My plan in mid-May was to take down a suitcase of items to the kids in Emmanuel, nail down where the World Orphan Fund can help the orphanage and mostly just love on the children. It had only been four months and I already missed them terribly. My cab driver Norman got me to Emmanuel in about one and a half hours. This was less than half the time it took us to get there by bus in January. His speedometer didn’t work, but based on the RPMs we were often doing 90 MPH. It was great.
The kids were surprised to see me so soon, and we spent lots of time together talking, laughing and playing. I had great conversations with both Wade the director of the orphanage and founders Lydia and David Martinez. With all the sickness being brought on by the change in seasons the vast amount of Pedialyte and other items in my extra suitcase were welcomed with smiles. Unlike what they had been using, it was flavored, and that made it much easier to get the kids to drink it. I saw lots of Junior and Kency. Chris and Allan Thomas were down for a month and I was able to spend tons of time with them too. It was going well.
Then things took a turn.
At 11:30 AM on Saturday I started receiving concerned text messages from family members in Florida. My Dad, who had been suffering from dementia had stopped eating and drinking. At 11:30 that night I was told he probably wouldn’t make it to the end of the month. I started making plans to go directly to St. Petersburg from Honduras. An later hour my Dad died. I was dumbfounded. In the middle of the Honduran night I just broke down and cried.
The next morning I went to Church with the kids. Lot’s of tears there too. But afterwards I was surrounded by the children and they poured out their love like they always do. It held me up.
Later in the afternoon I went for a walk with my oldest sponsor child Mersy and told her that my father had died that morning. She looked very sad and asked me if it was really true. I said yes. She took my hand and held it as we walked. She understood my loss better than anyone else possibly could.
Our Work Begins
The main purpose of this trip was to talk with Wade, Lydia and David about how the World Orphan Fund can help at Emmanuel. I came away with three projects.
- Higher Education. We will work with Emmanuel to identify sponsor families in the U.S. for children to attend U.S. High Schools and ultimately College; find the necessary funding for their education because by law they must attend private schools; and work with U.S. based companies in Honduras so they have job opportunities in Honduras after graduation. Six children have been identified as excellent prospects and it is our hope to begin placing kids by the 2013-2014 school year. Estimated cost per child: $10,000 per year.
- Clean Water. Emmanuel has seen significant growth in the past two years and it’s putting an enormous stress on their water supply. Our goal is to fund an additional well. Estimated cost: $20,000.
- Adequate Housing. Emmanuel’s growth has also put an enormous strain on housing, particularly with the toddlers. They will soon need additional space. The World Orphan Fund will assist with funds to help build additional housing at the Orphanage at the appropriate time. Estimated cost: TBD.
Mersy Turns Fifteen
Mersy and I built a lot of trust between us on this trip. It’s really weird how we totally get each other, it’s like she was meant to be my kid.
Mersy on her 15th Birthday. Daysha Clark (pictured) did her hair.
Back in January I had learned how important her Quinceañera was to her. In her culture, turning 15 is a HUGE deal for a girl. Dunia Lopez told me how Mersy was dreaming of a big party for her 15th birthday and was saving up her money for it. She had saved maybe 10 dollars. A party would cost 20 times that.
With Lydia and Wade’s permission, I left money at the Orphanage to pay for the festivities. Mersy and I looked in Guaimaca for a dress but had no luck. I then frantically called Dunia who immediately agreed to meet me at the airport in Tegucigalpa and find the dress there. Dunia was so excited she went out and found the dress the very next day and later took the long bus ride from Tegucigalpa to Guaimaca to deliver it to Mersy. So in June, thanks to help from everyone at the orphanage and Dunia Lopez, Mersy had her dream party. I can’t wait to hear about it on my next trip.