the .RAW story : the children's home project - Honduras
The TCH Project has changed us. Theres no other non-cliché way to say it.
Our days in Honduras were spent with the kids. Below are a few stories and memories we’d like to share with you.
Let’s start by talking about the universal language of futbol. Breaking the ice with kids that speak another language was a little intimidating, not going to lie. And boy do John and I wish we would have paid more attention in Spanish class…but that’s nothing a game of futbol can’t solve. Watching these kids dribble up and down the field, barefoot or in crocs, it was second nature to them. You could tell they have been playing since the second they could walk. A futbol was taken everywhere. Every time you looked around, whether it’s at the kids homes or the water park.. a futbol was being kicked around by someone.
And the invitation to play was always open to a gringo and almost always initiated by a kid. You didn’t need to speak the same language to play this game. It broke the ice.
The kids were good. Real good. And they enjoyed being good too. They laughed when a gringo stumbled over the ball and loved to play keep away.. but overall I would say I think they just enjoyed to play the game no matter who it was against.
As we played at this complex there were semi pro futbol teams practicing on the other fields. Occasionally I would go check them out along with some of the smaller boys. You could see the longing, the dream, the awe in watching these professional teams play and in the back of my head I knew that these boys have never even been on a real futbol field, in a real game. Every kid deserves to play sports, on a team and a part of brotherhood and these kids don’t get that. But with your help maybe they could. If we raised enough money, they could possibly send some of the older boys to soccer practice or be able to afford to let them join a team. And with some of these kids skill, becoming a professional isn’t too far out of the question.. they just need a little help. Considering donating to The Children’s Home Project. $10 can go a long way. http://www.tchproject.org
Today I want to share Oscar. Now I know we’re not supposed to have favorites… but come on.. look at that sweet face. And his hugs are just as warm.
Oscar and his brother Juan Manuel are the newest boys to the Pronino location of TCHP, whom arrived just one week before we visited. Haley, who works at pronino, said the first few days were hard. They cried. Cried to leave. Cried because it was a change. Cried because they didn’t know this life would be better.
Kids that are part of The Children’s Home Project most likely grow up on the streets, often found begging at stoplights and then eventually picked up by the government. The government then places them at children’s homes. Many children’s homes are already full, not enough beds, leaving so many kids still stuck on the street. Oscar and his brother arrived to Pronino just in time.
Oscar wasn’t the first kiddo to warm up to me being as I don’t think he understood exactly who we were and what was happening, but as he saw some of the other kids playing with us he instantly got curious and wanted to join. The first day we played a little soccer. I watched him run around with the other boys like he’d know these brothers his whole life and fit in perfectly. There was so much joy behind his eyes every time you saw him and he’d never forget to come warm you up with a hug.. even after he was soaking wet from playing in a puddle. He is a champ at the monkey bars, always had a ball at his feet to kick around and was the best trash clean up partner I could ask for. The light behind Oscars eyes were truly inspiring.
This here is my friend Santos. 19 years old. He is the first of 3 young men who have grown up in @tchproject & just started their first day of University. He is studying industrial engineering. He also allowed me to take his photo after getting to know him even though he pretends not to like photos. He could be a model right?!
More importantly, this photo holds special meaning for me. On the first day of visiting TCHP’s second location Proniño, located in Progresso, I was quite nervous about meeting these kids. I remembered very little spanish so I was hesitant and worried to engage with them all, plus it was pouring rain so hiding behind my ability to play games like soccer was thrown out the window & I was left with questions in my head like, “what do I say?” “how do I interact?”
Then, I saw Santos hanging by a door. I walked up to him & greeted him with my broken spanish. He asked if I knew spanish. Embarrassed, I said no. He laughed & told me he likes to speak english, so for awhile he brushed up on his english with conversation and he helped me remember some of the spanish I neglected to apply & remember back in high school. Even though he laughed over my stuttering & mispronunciations of words, he helped me break the ice with conversational engagement.
The fact of the matter is, I had allowed my confidence to flatten because of my lack of spanish. Then, this young man lifted it up with his allowance and willingness to simply engage with a random gringo. He didn’t have to, he could’ve been short with me. But he wasn’t, he was interested. He wanted to learn more. He wanted to engage. He wanted to get better. He is kind. He is cool. And he will do great things. Thanks Santos.
This kid right here has come a long way. as all they all have. i won’t get into his past, but you must know, life is hard in Honduras. especially for those in poverty as this cycle will eat them up with no way to rise past it. I cant even do it justice to explain & its something that really needs to been seen for itself to be fully understood.
Needless to say, Francisco has risen. Since his first year entering TCHP @ Proniño, he has become a role model. He is hilarious. He is sharp. He is suave. & we were in constant competition over my girlfriend. He knows how to love his younger brothers & care for his sisters. Much of this is because of the love given by those at TCHP & those who support TCHP. I told him he should be an actor, but he told me no, he wants to be a civil engineer.. Woah, that’s coming from a 13 y.o.!
I have two incredibly memorable moments with this kid. the first one is where we spent 45 minutes in the back of the SUV driving back to Proniño playing rock, paper, scissors & him teaching me a Spanish tongue twister. I don’t think I have laughed so hard for 45 straight minutes. Nothing in the world mattered more than him making sure I mastered it. Once I started to get it down he would exclaim “RAPPIDO!!!”. Very few things in my life had made time fly that quick.
The second memory is when we were all getting ready to leave. After many hugs & the resistance to fully say goodbye to these kids who just opened our souls for six days, Francisco whispered something to me that I didn’t understand. I handed him my phone for it to be translated. When I looked at it, I nearly balled my eyes out. It read “protect her”. In fact, it makes tear up as I write this down. It was one of the most honorable, respectful, loving & purely genuine experiences I have ever had.
I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life. This kid is a hero, along with all of them at the TCHP. But it wouldn’t be possible without those who run it & support it. So I thank you all. You have opened my soul.
Today I want to talk about Crecer. Within @tchproject there are 3 locations. Crecer, the day center in the capitol city of Honduras; Pronino, the full time boys home 45 mins away from the capitol; and the full the time girls home in the same city as Pronino.
While as most of the kids in the Pronino location are separated or without families, the Crecer kids are not. Crecer is a day center and a safe place for kids to hangout and spend their time at during the day in place of being on the street. Here they are fed, spend the first part of the day in a home school environment and then an afternoon of free time with an occasional outing to futbol fields, water parks, etc.
Crecer is a crucial part of TCH project. Kids in Honduras that are separated from their families have no place to go so they turn to begging on the streets or wind up affiliated with gangs. But even with a family, this can still happen. While parents are away working from sun up to sun down to just make means end, there is no accountability for these kids to stay in school and stay off the streets. This is where Crecer comes in. Jilli, the caretaker of Crecer spent months on the streets building trust and a relationship with the kiddos and eventually was able to get a large group of kids back in school and off the streets.
While visiting the crecer kiddos we went on a hike up to the coco cola sign(similar to our Hollywood sign) visited their home, were able to give them some Polaroid cameras and hammocks thanks to @carolineroro@wynwiley & @abbeylmoore , and then eventually went to a futbol complex and watched them kick the gringo boys butts!! TCH Project needs your help. Please consider donating. $10 goes such a long long way down there. Education is power. A safe place is necessary. And a hot meal shouldn’t be a luxury.
As much as I was inspired by the strength, courage, & love these kids all displayed & acted w/ at @tchproject none of it would be possible without their incredible group of staff members.
The kids are truly loved & respected by each of their elders. Sure there are times of frustration, but not once did I see someone act out hate or anger. These kids listen intently, speak with true expression, & follow with dignity.
I just want to highlight Haley, Jilli & all the staff that supports these kids by being caregivers & loving trusted adults needed in Honduras.
Haley, a fellow Lincolnite herself, has spent the last 2 years dedicated to the kids at Proniño; making sure they have all of their essential needs met at an fulltime location where the kids live at.
Jilli, from Wash DC, is the strong female figure to the kids at Crecer. With the help of her boyfriend, Franklin (who’s like the cool adult that lets you do fun stuff), & his mom who prepares daily meals, they provide a safe & loving space during the day with educational opportunities & a sense of community based in love as an alternative to the lives which they are almost expected to live in their sometimes unsafe community.
Last but not least, I have to recognize the 19 other staff members who all are Honduran minus one. These people are all just as important as those mentioned above, teaching the kids morals & values & being the role models needed in order to cultivate the necessary growth to live out their dreams. Again, they are loved and respected because they themselves give that love & respect out 10 fold. All the people involved at TCHP are basically here to say “I know what’s expected of you in this life, but we’re here to to tell you that you have so much potential and abilities that we can help unlock”. It’s truly inspiring. Powerful. And something we all need a little more of.
Shout out to little homie Mauricio! In short time being in Honduras, this kid opened up a new vessel in my soul. Its difficult to explain how and why. It’s amazing how a small spark of connection can burst into a new way of existence. I’m not sure if it was my “cool” sunglasses or letting him wear my rain jacket and gloves.
But everyday we began to hang out a little bit more. We would learn from each other, I would show him some new trick or skill and he’d help me with my soccer and spanish. Midway through we had a cool little handshake we would do to say hello and goodbye. These are memories I will take to my grave and a connection I will continue to cherish and show up for. Thanks Mauricio.
I know you wont be able to develop a connection with these kids just through some photos, but go out and learn from a kid. Teach them something. Build a bond. Be a mentor and a mentee. Show up for them and watch the friendship bloom. It will go a long way, trust me…
I also hope you get the opportunity to go down to Honduras with me someday to feel the exchange of love in a really tough place, its unequivocal, irreplaceable and hits you deep in your core.