This is my last official Ornaments for Education post. But, if you happen to be reading this after Christmas, don’t you worry. You can still donate. And then you can use your ornament as a holiday rearview mirror decoration in your car! Don’t you think your rearview mirror looks a little lonely? I’ve been trying to figure out a nice way to tell you that. Good thing I’ve got this fundraiser going to use as a cover!
My last slightly education related story is about Mario. But it actually starts with Maynor. Maybe I should call this May-rio, or Mar-nor. Maynor was one of the first grandes (older boys) that I got to know. A little over a year ago he was a featured guest in this blog. (Read about him here.) If you didn’t just click on that link, let me summarize for you. Maynor is one of my all time favorite kids who spent more than a decade of his life in one children’s home or another – with no contact whatsoever with his family. Being 19 years old, he was going to have to leave Proniño soonish and was exceptionally worried since he had no options and no support system. Until he was taken on an excursion, found his family, and was welcomed with open arms. [End blog post from a year ago.]
[Enter Mario] Mario is Maynor’s little brother. When Maynor visited his hometown he discovered that Mario and two of his cousins were living in a very sad little children’s home. Maynor had decided that he was going to stay and work in Proniño and got permission to bring all three of these boys back with him to Progreso. So, Maynor, who hadn’t had family in over 10 years suddenly was one of four. (Content sigh.) And I met Mario. In our first meeting I was stunned to see some small traits of Maynor in his little brother. They have the same gait when they walk, furrow their eyebrows the same way when confused and sigh like old men when they sit down. They were essentially strangers and yet clearly brothers.
Mario came to Proniño in January. Maynor decided to return to Colon in May. Talk about unfortunate timing. For most of their lives, Mario was in Colon and Maynor was somewhere else. They were together for four months. Then Maynor goes to Colon and Mario is somewhere else. I’m so, so thankful that I was in Honduras when Maynor left. I was able to help him lug all of his earthly belongings to the bus station and cried like a baby as we said goodbye.
When I returned to Proniño, Mario was in an English class with my friend Kyree. She pulled me aside when I popped my head in and said the he had been fighting tears all morning. I asked him to come with me and we sat in an empty classroom and talked. By ‘talked’ I mean that I’d ask him questions and he’d stare at the ground as his adam’s apple bobbed up and down in an attempt to hold it together. Maynor’s biggest fear was that Mario would run away from Proniño in an attempt to return to Colon. But he doesn’t know the way, would have no money and the length of the trip would exponentially increase the dangers. So, I asked Mario to make a list of pro’s and con’s about Proniño. More adam’s apple bobbing.
“We have food.”
Bob…And then the floodgates opened.
“In Proniño we have everything that we need, but we do not have family.”
Heartbreaking and yet true. I’ve been torn so, so many times. Clearly, it is better for a child to grow up in a family environment. Sometimes the children’s homes I visit can feel a bit like summer camp. Games, playing with your friends, giggling as you fall asleep. Then I remember that this is their life. There is no telling mom and dad about all the fun they had at the end of the week. This is it. And if we can’t fix their family or provide them with a surrogate then we better work as hard as we possibly can to prepare them to take control of their lives as adults. There are a number of ways we can do this, but this post is about education. We need to educate them. We need to make sure that something darn good is going to come from them having this non-ideal childhood. And this year, the cost of that is $24,000. To donate towards this lofty goal, please click here.
And just to end this on a happier note – Mario is doing much better. He’s very shy and quiet so I often worry that there’s sooooo much more going on in that head than he’s sharing with anyone. But he’s in art class and is excellent. In December, he escorted me through a muddy patch of the driveway and was singing his head off, very unlike the first Mario I met. And I do believe that there is a family visit in his near future. But, shhhh! He doesn’t know about it yet…