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A New Place to Learn

Field Report by Elisa Preston

HONDURAS – When a young student sets out to learn the basics—ABCs, 1-2-3—it is important for them to first have proper nutrition, a roof overhead, clean clothing, and suitable footwear. Yet, in Santa Barbara, Honduras, children are often vulnerable to extreme poverty and, as basic needs go unmet, education takes a backseat.

Brothers Marlon, 12, and Cristian, 11, live in Santa Barbara, with their grandparents, Antonia and Rafael, having been abandoned by their parents when they were young. Their small adobe home features a dirt floor and a wooden stove and is nearly defenseless against the weather, putting the family at risk for illnesses.

Antonia and Rafael are raising Marlon and Cristian, as the boys’ mother abandoned them when they were young.

Rafael relies heavily on corn and bean crops for provision, but lately the crops have been unreliable, decreasing the family’s income. Antonia raises chickens and sells the eggs they produce. Together, the family earns just enough to sustain themselves throughout the year.

Making matters worse, Marlon and Cristian’s community had been without a real school. Locals built a makeshift school building with old sheets and plastic. The structure was not sound enough to keep the students safe, especially since it had no roof, but Marlon and Cristian were eager to go because they wanted to learn. Their excitement was hampered, however, by the tattered shoes and clothing they had to wear to school. The boys’ grandparents could not afford anything more than the basic sustenance needed to survive.

“[My] clothes were broken and without buttons, and dirt and water would come inside my shoes,” Marlon said. “I felt sad and asked God why my brother and I have to live like this.”

Children of Brisas de Occidente, Santa Barbara, Honduras, stand in front of a new school building from Operation Blessing.

Operation Blessing Honduras was recently in Marlon and Cristian’s town to work with local women on microenterprise endeavors. Volunteers learned of the state of education in Santa Barbara, and sought to change it.

To alleviate this burden in the Santa Barbara community of Brisas de Occidente, OB Honduras built a school building containing a proper library, medical kit, kitchen, new bathrooms, and new desks. OBI further equipped students and teachers with new backpacks, shoes, uniforms, and school supplies for each student.

New desks adorn one of the classrooms of Marlon and Cristian’s school.

“Before, we felt very sad to go to school. … Today we have a beautiful school to study in and everything is very beautiful,” said Marlon.

When base-level physical needs are met, learning is a whole lot easier. Marlon, Cristian, and their peers can now learn in a proper school building, an experience that will remain with them for years to come.

A new medical kit sits readily available on a wall at the school in Honduras.

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