The Tegucigalpa Market Children Program was started in Tegucigalpa by Tulane University in 1990, then expanded 21 years ago with a 3H grant from The Rotary Foundation sponsored by four Rotary Clubs in Kelowna, and Tegucigalpa.
Our partner organization in Tegucigalpa is Alternativas Y Oportunidades (AYO) a Honduran NGO (Non Government Organization) controlled by Rotarians from four Rotary Clubs in Tegucigalpa. HELP Honduras has an agency agreement with AYO which outlines the responsibilities of both partners in all programs.
We work to help the poorest of the poor. In Tegucigalpa, they are the families working in the public markets and in the local dump. Children of the mostly single mothers who work in the markets were not attending school. As they became teenagers, some of the children drifted into gangs and petty theft or, at best, took over their mother’s stall in the market. The Rotarians of Tegucigalpa decided to break the circle of poverty by educating the children under the Tegucigalpa Market Children Program.
School is free in Honduras (including the public University) but you can’t attend without a uniform, shoes, books, and school supplies.
HELP Honduras collects funds from sponsors and supplies what is needed. The costs are:
- Primary School Student $180
- Secondary School Student – Santa Barbara $250
- Secondary School Student – Tegucigalpa
- Vocational Student $350
- University Student $350
Student progress is monitored and tutors provided when needed. The pass rates of our sponsored students are 98%.
The beneficiaries are the families of people who work in the public markets and the municipal dump in Tegucigalpa.
The philosophy is to look after the whole family. Thus every parent who has a child with a school sponsorship is obligated to take parenting courses and is invited to take part in other activities. This includes preventive health, vocational, and educational programs.
In 2016 the 6th Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation will fund the Economic Opportunities Training (EOT) of market mothers. They will learn basic business strategies and skills that will allow them to expand their existing business, or start a new one. Some graduates will receive additional training so that they are qualified for Micro Credit. Some of these “businesses” consist of selling from a wheel barrow full of vegetables. Another ten to twelve graduates of the basic EOT take a six-month sewing program. The grant also includes job search training program for grade 11 and 12 students. This includes resume preparation, interview skills, and development of a job search propgram for each student.
At the end of the 5th Grant program 815 mothers received EOT, the objective of which was to make them able to pay for their own child’s education. This has reduced the number of sponsorships (funded by individuals and grants) from over 2,000 in 2009, to fewer than 1,000 in 2016. The number of sponsorships required (paid by individuals) for the year 2015 will be about 1,000, a 25% increase over the existing number.
A Global Grant in 2014/15 funded Early Childhood Stimulation.. The objective is to provide Early Childhood Stimulation ( ECS ) activities and treatments for the most vulnerable children from 0-5 years old. We teach mothers the skills to enhance their children’s ability to succeed in their future education opportunities by providing alternative health and educational services. The emphasis is on preventative care, social integration and community solidarity through a better understanding of their rights paving the way for their social participation and influence in the project and their community. Beneficiaries are: 200 children 0-5 years old provided health care treatment, disease prevention, and assessment of language, motor skills, cognitive abilities, & social interaction, plus 200 mothers. Although the guardians are primarily mothers, fathers are invited to participate in the program if and when they are available. Future children of these families will benefit from the training their mothers and fathers receive in the areas of pre & post natal care, reproductive health, paternal responsibilities, disease prevention, and proper child growth development.
A new program of The Rotary Foundation Canada( TRFC ) directs funds from the Government of Canada to increase funds available with Global Grants. The Rotary Club of Campbell River has applied for funds for a second Global Grant for Early Childhood Stimulation. This fits nicely with one of the principle goals of the Government of Canada which is improvement of Maternal & Childhood Health in developing countries.
Children in this project are more likely to succeed in school and receive a better education, allowing them to escape the poverty and crime cycles they would otherwise face. Currently, many of the children of the parents working in the public markets and city dumps end up in gangs and criminal activity. We offer them an alternative. AYO have youth clubs that give them a sense of belonging to a larger community. They see that they can continue to university, too, if they study hard and apply themselves. The youth leaders teach the Rotary 4 Way Test to the younger children in the program and in the Public School System.
The market communities served by the project benefit from the solidarity created by the positive group activities and the potential for a better life for their children.
Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much. (Helen Keller)