Coronavirus and El HogarApril 22, 2020
Dear El Hogar Family,
We truly hope that you and your loved ones are safe and healthy during this very difficult time.
We want to update the entire El Hogar community about what is happening in Honduras and how our staff and students are coping during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Like most of the rest of the world, our campuses in Honduras are in lockdown and isolation mode.
In compliance with government restrictions designed to safeguard students and staff, all school operations in Honduras closed on March 14, 2020, for at least fourteen days. The El Hogar campus in Tegucigalpa is housing all the students in our legal custody, as well as those who have been unable to return to their homes. The campus will continue to operate with careful supervision, support, and sanitary protocols in place. The Instituto Tecnico de Santa Maria (ITSM) in Amarateca is closed, with Director Lazaro Juarez staying in close contact. The farm in Talanga is operating normally to sustain its farming operations under Director Jony Aguilera.
The Honduran government has been swiftly escalating its limitations, and the country is now in what is locally called Toque de Queda –a severe restriction of business operations and circulation throughout the main cities. The government has also closed the country’s borders, except for the transport of goods. All of these precautions will hopefully ensure that the Honduran medical system can cope effectively with the pandemic.
At El Hogar, we have developed an emergency plan. A team of staff members is in full-time residence on the campus with daily visits from a very limited but key number of staff members, including Director Claudia Castro who consistently demonstrates her decisive leadership and dedication. El Hogar’s teachers have prepared materials for our day students to work on, and some teachers are preparing multimedia videos for additional support. So far, there are no coronavirus cases on campus, but we are prepared to quarantine any children or staff with symptoms.
Times of challenge and uncertainty like the one in which we find ourselves require us to come together to serve the most vulnerable among us. This has been El Hogar’s mission for the past 41 years and will continue to be its mission during this crisis and in its aftermath. What is clear now is that we must have the resources we need to continue to serve the needs of our students and staff.
Like most other businesses and nonprofit organizations during this time of economic stagnation, we are closely examining our operations in order to find ways to steward precious resources while not compromising our ability to carry out our core mission. We are a powerful organization doing critical work, but our resources are finite. We will need to depend, as we always have, on annual contributions and sponsorships from all of you. Like so many other businesses across the country, our staff in the Massachusetts office is primarily working remotely. However, we are open for all business and able to accept and respond to all calls, email, and regular mail.
We remain grateful to everyone in our community for partnering with us to help ensure that the children of El Hogar can find their place in the world. We wish you all safety, health and peace now and in the days ahead.
Executive Director, El Hogar Projects
Executive Director, El Hogar Ministries
MARCH 16 UPDATE: Government response in Honduras to coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve. In an effort to contain the spread of the pandemic within the country, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández has issued new information and measures. These include:
- Three new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the country, which brings the total number to six.
- As of midnight on Monday, March 16, the borders of Honduras will close for seven days to all human travel. The only exception will be for the transport of goods.
- As of midnight on Monday, March 16, all businesses in Honduras will be closed for seven days. The only exceptions are supermarkets, banks, gas stations, and pharmacies.
- All gatherings – public or private – over 50 people continue to be prohibited.
At El Hogar, our primary concern continues to be for the health and safety of the approximately 50 residential students who remain on campus. Strict health prevention and management protocols have been implemented to offer additional protection.
We understand the fear and uncertainty being caused by the current pandemic, but please be assured that we will continue to offer new information as it becomes available. If you have any questions, please contact Tim Monroe via email at [email protected]. Thank you for your continued support.
MARCH 13 UPDATE: In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the government of Honduras has announced nationwide school closings for 14 days. As a result, all our school operations will close as of March 13. Only the residential children will remain on campus with the necessary supervision. Strict entry and sanitation protocols are being implemented. The farm in Talanga will operate normally with strict sanitation protocols and daily communication with leaders.
Unfortunately, this also means that all Immersion Program visits and medical and dental missions to our campuses are suspended until further notice. We realize that this may represent disappointment and difficult inconveniences for those who were planning to visit over the next few weeks. We hope that all of our friends and supporters will understand that this decision was not made lightly and was made in order to protect the health of our students.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Tim Monroe at [email protected].
MARCH 11 UPDATE: The coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global health issue that is causing great concern. We understand that this current health situation may be causing people to reconsider international travel or to be even more concerned about the children in our care. As of March 11, there have been two cases cases of COVID-19 in Honduras. However, out of an abundance of caution we have taken the following steps:
- We have purchased large inventories of both protective masks and antiseptic gel for the use of students, faculty, and staff.
- If children are ill or showing flu-like symptoms, we are communicating with parents the critical importance of keeping them at home.
- We are also working as a team to develop a policy to manage any residential students who present symptoms.
In addition, here is a link to the Centers for Disease Control fact-sheet about COVID-19 that helps to distinguish key facts from rumor or disinformation about the virus.
Please do not hesitate to contact us via email at [email protected] or by calling 781-729-7600 if you have any additional questions or concerns that we can help address.