Street Kids (Comayagua, Honduras)

“I was in the USA,” Manuel told me, “but one day immigration caught me and deported me back here.”

“How was it in the USA?” I asked.

“I liked it there.  One day I hope to go back – the work is a lot easier there than here.  In the US, I just had to wash dishes and mow lawns.  Here in Honduras, I have to carry bricks and other heavy stuff all day.  It’s a lot harder.”

We landed into another world today – a world completely unknown to us.

Weeks ago, when we were in Omoa, we met some volunteers for a center for street kids here in Comayagua.

“When you pass through Comayagua,” they invited, “please come stay with us for a few days.  Our kids have never seen anything like what you are doing!”

And so it was that, four weeks later, we showed up at the center and were immediately welcomed by the staff and kids.  All four boys immediately ran out into the field for a rousing game of soccer with the kids, while we adults tried to figure out exactly what it was that we had stumbled into.

As it turns out, Horizontes al Futuro is a home for street kids  – kids that come from families too poor to support them.  They are not orphans, but their parents have approached the center and asked for help.  Some of the kids have simply been approached on the street by staff at the center.  The kids are allowed to live at the center for as long as they need to – provided their behavior is in line.

“My mother brought me here when I was nine,” seventeen year old Hugo told us.  “I had never gone to school up til then, so I started first grade when I was ten years old.   I stayed here two years, but then my behavior went down the drain so they kicked me out.  I went back to La Ceiba and spent two years there.”

“What did you do in La Ceiba?”

“Nothing,” came the reply.  “I lived in the streets again and went right back to my old ways – smoking marijuana and stealing.  Then I decided I didn’t want that, so I came back.  Now I’m in school – but I still have many, many years to go.”

Each of the 42 kids here in the center have their own, unique story, and I’ve been fascinated to learn some of them.

On our way into town, we saw what looked like a refugee camp – but there are no refugees here.  I asked what that tent city was all about.

“It’s what we call an invasion or occupation,” the director of the center told me.  “One of our boys spent two years in one like that.  The families live in inhumane conditions – sometimes for years on end.  They find an abandoned piece of land that is not being used for anything and set up camp – in the hopes that they can eventually get the land.  They can’t build anything, but they can plant a small garden – they grow their own corn and beans usually.

“But they live there on the land in makeshift tents – made of plastic tarps, cardboard, or whatever else they can round up.  When it rains, they get wet.  When it’s cold, they get cold.  Nobody should have to live like that.  Our boy who lived there with his mother eventually got kicked off – after two years of suffering in order to try to get the land.  It’s horrible.”

When dinner time came, all nine of us (Anja is back with us again) were invited into the dining room to eat with the kids.  I found myself at a table with five kids under the age of ten.  Four of them handed their stack of tortillas to one boy who surreptitiously snuck them into his pocket.

“What are you going to do with all those tortillas?” I asked him.

“I have cheese in my room!” he told me with a mischievous smile.  “We’ll eat tortillas and cheese tonight.”

He had spent the day with his mother, and she had bought him a bit of cheese.

“I’ve got a mountain of cheese!” he declared.  “It’ll be really good tonight!”

But the kid I was most fascinated with was Manuel – the one who had gone to the USA.

“How did you go there?” I asked.

“In bus and train,” he told me.  “I saved up about 2500 lempira to pay for the fares to get to Tijuana.  Once I got there, I set out walking through the mountains to get into the USA.  I walked all night – all night.  By the time I reached the highway in the USA my feet were bleeding and I was crying.  I met a woman and begged her to help me.  She helped me find work.  I wanted to stay there, but then immigration came and sent me back.  Someday I’ll go back.  I’m trying to save money for the journey now.”

We will stay here tomorrow as well, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the kids.  They seem very willing to tell us their stories, so I can’t wait to sit down with them and listen!

Kilometers today:  37
Kilometers to date:  12963

The whole caravan makes its way to Comayagua

The whole caravan makes its way to Comayagua

Creativity.  Poverty leads to some creative thinking - check out the stove where she is cooking tortillas.

Creativity.  Poverty leads to some creative thinking – check out the stove where she is cooking tortillas.

The invasion outside Comayagua

The invasion outside Comayagua

The boys played soccer with the kids from the center.

The boys played soccer with the kids from the center.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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5 Responses to Street Kids (Comayagua, Honduras)

  1. Rachel Hugens May 5, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    Hi Nancy,
    I have a colleague that sails, he mentioned there’s an organization called seaknots.com that is like facebook for sailors that perhaps you could network with.

    [Reply]

  2. Rachel Hugens May 5, 2009 at 4:34 pm #

    http://seaknots.com/
    Check out this site for possible alternatives around the Darian gap…it’s like facebook for sailors

    [Reply]

  3. maria jose May 8, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    HEY GUYS I was in the mall of Honduras with all my friends and we are so sorry to run away so we are so but so sorry.

    FROM ALL MY FRIENDS

    [Reply]

  4. your friends from antares May 8, 2009 at 6:36 pm #

    Hi! Davy and Daryl sorry about what happenned in the mall, we were very shy. Nice to meet you hope we can see us another time. Good luck on your journey:D

    [Reply]

  5. Mariana (Another girl of Antares) May 9, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

    Hi!! What’s Up? Good Luck in your journey! Love ya! xD Hope to meet you! In Antares 6th grade A … :p Byee!! Mariana

    [Reply]

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