NOTES FROM HONDURASSeptember 13, 2022
by Erika Skafel
When El Hogar was founded over 43 years ago, the property that is now our elementary campus of Hogar de Amor y Esperanza had one building; the original house that is now the main office and administration. As the program started to grow, so too did the need for more space. Little by little the campus became complete with all the amenities to provide our students with a safe home and a quality education. After many years, the wooden buildings where the children lived were replaced with a large block building that could provide a home for up to 100 students.
Over the years, as we have intensified the rigorous and sensitive work to support our children and their families, we have been able to reintegrate many of our children back into their homes. For the children who remain in our care, our dedicated staff continue to work to re- establish and strengthen their relationships with their biological families, whenever possible. We know that we can never replace a child’s family, but we continue to strive to be the best alternative. We have been consulting with experts in child wellness and protection while working to transition our residential program into a more home-like family-based environment as we know that a family setting best supports a child’s development of a healthy sense of identity, purpose and belonging.
With a smaller residential population, we have been able to improve our caregiver to child ratio so that our children can receive more individualized attention. The children are also more active in decision making around their daily activities and involved in meal planning and preparation. They participate in activities of daily life in smaller family groups – either with biological siblings or small groups of peers with mixed ages.
As we’ve made these change to the residential program, we are working to adapt the children’s living spaces to reflect a more home-like environment as well. The strategic team at El Hogar in Honduras approached two local architectural firms with our vision for new living quarters for our children and after a rigorous bidding process, hired one of them to turn El Hogar’s vision into reality. In mid-June, the children and caregivers accommodated the space in what was the volunteer house where they would stay temporarily and moved all of the furniture out of the dormitory building so renovations could begin.
With the renovations projected to finish in early October, much progress has been made. All of the building’s plumbing and electrical wiring has been updated, the building entrances and windows have been relocated, the flooring has been laid and the drywall has gone up. The apartments are beginning to take shape. The main structure of the dormitory building will remain, but each wing will be renovated into individual apartment units with five bedrooms, a kitchen and a shared living space. Students will be able to go home after class, do their homework in their rooms, have recreational time with their siblings or family group in their living room, help prepare meals with their caregivers in their kitchen and access outside social areas. Once the renovations are complete, our children will be living in a typical apartment complex.
Thanks to many of our community members in North America for partnering with us, we can continue to do the critical job of strengthening our children’s residential experience so they can have a deeper sense of home and belonging.
Thank you for your continued support of El Hogar!