Founded in 2004 in El Progresso, Honduras, Hogar Suyapa is a permanent home for 41 children who often have been removed from their families for reason of abuse, neglect, or the criminal activity of their parents. Most of children who arrive are under the age of 4. They accept some children slightly older if they come with younger siblings or have special circumstances. For example the oldest girl is 16.
She arrived at the age of 13, dying of diabetes. No other center would take her. Both of her parents had died of AIDS. With proper medical care she is now a healthy, beautiful young woman, has her disease under control, and should have a good long life. Children are often received at the Hogar on a temporary basis. Police will remove children from a potentially dangerous situatino, and there is no facility in town for them to stay while the authorities investigate what is going on in the home. Stays for these children can last for one or two nights to as long as a month. Even those staying for just a couple nights leave with new clean clothes, shoes, a toy and a feeling of being rested for just a while. As these children come out of such chaos, just giving them a bath, getting rid of lice and parasites, and giving them a few days of good food can make a huge difference in their lives.
The stories of the children are both heart wrenching and inspiring. Meeting them, you would not suspect the tragic circumstances that brought them to the Hogar. At two weeks old, Maria Guadelupe arrived at Hogar Suyapa with dried glue around her mouth and face. The policeman who carried her in was well known at the orphanage as a very tough and strong character who dealt with criminals on a daily basis. But as he entered the Hogar, tears were streaming down his face. Director Ana Aleman couldn’t imagine what had moved him until to her horror she saw the dried glue. You see, drug addicts sniff glue in order to stop hunger pains or to get high. The mother had evidently forced the little baby to sniff glue in lieu of feeding her. Glue causes severe brain damage as it basically kills brain cells. When the child was taken to the neurologist, they were told that the damage was severe and to not expect the child to either walk or talk.
For the first year of her life, Maria Guadelupe was a quiet and withdrawn baby. She would not smile nor look directly at anyone. She basically just lay in her crib. Staff continually stimulated and talked to her but with little success. The orphanage staff refused to give up. Two nannies were assigned to be with the child 24 hours a day. They were told to rock the child, sing to her, tickle her, and do everything they could think of to get her attention. After two months of intensive contact, the child finally began to respond. Today, at age 5, Lupita is a friendly little girl. She smiles and laughs, talks and sings, and has a great empathy for the younger children, loving to help feed them and play with them. All the nannies adore her and she knows that she is safe within her Hogar family.
The Hogar has an on-site primary school, Escuela Santa Maria de Suyapa, which teaches through the second grade. In 2013 the school will expand to the third grade. In the fourth grade, children move into the public school system. The goal is to give the children some years of intensive schooling within a secure environment. After the traumas that many of them have endured the orphanage feels it’s critical to keep their early life under observation and control. By the fourth grade they are more emotionally prepared to deal with the ¨real world.”
The World Orphan Fund is raising funds to pay for the new third grade teacher. The cost is $6,000 per year. If you would like to donate to this project, visit our donation page and select “Hogar Suyapa” from the program designation menu.