Fall 2014 Newsletter

Fall 2014
Fernando’s Story
The call of the streets
The streets of San Pedro Sula, second largest city in Honduras, teem with anger, violence and despair. These hot,
dirty streets are familiar to Fernando Jose Vayejo Baca. Yes, his mom Belkis and two younger brothers share a
small shack made of rough boards and plastic, and Fernando is supposed to be spending his days in school. But
school is more often closed than open due to teacher strikes. When he does go to his overcrowded class Fernando
sits in the back, where escape to the outside is easy. Older
tough guys wearing chains and guns beneath their jackets call
out to him, “Hey brother, want to make some easy money?”
Fernando is tempted. School holds little interest, his mom
cannot find work and is always struggling to find enough
food for her boys. Easy money sounds good.
Then Fernando and his brothers find themselves living in
Tegucigalpa, the largest city in Honduras, where Belkis feels
work might be easier to find. Their shack here is a lot like the
one in San Pedro Sula and Belkis’ work is spotty at best:
ironing clothes, cutting weeds with a machete, selling tortillas
on the street. Although some family live in Tegucigalpa, life
here remains a daily struggle. Fernando is spending even more time out of class and when he is not looking after
his brothers for his mom, he is out in the gang-infested streets. Belkis worries about his poor grades, his restless
friends and his growing attitude of rebelliousness. In the still of the night, Belkis’ heart is heavy and she fears what
will become of her sons…
A new struggle
Through a friend Belkis learns of a school that accepts young students who live in dire poverty, a school and
residence that requires no money of her – El Hogar. Belkis brings home an application for Fernando to fill out but
anguishes over his bad grades and even whether the family is actually poor enough to qualify. Belkis does work
occasionally here in Tegucigalpa, earning about $4 per day. She looks around at her 13-inch TV and the electric
light strung by a bare wire attached to an old battery for power, and considers the fact that her family of four has
two beds. Is this too much? But Fernando is accepted as a first-year student at the Technical Institute of El Hogar!
Belkis rejoices. Fernando is very apprehensive.
A few weeks at El Hogar prove his worst fears to be true—the classes are much too difficult; he just hadn’t
attended enough school to know the material and keep up. Plus the days are structured and at El Hogar students
are expected to adhere to basic rules of self-responsibility and respect for others. He doesn’t fit in. Fernando longs
for the freedom of the streets and considers escaping to the gangs who are so eager to take him in. They don’t
expect good grades or respectful behavior. Fernando is certain he doesn’t have what it takes to stay at El Hogar.
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He doesn’t even want to, he feels too angry and worthless. He daydreams through classes, he doesn’t hand in
assignments. Once again his grades are poor and people are disappointed in him. One day, after three months at
El Hogar, Fernando receives a weekend-long detention and is not allowed to return home to visit his mom and
brothers. This is the last straw. Fernando makes plans for his escape…
Something turns
Fernando finds himself alone much of the time during his weekend of detention.
Now that he can’t see them, he longs for his mom and brothers. Even if all he gets to
eat at home during the weekend is a few cold tortillas, his family provides familiarity.
Here, at El Hogar, he is miserable. Fernando knows that his life at home was heading
to a bad place, but El Hogar demands too much. Fernando wrestles with himself; on
one hand the pull of the street is strong, and on the other hand he can see that El
Hogar is offering him something very unusual for kids like him—a new start. If only
he could take it. Not only does he get plenty of good food at El Hogar, he has to
admit he is surrounded by boys a lot like him, but who for the most part seem happy
and content with their lives there, excited even. His teachers seem to genuinely care
about them—about him. He is learning welding, something actually useful with which
he could someday get a good job.
Slowly Fernando’s head and heart become clear. Perhaps for the first time in his life, he begins to see a direction
that excites him with its possibility. Unlike the prospect of gang life, which along with the money, offered real
danger and likely a short and violent life, Fernando sees that El Hogar is offering him the chance to turn his life
around, to feel good about himself, to see himself as a young man with choices about his future, a future that
could be very different from his childhood of hunger and misery. Fernando promises himself he will try harder in
school, give his classmates and teachers a chance to reach him, open his heart a little more, and take that risk. By
the time his weekend of detention is over, Fernando feels excited and a little apprehensive about applying his newfound resolve. With a new attitude and some goals, can he do well enough to survive at El Hogar…?
Life begins
After that weekend of detention, Fernando’s teachers can see in him something new.
They offer him tutoring help with his classes and Fernando eagerly accepts it. Slowly
classwork gets easier. Fernando begins to have friends and his rebelliousness turns more
into playful mischievousness. Never receiving another detention, during his weekends at
home Fernando offers to help his mom with chores, cutting weeds, and even helps his
younger brothers with homework. Belkis’ heart pounds with hope and pride in her
changed son. She listens to his dreams of a different life for them all and barely allows
herself to imagine it. Time will tell, but there is something very different about her son.
He seems happier, more confident, gentler and even proud of himself and his improved
grades and attitude. He has hope—for himself, his family and his future. There is talk of his younger brother
perhaps entering El Hogar next year too. Hope is something new for all of them, and it is tentatively infectious. At
El Hogar, Fernando discovers a best friend, a fellow welding student. They are talking about starting a business
together after graduating. Hope begins with a seed …
Scientists at El Hogar
At a district-wide Science Fair, El
Hogar students Yener, Eliazar, Rene
and Gabriela demonstrate how the
respiratory system works.
Yoseidy, Angel, Cristofer and Fernando
create ecological lamps out of limes.
21 Cummings Park Drive, Suite 238, Woburn, MA 01801
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Remembering Jocie Rohde
There is a scene in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird in which Jem and Scout have watched their father, Atticus Finch,
defend a man against incredible odds. The trial ends and all fall silent as Atticus leaves the courtroom. The people
in the balcony rise to their feet and when Scout asks why, she is told “Stand up child, your father is passing.”
If it is true that we measure a person by the profound impact she had on the lives of others and the legacy of love
and service she leaves behind, then we figuratively stand and honor Jocie Rohde, a truly remarkable woman.
For nine years, 1987-1996, she and her husband John served as Co-Executive Directors of El Hogar Projects in
Honduras. Quickly, the depth of Jocie’s love for and devotion to the
children became evident. Hers was a full participation in the lives of the
children. If there was a need for a hug, she was there. If a tear needed
wiping and the child’s reason for crying needed to be shared, she listened.
If it was evident a child was missing his mom, she heard his grief and
‘became’ his mom. When a child had no one to shoot baskets or kick a
soccer ball with, she became his ‘buddy’. If a boy required a haircut, Jocie
the barber was there. Additionally, the staff appreciated her intellect, her
interest in them and her passion to enable them to become the best
teachers they could be.
Vividly I recall the first time I met Jocie and John. Her joie de vivre,
unstoppable energy and passionate devotion to the well-being of the children and staff were palpable.
Possessor of such marvelous gifts and graces, little wonder she was such a superb ambassador for El Hogar in
sharing its story and fundraising.
Whenever I ponder Jocie’s time at El Hogar it comes to mind that she gave veracity to what Robert Louis
Stevenson once said “A person is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much, who has gained the
respect of other intelligent people and the love of children, who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or
failed to express it, who looked for the best in others and gave the best she had.”
In grateful remembrance we stand up and affirm with hope and faith that death is not extinguishing of the light,
but a putting out of the lamp of Jocie’s life here, because the dawn of Jocie’s new life with God has begun.
- The Rev. Dr. David Winsor, former co-director of El Hogar Projects, Honduras
Birthday Dreams
As part of our program "Goals and Dreams,” on their birthdays our children dress up to show what they dream
for their futures. Jose Antonio, Erick Samuel, and Rosali want to become agricultural engineers. Franklin
Alexander wants to become a soccer player and Jairo Estuardo wants to become a karateca.
21 Cummings Park Drive, Suite 238, Woburn, MA 01801
[email protected]
Day of the Child
Honduras’ Day of the Child is celebrated inside the gates of El Hogar with food, games and gifts. However,
outside in the streets children are hungry and begging for food. Being acutely aware of this, the El Hogar children
asked their teachers to open the gates and bring in children from the street who were searching through trash
containers. Ten children came in and shared their difficult stories.
El Hogar student Gabriel said to one,
“My life was just like yours; I was
searching in the trash too. But I want to
let you know that your life can change.
Don’t give up. Fight for your dream.”
The El Hogar children helped these ten
to shower, they shared clothes and shoes
with them, gave them food and cut their
hair, caring for these visitors the way they are cared for every day at El Hogar.
Happy Thanksgiving from El Hogar
Thanksgiving is almost here; the holiday rush will soon be upon us.
As we pause to spend time with family and friends
- to be thankful for the many gifts in our lives know that we at El Hogar are thankful for you.
Your support has enabled our children in Honduras to thrive and
grow. Through you and the teachers and staff at El Hogar, our
children know love and have a bright future.
Thank you for making a difference!
El Hogar’s Office Has Moved!
We have moved our Massachusetts office
over to the next town, from Winchester to
Woburn, in order to have a bit more space
and room to grow. Our phone, email
addresses and website all remain the same.
Our mailing address is now:
El Hogar Ministries
21 Cummings Park Drive, Suite 238
Woburn, MA 01801
El Hogar is Home for the Holidays
When the El Hogar school year ends in the middle of November, some of
our students go to stay with their families for the 10-week school break.
But many of them either have no home to go to or their home is unsafe
for them. These students, of all grades, stay together at the elementary
campus. For them, El Hogar is indeed their home for the holidays.
This holiday season, you can play a part in the holiday life of the El Hogar
children. A gift for Home for the Holidays will go toward the enrichment
activities of those El Hogar children who remain with us for the school
break. These include a special Christmas dinner, trips to a park, a museum,
a pool, soccer tournaments, and more throughout the 10 week break.
Join us and learn more at:
Please start your Amazon shopping at the
El Hogar website: www.elhogar.org and
click on the word Amazon on the top
right of the Home Page.
Amazon pays El Hogar 4 to 12% of your
purchase at NO cost to you or to us.
El Hogar Gift Catalogue
Give a gift in honor of your family and friends
through our Gift Catalogue at www.elhogar.org and
click on ’Ways to Give’.
21 Cummings Park Drive, Suite 238, Woburn, MA 01801
[email protected]