A Growing Family
A cross-country journey brings 17 children with special needs into the NPH Honduras family.
Reported by Arielle Augustin
Communications Officer, NPH Honduras
March 14, 2019
It was mid-November 2018 when NPH Honduras got a call from Honduras’ child welfare agency (DINAF) informing us that a center in San Pedro Sula was being shut down for malpractice and 17 boys, ages 11 to 21, would need a new home.
Just 10 months before, however, we had welcomed eight children from a similar situation in Catacamas, which brought our main home in Tegucigalpa to full capacity, with just enough government support to contract extra personnel and provide for their medical care. A sudden increase in our special needs population, let alone one of this size, would surely cause big changes.
With the clear desire to help, yet with the limitations on our capacity to serve in mind, department heads met in December to brainstorm alternatives that would yield the best possible solution for these children.
But phone calls kept coming saying that the situation was getting worse. We wanted to do something as soon as possible. If we didn’t, it was likely that the children would have stayed in their situation much longer than they should have, as very few childcare organizations in Honduras offer the individualized attention to children with special needs as NPH does.
Shifting gears, we asked ourselves “What do we need to do to make this possible?” This spawned a series of meetings between our national director, medical providers, physical therapists, finance team, teachers, home directors, and special needs specialists. They pitched ideas, made plans, and calculated costs. We negotiated with the government for more support, and when we realized that we still wouldn’t be able to absorb the full cost, we asked for and received a donation from the World Orphan Fund (WOF), which will cover the children’s care for the next two years.
During the early hours of January 18, our staff began a five-hour trek northbound to San Pedro Sula. No one was quite sure what to expect, so we prepared for the worst, while hoping for the best.
Within moments of arriving, NPH staff and volunteers were greeted by the boys. They set up their stations and began evaluating, feeding, and playing with them, while government officials went through technical procedures. The care, patience, and efficiency with which our team worked took everyone else by surprise.
Said one man present – the volunteer who placed many of the boys within the center and had been working closely with them since their arrival – “I was hoping that God would open the door for a better place … and it seems like he did [with NPH]. It’s bittersweet, but I have hope.”
Then, with the 17 new members of the NPH family ready to go, a caravan of ambulances, trucks, and a bus full of NPH staff, as well as representatives of the Red Cross, the Ministry of Health, DINAF, a disaster relief organization (COPECO), and the fire department drove back down the foothills of the Merendón mountains to NPH Honduras, where the boys would be welcomed to their new home.
Nurses, doctors, and social workers were waiting at the NPH clinic when the boys arrived. They did their best to welcome the boys and make them feel at home as the final documents were signed and the first medical exams began.
The next day 10 of them moved into their new home, San Andrés, which had been thoughtfully prepared and decorated by their new caregivers. Shortly after that, the remaining seven were moved to our other special needs homes: San Juan de la Salle and Casa Enmanuel in our main location and Casa Ángeles in Tegucigalpa.
Happy and well adjusted, it’s hard to imagine that these children had gone through such a significant change and had been living under objectionable conditions beforehand. Despite the many challenges that NPH faced in the process of making them a part of our family, they are here.
Assistant National Director Steve O’Mahony summarizes it best, “We were able to say ‘yes’ and now there are 17 kids whose lives were completely changed because people were willing to help.”
Photo above: Javier* shares smiles with medical personnel during his ride to NPH Honduras. Photos below: A caravan of ambulances, trucks, and buses arrives to NPH carrying the new arrivals, NPH staff, and government officials; Casa San Andrés, a newly reconstructed living space, will serve as a home for the majority of the new arrivals; “You have to have patience and teach them little by little,” says Eric, Mayco*’s caregiver, as he walks him through house chores.
*Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.