Last Thursday, I, along with a team from all over the USA, Douglas, Mizael, and Henry, experienced something that we all likely will never forget. We visited an orphanage in San Pedro Sula from where four of our Providence Children came. The experience was even more eye-opening than I thought it would be and it confirmed that there is a huge need to improve orphan care in Honduras, which is what we are working on through the La Providencia model.
The experience also confirmed to me that something is not always better than nothing, particularly when the "something" is terrible, yet gives the illusion that something positive is being done for the kids. Here are some snippets of the issues we saw:
- The bedrooms had holes in the ceiling because the kids were trying to “escape” (word used by the orphanage worker).
- The inside courtyard windows had bars on them because the kids were trying to get out.
- There were 143 kids in a 120 capacity place.
- The budget is $3,000/month, 80% of which goes to payroll; so they put $600/month to care for 143 kids. That is about $3.50/month per kid.
- The “nursery” had about 25 cribs in two small rooms with many cribs holding two children who were severely malnourished and lacking in love.
- There were also special needs children in the nursery. One awful situation had a 10 or 11 year old kid just sitting in a crib, Indian-style, staring into space.
Most of these kids are not being cared for at all - this is not the fault of the loving and well-intentioned workers. It results from the lack of resources and a society that, on the whole, simply doesn’t care about orphans, treating them as sub-human, as trash. While they appear to have school, food, and "helpers," they are lacking almost everything they really need -- families, touch, a real education. medical care, and real hope. They are kept from the world, behind the walls. It is tragic and hard to see. Especially when you contrast it with La Providencia and what loving orphan care can look like. And when you know that the only thing standing in the way of loving care like LP is money and a true belief that these kids are human beings, the same as all of us.
Lord, help us to have wisdom and discernment to know how to develop La Providencia and share the model so that we together can improve orphan care. Then, we won’t have to see orphanages like the one in San Pedro Sula any longer. That is my prayer.