Some of you may have noticed that I have been largely silent about Nueva Esperanza for the last, oh, six or seven months. Wow, has it been that long?? There have been some major changes in the government home that I’m still working on wrapping my head around. These changes are good? I think? That’s what I’m still figuring out.
So, here’s what happened
In early November, an electrical fire started in the ceiling of the girls’ dorm and caused much damage here and in the adjacent clinic. Thankfully, all of the kids got out of the building safely. I had visions of terrified and traumatized children fleeing building while screaming. But when I talked to them, they all seemed fairly indifferent about the whole thing. “Yeah, there was a fire… We waited outside… A bus came to get us…” That’s about the extent of the stories I got.
At first, all of the kids were moved to a vacant center called Eden. (What is it with these government centers having such hopeful names???) Eden is where all of the children were, many years ago, before Nueva Esperanza was built. The reason Nueva was built was due to the overcrowding in Eden. And now Nueva is overcrowded. So, overcrowded Nueva was moved to Eden where they were absolutely bursting at the seams as the administration scrambled to find permanent locations for the kids.
One of the rooms in Eden
In December, nearly 100 of the kids were moved to a home an hour outside of Tegucigalpa called Orphanage Emmanuel. The addition of the kids from Nueva have brought the total up to around 600 or 650 kids in the home. This is a small city! Others were placed here and there in smaller children’s homes. And others are…I don’t know where.
In January, I finally got to see the kids again. On my first day, I went to Eden to see the remaining kids from Nueva who hadn’t been placed elsewhere. It was actually pretty incredible. There were only about 40 kids there, and the majority of them are disabled. But there seemed to be the same amount of employees, so these workers who usually had to care for 170ish kids were now caring for 40. And the difference was obvious. The kids had less rashes, were cleaner and the most remarkable thing – they were calmer. There are many non-verbal kids who were speaking a few words. A boy named Josue who is usually fairly frantic and one time hauled off and bopped Sean in the head (which was actually pretty funny) spent nearly 30 minutes sitting by my side, leaning against me. This never would have happened before. It’s amazing how therapeutic just a little bit more safety and attention can be.
I have spent so much time wondering what would really make a difference in a place like Nueva Esperanza. Is it actually possible for it to ever be a good place? There is still so much need, but I was amazed to see the difference it makes just to have a manageable amount of children. And the new kids who have arrived have been spending their time playing games together (like spontaneous rounds of blob tag) instead of terrorizing each other. It’s not perfect, but it’s not so clearly survival of the fittest anymore either.
From what I’ve heard, the repairs in Nueva Esperanza are pretty much complete.
The team who painted at Nueva. Look at those bright colors!
This means that the kids will probably be moved back soon. The facilities are nicer at Nueva. They have more grassy areas to play in. Not to mention the fairly incredible playground. But once there’s space again, I know the center will fill up…then overflow. And then there will be 170 kids to 5 or so employees and it’ll all start over. The unfortunate reality is that there will probably never be a lack of children that could be placed in a home due to abuse, financial situations or abandonment. But I do think that I’m learning a huge lesson. Adult to child ratio is very important. So, what now? Should I talk to the administration about raising money for more employees who will help make that ratio more manageable? Do I ask you to start praying about starting a small children’s home in which you can provide a safe and encouraging environment to these neglected children? Does someone need to step up and focus on prevention so something can be done before it gets to the point that the kids are in a home?
I ask, or maybe even beg, for your prayers in this. Prayers for direction, clarity, support, vision, partnerships… These kids deserve so much better.