Meeting the Needs of our Neighbors
How an NPH community outreach program helps educate and feed the neighboring community.
November 14, 2016 - Honduras
Roughly fifteen minutes outside of NPH Honduras' Rancho Santa Fe, 13-year-old Mary* is walking to the comedor, (Spanish for dining area or soup kitchen) in the small neighboring town of Talanga where she passes her after-school hours eating, studying, and spending time with kids her age. NPH Honduras provides 80% of the food and financial aid to the comedor, which helps 25 children directly and around 80 members of the Talanga community indirectly.
The comedor was founded in 2009, with renovations done last year in 2015, and is located in a part of town that sees 90% of the families in "extreme high-risk social situations." NPH's weekly donation of food and money seeks to help the comedor relieve stress that childcare may place upon members of the community, many of whom are single and/or unemployed mothers. Thanks to the help of the comedor and NPH, children like Mary can get full meals while their parents are able to work.
"The food that they give us here is really tasty!" says Mary. "I like it a lot and it fills me up - sometimes I even get to have seconds!" Food is not the only aid that the comedor provides to its visitors. Members also get the opportunity to participate in the NPH-run "chicas poderosas," or "powerful girls" program, which is a youth-group that helps with self-esteem, self-image, and confidence. Children also are able to benefit from the full services of the NPH external clinic and dentist, and receive academic support as well.
"I do well in school," Mary explains. "I get good grades on all my tests and assignments.The comedor helps me with my homework, there are teachers that help with tutoring, and extra practice." Thanks to this help, Mary hopes she will have a chance to achieve her academic dream, "I want to study more and be a doctor when I graduate!"
The comedor provides strong help and relief for the family of the children as well. "I send my kids (Mary and her younger brother) to the comedor because I do not make a lot of money and cannot always provide food," says Mary's mother. "They treat my kids very well; we have been coming for seven months now ... They help my daughter with homework, eating well ... and through the NPH scholarship program, give her shoes, school supplies, and school uniforms."
The aid of food is much needed in Honduras, which as of UNICEF's last findings in 2012, sees around 22% of its children facing "moderate and severe" stunted growth. While all nine of NPH's homes do not have the capacity to fund local outreach programs, NPH Honduras does. They recognize the importance of helping the full community, not just the one within its walls.
Mary is a direct reflection of that. While within the ranch, NPH works to provide a strong, healthy, family-like living situation for all of its pequeños, its outreach programs do the same. "I like to be with my family," says Mary. "And because the comedor helps with my studies, I finish my homework quicker and get to spend more time with my family after school."
*Name changed to protect privacy