This week the blog is about a day behind. Laura and I have been very occupied moving into our new house. We have been absolutely giddy about finally having a place of our own. Ooh, to think of how completely our expectations have changed. We are living in a two room house with a kitchen in a living room that doubles as a bedroom. The living room / bedroom area is about 16 x 12 feet, and the kitchen area that is separated off the living room by a bar is about 6 x 10 feet. Oddly enough, this seems palatial, and we are having difficulty filling up the space. To be honest, there are two other closet size rooms. One features a shower, and the other, the toilet. We (and the rest of the town) don’t have any running water, so either of the functions generally performed in these rooms presently require a bucket of water drawn from our outside pila (small reservoir). We were overjoyed to see that our house featured a coffee machine. The excitement of this discovery almost overcame our disappointment that there is no microwave, stove, or oven. There is a hot plate and a toaster oven, and we have made the decision to dig deep into our limited resources and purchase a microwave (there is nothing so tasteless as a cold tortilla). But how special it was last night to fall asleep, being serenaded by the sound of a screaming evangelical preacher telling his congregation and most of the town the eternal cost of our sinfulness. Or to be awoken by the crowing roosters that walk our streets at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, and 5:00 AM. Sweet bliss. But seriously, it is nice to find our place – to fit as it were – and we really are overjoyed.
We also seem to be fitting in when it comes to our principal work with the older kids here. Red Viva (Living Net) is a newly formed organization here in Honduras that is trying to work with adolescents (15+) who are living in hogares (institutional homes). They bring the young kids together every couple of weeks or so at a different hogar where they open up a dialogue with them on the difficulties and challenges they are facing. I think probably the best thing about the program is that it brings these young people together. They know that they are not alone. Of course, our kids here face the additional challenge of being HIV + and all that entails. Still, the kids face the same challenge of how to find and develop independence and a self-sustaining life when you spent most of your life under the jurisdiction of an institution. Laura and I accompanied them to this last meeting this past Saturday in a little village called Cofradia about an hour outside of Tegucigalpa. The place was beautiful. These places usually are beautiful with many more amenities than you would likely find in the typical Honduran home. They lack one thing there, however. Parents. Parents, and or the single mothers, living in poverty, often feel that their children might have better opportunities, better education, better nutrition, etc. at one of the hogares than living with them. Sometimes one more mouth literally can’t be fed and the children are given up. Sometimes the state intervenes due to the severity of the neglect or abuse and the children are taken. The resulting abandonment is the same. Our kids here at Montaña de Luz have some similarities to those kids, and some differences as well. Many of our kids are truly orphans with both parents deceased, or the mother deceased and the father’s whereabouts unknown. Many of our kids have experienced, and yet may experience, severe health problems. All of them are chained to strict medication regimes and have to travel to a doctor’s appointment no less than once a month. Imagine living with all of that, being sixteen years old without a clue as to where life will lead you, and with even fewer prospects of ever finding employment.
Both Laura and I have been meeting with them, getting to know them. I’ve been meeting with some regularity with the older boys. They live only a few blocks from our home in their own house. Actually five of them came to our house last night as we were moving in because they needed to draw some water from our pila. They don’t even have the luxury of a pila because their’s leaks. I used to complain how miserable my life was because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. To return the favor for the gift of our water, this morning two of them returned to our house to clean up our yard where the hay had grown very high. Things are good for them, relatively speaking. Montaña de Luz is trying a new system, hiring a couple to work with them 24/7, rather than two Tias (aunts) who would come and go. This gives the boys more of a semblance of family and a consistency that yields security. They talk, they engage, they laugh. I’m certain they also cry. I think they like me with my grey hair and thick accent. I certainly like them. I like that they can have a sense of hope in what presents as a hopeless situation. All things are relative I guess. Thank God that the coffee machine works.