By Maria Nunez
Imagine that your school consisted of four twigs and a tin roof. No walls to protect you against the elements or a floor on which you could walk without getting dirt between your toes.
Imagine you were a child and had to go to school inside a bar, surrounded by empty beer bottles and crowded with kids, some older and some younger.
It sounds outrageous, right? Well this is life for many students in Honduras.
Thousands of children have to attend schools similar to the one just mentioned, others have to walk miles to reach the neighboring villages with schools, and others simply don’t have the chance to go at all.
In recent years, we have heard about the abundance of problems that plague Honduras: coups, drug trafficking, corruption and poverty. One of the biggest problems is the prevalence of gangs in the lives of young boys and girls. Most of these children are born from a single mothers who work all day for less than a minimum wage, or approximately $150 per month. Due to a lack of proper care, children tend to skip school and instead seek out gang membership to feel as though they belong to a group.
To combat these problems, Students Helping Honduras (SHH) has set out on a mission to build 1,000 schools in rural villages by the year 2020. A few AU students had the opportunity to travel abroad this winter break and help construct some of these schools. These students spent a week mixing cement, shoveling sand and carrying cement blocks. Most importantly they made connections with the children who will study in the schools, and with other volunteers from across the U.S.
SHH Treasurer Gabriela Christie said that the most valuable lesson she learned was understanding how fortunate she was. “I see kids in the U.S. crying for not getting the latest iPhone,” Christie said, “but the kids of [the school they built] Eben Ezer didn’t even have shoes and carried the most radiant smiles one could imagine.”
As a citizen of Honduras, I had never felt hope for my country until I worked with SHH. It is one of the reasons I decided to change my major to the School of International Service.
If you’re looking for a cause to pursue or a place to travel to, feel welcome to join SHH. You don’t even have to be a member to travel abroad to Honduras and spend a week filled with all kinds of cultural experiences, from making baleadas and going to the beach to learning Spanish and helping a country in need.
Also, if you are interested in Honduras and the problems facing the country, join us March 7 at 8 p.m. in MGC 200 for “Honduras 101,” a discussion on issues plaguing the country such as political instability, poverty and human rights, as well as brainstorm ideas to raise awareness. SHH will provide pizza. In addition, Honduras’ ambassador to the U.S. will be attending AU on March 19 at 6 p.m. in Ward 2.
If discussions are not your cup of tea and you just want to travel, there will be an info session on March 21 at 8 p.m. in room 115 of Bender Library to plan for the upcoming trip this winter. This is a great opportunity to travel to a tropical paradise, meet people from across the U.S. and really make a difference in the lives of many Honduran children.
Maria Nunez is a sophomore in the School of International Service.