Posted by: bartandannie | September 24, 2008

Stories for thought…

“Humanity can be divided into two groups: those who take life for granted (the non-poor) and those who cannot take life for granted (the poor).”  

– Jon Sobrino, No Salvation Outside of the Poor

We hope the following stories shed light on the quote above. Though poverty in Honduras is complex, the experiences we’ve had during the past few months have helped us to put a human face on the multiple factors that influence the lives of the poor.


No one can make Marisol’s two year-old brother laugh like she can. If he starts to cry, she’s the first one at his side–tickling, hugging, and comforting him. If he’s hungry, she finds a tortilla or some rice for him to eat. If he’s tired, she holds him and talks to him in a soothing voice. If he’s restless, she chases him around and plays games with him.



Marisol, who is only nine years old and is sponsored through CFCA, has assumed this mothering role out of love for her little brother and out of necessity. Their father abandoned the family and their mother is a resistolera, a drug addict who huffs glue to get high. Their grandmother takes care of Marisol and her little brother in the evenings, after a full day of selling vegetables at the market. Marisol’s life is full of violence-particularly when her father returns to bully her grandmother and mother. He is a drunk and, in Marisol’s presence, has tried to machetear (use a machete on) her grandmother. Marisol tells stories of life in her house calmly, not holding back any details, as if she doesn’t know that these things aren’t normal.

Upon receipt of the news that she and her brother could live in
Casa Hogar, Marisol jumped up and down with excitement. She told us how thrilled she was to have her own bed for the first time in her life. She also loved that the girls’ room is painted pink–her favorite color. She was relieved to hear that her little brother would live just across the hallway and that her grandmother could visit often. Moving into Casa Hogar will represent a great change in Marisol’s life. Not only will she have her own bed for the first time, but she’ll also be able to enjoy her childhood for the first time.


Nilson, a thirteen year-old sponsored boy with considerable soccer skills, is our next-door neighbor. Yesterday, he told us that he hasn’t attended school for over three weeks due to a teachers’ strike.



In Ocotepeque, the teachers’ strike, or huelga, began in the public elementary schools before progressing to the colegios, which are roughly equivalent to a combined middle and high school. Before the colegio teachers mobilized, however, their students decided to walk out of the classrooms in support of their instructors. According to the teachers, the national government has yet to adequately pay all teachers in Honduran schools. As the national teachers union and government negotiate, the children wait.

A minor casualty of this ongoing dispute was the Independence Day celebration on September 15th. As the Ocotepeque public schools were closed due to the strike, only the private schools participated in the annual parade. The parade lasted a brief 20 minutes. This impact, however, pales in comparison to the toll such strikes have on the education of Honduran youth, such as Nilson, who wish to study, but soon learn that factors outside of their control prevent them from doing so.

Melvin and Elmer

For three days, Melvin, father of a sponsored child, lay sick in the Arizona desert without water or food. When he heard the border patrol driving nearby, he walked towards their truck with his hands in the air, turning himself in for deportation. For three years prior to those painful days in the desert, Melvin had worked the dangerous job of nighttime bank security guard in order to save the money necessary to make the month-long journey to the U.S. He paid a coyote, a human smuggler, to guide him across the border and through the desert. The coyote took his money and abandoned Melvin. Those three days in the desert cost $6,000, three years of savings for Melvin and his family.

When he left for the U.S., his wife had just given birth to their son, Elmer. The family lives in a remote, mountain village where there are very few jobs available. Melvin wanted to provide his young wife and son with a more dignified life than he would be able to provide working as a day laborer in and around Ocotepeque. He is disappointed that couldn’t hold out longer in the desert, that he couldn’t seguir adelante (continue on) for his family’s sake.

After attending a reunión (a meeting for families of sponsored children) in Melvin’s community, he invited us and two other project staff members into his simple, adobe home for dinner. They set the small plastic table and laid out a delicious meal of roast chicken, vegetable soup, and tortillas and even bought each of us a Coke to drink. During our meal, two year-old Elmer chased baby chicks around the dirt floor. As we left that afternoon, Melvin gave us a bunch of about 20 bananas and invited us to visit them again soon.

Thanks for letting us share these stories with you.



  1. Keep them coming. We need to hear them. Is there some way to get these stories to people all over the world? What we complain about pales in comparison. I know I need to hear it. It really is the word of God that is speaking through your stories. Thanks for the humility, I needed that. Love you guys. Karen

  2. Karen, There is a way to get these stories out to the world–the internet and email! Always feel free to share our website with anyone you’d like and, if you’re not already following it, you should also check out the CFCA blog. It has a ton of stories and there are new ones at least once a week. There’s a link to the CFCA blog in the right sidebar of our main page–just click it and a new window should open with the CFCA blog. We’re so glad you like the stories we’re sharing. Make sure my brother is reading them from time to time. 🙂 Give the kids a hug for us. We LOVED them in the video you sent for Bart’s birthday. Thanks so much!

  3. Annie and Bart,
    These stories are amazing. They really help us keep our own day to day problems in perspective. You both write so beautifully that I felt I was sitting right there with you when you were visiting Melvin and Elmer, I could hear Marisol’s little brother laugh when she tickled him, as well as her voice soothing him when he was tired. My heart went out to Nilson who just ‘wants’ to go to school. Imagine kids in the US ‘wanting’ to go to school instead of complaining about ‘having’ to go to school. Keep the stories coming. They are food for our souls. Love you both. Mom, Laney

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