The Social Work of Combatting Child Homelessness in Honduras
Nidia, Director of the Social Work Department, talks about how NPH Honduras is helping reduce child homelessness.
July 18, 2018 - Honduras
As with all of the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos homes, NPH Honduras strives to create a loving and safe family environment for vulnerable children living in extreme conditions.
Unfortunately, one of the most significant dangers facing children in Honduras is lack of secure housing. In a country of 8.5 million people, 138,000 Hondurans are without a home, and more than 1 million are “housing insecure.” This housing shortage has led to negative consequences for the many children who are in families that do not have a permanent place to live.
“In cities…we find families with problems of overcrowding. Many times, children have to sleep with adults, and this increases the likelihood that children are exposed to situations of abuse,” explains Nidia Rodas Lagos, a former NPH ‘pequeña’ and now Director of Social Work at NPH Honduras.
In cases of abuse, the Honduran government removes the child from the dangerous situation, and then works with NPH to place them under our protection. Beyond situations of direct abuse, there are children that need our support due to other issues related to housing security, too.
“We find that along with the emigration from rural to urban areas, families often times build houses, but they do not have the basic services of electricity, potable water, sewage service, and waste disposal,” continues Nidia.
Often, children do not have access to some of the most basic public services either.
“Often in overcrowding locations, there is no access to education. Children and adolescents have to travel to other neighborhoods to study. This can result in situations of harassment and coercion by organized gangs," Nidia points out.
Nidia believes NPH Honduras has had a tremendous, positive impact on the children coming from situations of housing insecurity. She highlights specifically the recent changes to the home structure within NPH – smaller numbers of children together in their own rooms, with siblings of the same gender living together - as being significant improvements.
And the children agree!
“Absolutely! I love the new division in the homes. It’s nice to have my own space,” explains William*, a 13-year-old living in one of the recently improved housing units.
In addition to the physical space of the buildings, NPH Honduras goes beyond to make sure the children feel they are part of a family where they are living.
Says one caregiver: “We have activities, reading time, and chores. All of the children are loved equally here, just as they would be within their own homes.”
*Name changed for privacy purposes.