STORIES OF HOPE
The true reward for the good we do in the community is when we see the difference we make in an individual’s life. The waterfall effect of this impact is limitless and is shown in some of the stories below.
Technical Institute Graduate Returns to Teach at El Hogar
Medardo Cardona began his life, like many Honduran children, in a single room wooden house with a dirt floor, two beds and no running water. Throughout his childhood he shared this space with eight family members. Medardo’s mother supported her children with a ‘chiclera’, a tiny sweet stall similar to others located on every Tegucigalpa street corner. From an early age, Medardo had a love of art, and took joy in carving his own toys out of wood scraps he found in the street.
Although Medardo attended public school and was a good student, by the time he was 15 he no longer had the means to continue his schooling. Medardo and his mother learned of El Hogar’s Technical Institute and were grateful and delighted when he was accepted there.
Medardo worked diligently and was an excellent student at the Institute, where he grew in knowledge and confidence that he could have more chances in life. He graduated as a qualified electrician in 1999. Harkening back to his early love of art, Medardo went on to study for 3 years at the National School of Fine Arts in Tegucigalpa. He sold his work to support his studies, participated in national art exhibitions and won first place in a televised art competition.
Medardo kept his ties with El Hogar alive, and recently discovered that El Hogar was looking to hire an art teacher. Returning to the place that had given him so much at a critical point in his life, he was thrilled to be accepted as a new member of the teaching staff at El Hogar. Because of the poverty he experienced throughout his childhood, Medardo shares a deep understanding and appreciation of where the boys come from and he is a wonderful, breathing example of what they can become if they also work hard and take advantage of the opportunity they are being given.
A Letter from Juan Carlos Salgado to Director Claudia de Castro –
(Juan Carlos came to me when he was 6 years old and now he is almost 17 and is studying in his second year of carpentry in the technical school. He is an excellent student.)
Dear Director Claudia:
I want to say thank you very much for everything that you did for me. When I was thirsty, when I was hungry you fed me and gave me drink. When I didn’t have clothes you dressed me, because you love me. You were with me in good and bad times. You gave me an education. You changed my future and now my life is different. I have great opportunities.
I remember that when I was a little one, I was very sad because I missed my grandmother especially during Christmas, and you took me to your home and dried my tears and gave me your love. You made me feel much better and all of this is the reason why I love you a lot. You are very special in my life.
– Juan Carlos Salgado
Farm is Pride of the Village
Oscar Royel Diaz, 16, is in his last year of training at El Hogar Agricultural School but already his community is reaping the benefits of his education. After almost a five-hour bus journey followed by a forty-five minute trek on foot, a recent North American visitor to Oscar’s village discovered Oscar’s family’s farm was the talk of the surrounding community. Neighbouring farmers visit to learn the techniques Oscar has shared with his family.
Drip irrigation to conserve precious water (the country is now in its 18th month of a drought), use of animal waste as manure, and composting techniques all make for a more productive farm in an area which earlier used slash-and-burn methods. Oscar takes great pride in knowing his family members share the new-found agricultural knowledge with neighbors, thereby enhancing individual farms and the community-at-large. Oscar beamed with pride and delight when he learned his North American visitors had heard of the success of his family’s farm and its place of honour in his village.
Enzo Flores – A bright light
The other day during his free time Enzo Flores, age 8, asked a teacher for a broom because he enjoys doing chores. This is not the only thing that is unique about Enzo, who arrived at El Hogar at the end of January. When he arrived, Enzo was unable to bend his knee. Dr. Dario Zuniga, El Hogar’s physician, examined him a few hours after his arrival and took him to the hospital for emergency surgery the same day. With a diagnosis of osteomyelitis, a possibly fatal infection of the bone, he spent a month in the hospital on intensive antibiotics while recovering from the operation.
Not surprising to anyone who knows him, this lively, enterprising youngster even managed to enjoy and make good use of his time in the hospital. When visitors brought sweets for all the children, he went out into the streets, sold them and gave the money to his father. What a testament to his quick-wit and feelings of responsibility!
Before coming to El Hogar, Enzo was living with his 63 year-old-father and two younger sisters in a small rented one room ‘house’ with dirt floors, no running water or electricity. His father has serious heart problems and is unable to work. Enzo’s aunt sends $70 each month for the family; the rent takes $48 of it.
Enzo returned to El Hogar at the end of February with a full-length brace on his right leg. Did this slow him down or impede his enjoyment of sweeping, or even roller-skating and playing soccer? Not a bit. Two weeks after his return, the cast was removed and Enzo has been enjoying his initial weeks in first grade with his new friends.