Some might say that I spend a fair amount of time in coffee shops. I mean, it’s not like a have a problem or anything…
Last Spring, I was sitting in a coffee shop looking at excellent pictures that Kelsey (the girl that loves cameras and is currently teaching a photography course with the kids) had taken on a recent trip. Then I looked at the art on the walls of the coffee shop that were put up by the months’ visiting artist. I thought – Why couldn’t I display some photos of the kids and their stories in places like this?? It would be an easy and fun way to let people know this home exists. And reading their stories may peak people’s interest enough to get involved. I’m sad to say that it took me a good 2 months to work up the nerve to ask anyone about it. I’ve always wanted to be artistic, but I’m simply not. So, to walk up to someone and ask if I could be the featured artist seemed like a blatant misrepresentation of my abilities. Finally, one day, I was feeling a little bold. I walked up to the owner and the conversation went something like this:
Me: Hi! My name’s Jenny and I work with a home for former street kids in Honduras. Would it be possible for me to display some pictures of the kids?
Karen (owner of the coffeeshop): Sure. What month would you like?
And I was in.
But then I had to figure out which pictures to display and how exactly to display them. Thankfully, Sean is artistically handy, or handily artistic, my friend Ann can edit my writing like a pro, and my brother-in-law, Jim, is a photo editing guru. They all stepped in and helped out where I was lacking. The display was at Gold Bar in Tempe for two months and then 2 weeks ago it was moved to Fair Trade Coffee in downtown Phoenix. For those of you in Phoenix – you should check it out! And for those of you who are very far away, I thought I’d upload some of the pictures with the kids’ stories so you would at least get a taste for what the display is like. Enjoy!
Here are two examples of the pictures with the child’s story.
Edgar is 11 years old and has been on and off the streets for about four years. His dad was physically abusive and then decided that he just didn’t want him anymore. Since then, Edgar has been caught in a cycle of being sent to a children’s home, where he waits for his dad to change his mind and return for him. When this doesn’t happen, Edgar runs away in search of his father. However, once Edgar finds his dad he is quickly rejected again and returns to the street, begging to survive and sleeping on cardboard behind a gas station until he’s picked up by the police and returned to a center. It has become harder and hard for Edgar to find his dad, and while it’s heartbreaking to see his disappointment, it’s hopeful in that he has become more stable in Proniño.
What’s even more hopeful is that he’s getting a vision for his future – literally and figuratively! He recently received glasses – There are few kids that have such a hard time seeing a computer screen or his friends as much as Edgar has struggled. And he’s consistently attending school for the first time in his life. He can spell his name which makes him nearly burst with pride…and write it on every flat surface he can find.
In this picture, Edgar is working in Proniño’s large vegetable garden where they grow cucumber, radish, corn, lettuce, yuca and plantains. This is an effort to make the center more self-sustainable and is an opportunity to teach the boys the art of farming and gardening.
Wilson has only been in Proniño for a few months. His family is incredibly poor so instead of staying in his overcrowded one room house he started sleeping on the street. The friends he met there first introduced him to huffing glue. The majority of kids on the street huff glue for the very real benefits it offers – it lessens the feelings of hunger and thirst, makes you feel happy and helps you fall asleep. But for many kids that start huffing, it doesn’t stop there. Wilson was introduced to harder drugs. Wilson is 11 years old and addicted to crack cocaine. He made money to pay for his habit by washing the windshield of cars at stoplights.
Seeing him play and laugh at Proniño he seems like a typical child, but he’s still fighting his addiction. He wrings his hands and rubs his feet together as he talks about missing the street – missing the drugs. He worries that he will never overcome this – that he’ll never be free. He says he thinks about it all day long – and that it wakes him up at night. He made a commitment to try to stay for two more weeks. But two weeks has turned into a month and he’s still hanging on. He’s starting to show just how strong he really is.
The reality is that I could do a picture and a story for every single child in Proniño. And even though so many of the stories are filled with sadness, there’s also so much strength, perseverance, wisdom and joy that the kids exhibit in surprising situations. There’s now one week left of the fundraiser…and we’re still very far from the goal. Any amount you can give would be so helpful and remember that all donations are tax-deductible. Woohoo! Click here to donate!