenerational work groups on week-long mission experiences with ages of the participants ranging from 15 to 70. Most recently the parish has sent teams to El Hogar – an orphanage associated with the Episcopal Church in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Urban Promise – a youth oriented ministry based in Camden, New Jersey.
The mission of El Hogar Projects is to provide a loving home and education in a Christian environment for abandoned,orphaned and desperately poor children, enabling them to fulfill their ultimate potential as productive human beings in Honduras.
Click here to view the July 2015 gallery from our trip to El Hogar.
El Hogar's main mission encompasses three schools:
- The Home of Hope and Love (El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza) which provides a safe home and education to about 75 boys from first through sixth grade. In 2007 El Hogar began taking in younger girls with plans for expanding one grade each year.
- The Episcopal Agricultural School and Farm which offers three years of education after sixth grade in animal husbandry and agriculture.
- St. Mary's Technical Institute which provides three years of education to the students after sixth grade in vocational training to become electricians, carpenters or welders—jobs they need to survive.
The workgroup team's main task is to serve the El Hogar Projects in any way that it can. This will be accomplished principally through two ways:
- The first way is by developing relationships with the children on the main campus by sharing meals with them, playing with them, going to church with them and other activities. The goal is to share and experience the love of God with them – and to see how God is already working in the children's lives.
- The second main way the teams help is through a construction project. Project have included helping with the dorms, cafeteria and classrooms at the technical school, and the new cinder block dorms at the main campus, replacing the aging wooden ones. On our last visit a member of the team also performed hearing tests for the children which they had never had before.
More information about El Hogar Projects can be found at its website: elhogar.org.