A Safe Environment at NPH
Supporting efforts to protect vulnerable children who were removed them from their former residence.
October 15, 2018 - Honduras
In March of 2018, NPH Honduras' National Director, Stefan Feuerstein, published a letter describing the unfortunate circumstances under which eight special needs children from Catacamas arrived to our homes in Olancho and Tegucigalpa. From the moment that the children arrived, doctors, nurses, therapists, psychologists, social workers, and caregivers worked together to perform diagnostic exams, provide therapy, conduct interviews, and accommodate living spaces. Despite the initial stress and confusion of the situation, everything worked out well thanks to a team consisting of “people who cared, knew what they were doing, and wanted the problem to be solved,” says Assistant National Director Steve O’Mahony.
But arriving at NPH was only the beginning of the ongoing work that would need to be done to help the children’s transition into our residential homes. In the following months, NPH's team would continue to work tirelessly to stabilize their health, integrate them into their new communities, and get more information about their medical and biographical histories.
During those initial months, it became increasingly important for the children to feel that they were loved and in a secure environment. Like any other child, these children needed to trust our staff and receive individualized attention before truly becoming a part of our family. Volunteer physical therapist Matthieu Haentjens says that part of what makes NPH unique is that the staff are skilled and successful in understanding children as individuals. He adds, "We don't just want to just know a child's name, gender, age, or disorder, but also what her favorite color is or who she considers to be her best friend."
Today, several months later, Frida,* Julissa,* Carmen,* Lisbeth,* Gracia,* Yessica,* Ricardo,* and Damián* seem to have overcome some of the difficulties they faced during their first few months at NPH. On a social level, some of the children have made significant progress; they have begun to express themselves more frequently through verbal and non-verbal communication, interact with other children in their classes and in their homes, and participate in fun activities, such as singing, dancing, making arts and crafts, and flipping through their favorite books.
In addition to recreational activities, those enrolled in school take special education courses suited to their learning capability and participate in workshop programs, such as a recycling, piñata-making, condiment-packaging, and an agriculture program. Ena Maritza Flores, head of the special education department, highlights the importance of teaching her students daily life skills, adding that “just like regular people, children and adults with special needs should learn about social environments, personal hygiene, self-esteem, and learn to talk about their hopes for the future.”
With regards to the near future, NPH has contracted six professionals trained in special education and speech-language therapy who will work directly with the children, delivering lessons tailored to their learning capacities and engaging them in activities geared towards developing their potentials. Lisbeth* and Carmen* will begin school in July, and, later this year, Carmen*, Yessica*, and Gracia* will receive customized wheelchairs through a project funded by a Swiss organization.
As difficult as leaving Catacamas was for these eight children, they can rest assured that NPH is a caring and safe environment that they can call home.
*Names changed for privacy purposes.