Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras

by Un Mundo
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras
Educate 50 Kids with Disabilities in Honduras

 The Un Mundo Special Education and Health Program emerged in response to concerns of parents of disabled children who suffered from the lack of access to special education and health services.   During three years, with the support of Un Mundo, children were transported daily to a special school at the nearest town;  but the program could only support at most nine children, and it created problems for those few.  In addition to the long and difficult road they had to travel daily, children were separated from their families and friends.

 Finally, the parents of the disabled children, who make up the Parents Association that runs the project, accompanied by Un Mundo, decided to approach the local educational authorities to request the inclusion of their children into the regular school systems in their communities.  Several teachers and heads of schools argued they did not have the proper infrastructure nor the needed training to take care of children with disabilities.  However, the Parents Association, in conjunction with Un Mundo, had already anticipated this possible scenario and had previously prepared a network of young volunteers to take care of children and youngsters with physical-motor and learning disabilities in the classroom.  Thus teachers would have appropriate help in every classroom where a child with a disability was present.  This was one of the first achievements in our communities, thanks to the efforts of the Parents Association, the network of young volunteers, Un Mundo, and the unconditional support of our donors.

It has been a few years since we began the process of integrating children with disabilities into regular schools and we talked to one of the teachers who at the time was not very convinced with the positive results of our School Inclusion for the Disabled project.

We talked with Isabel Juárez, a teacher of generations who has contributed to the teaching of children capable of developing numerous skills in education and culture.  She has worked in the communities of El Pital and Toncontin in the Cangrejal Valley region.  During a meeting in 2013 with Un Mundo staff and members of the disabled children’s Parents Association, Isabel stated that she “had had many doubts about the program since we had never worked in special education and had not received training in that area. Now, everything has changed as result of training and motivation; as well as the support offered to children who have certain types of physical and/or mental problems.  All this has helped me as a teacher, educator, and person.  Now, I am more socially aware of people with disabilities.  

According to my perception, the program has caused a significant impact in each participating school.  This is especially true when we look at the excellent coordination that exists between the volunteers and the teachers.  The positive result has been the way children have been helped to overcome their limitations.  Today, I am not a teacher any longer.  I am a school principal. In this position, I can support teachers by raising awareness about the inclusion of children and youth with disabilities in our community’s regular schools.  All this has been made possible thanks to the support of our donors.”  

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Juan Hernandez describes how tough day-to-day life had become for him and how he was unable to find a way to help with the various health problems his children faced.

As a parent, I felt so useless because I wasn’t able to help my children, to a point where I felt like I had no type or form of joy in my life until a bright ray of hope for our family peered through the cracks of what seemed like an endless tunnel.

My oldest son, Linton, was just 12 years old when he began to deteriorate rapidly. It was like he was losing control of his body. Something was very wrong with his legs. We visited multiple doctors in the area and the town nearby, which had very little resources. No one there was able to diagnose Linton.  It turns out his condition is very uncommon and none of the doctors we saw had ever seen it. The stress in our family reached a new high when we found out that our daughter, too, suffered from the same condition. Even then, there still wasn’t a diagnosis, there were just hunches and suspicions. The doctors recommended that they be seen by specialists that we could not afford. We could not afford the trip to see these specialists! We could not afford the costs of consulting with these specialists, either, let alone paying for lab work, imaging, and medications. We genuinely believed we were finished and all we had to do was accept our fate and prepare ourselves to see our children depart this world far before their time.

On a rainy day, one of many we experience here in the Cangrejal Valley, a representative of the Un Mundo organization came to invite me to become part of a special program of education and wellbeing, since they had heard about our struggles and our kids’ deteriorating health. They explained to me the kind of work that they did and how the life of my children could improve significantly. It was that rainy day when I decided to join this wonderful and bighearted program.  

Shortly after enrolling in the program, my son Linton and his sister were given a thorough medical evaluation with a pediatric neurologist.   He told us they suffered from a congenital hereditary degenerative disease known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. That strange and long name, impossible to pronounce in my native language, told me nothing. All I knew was that it was slowly sucking the life out of my young children and, we wanted to find a way to prevent it from doing so, and we wanted it fast. We wanted to see them healthy, happy and full of hope just like other children are at that age.

The specialists did tell me that the disease was not reversible, but thanks to the support of those specialists, of the volunteers in the special education and health program in the community, and of every one who has supported and continues to support Un Mundo, my son Linton and his sister Denia have become stable; they have not gotten any worse. I am grateful for everyone and God for the fact that today my son is able to help me with ours crops, and most importantly, he feels like he is useful and contributes to our family’s wellbeing. My daughter Denia, whose health deteriorated far worse and much faster than Linton, has been stable and enjoys spending time together as a family.

Since we have very few resources, we have no way of repaying Un Mundo. We know that they don’t charge for what they do and that they do it out of genuine interest in helping out the community, but we know that there are parents out there who have suffered and or continue to suffer the way we did. My wife is now a part of the board of directors of the Association of Parents of Disabled Children, formed to better support one another in different ways to help our children, whom the world has greeted with more challenges. We are all a community, we are all Un Mundo (One World).

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Maynor studying at home
Maynor studying at home

When he was born, Maynor was supposed never to be able to walk or talk. By the time he was six years old, however, contrary to the predictions about his cerebral palsy, Maynor began to walk and soon thereafter to form words. Nevertheless, due to his disabilities, he wasn’t able to attend his local elementary school, nor were his parents able to afford the luxury of sending him to La Ceiba for special education. As such, Maynor spent the majority of his days playing alone in his room, only rarely walking out to his yard.

In February, 2009, Maynor was able to enroll in the special education school Emilia D' Cuire in La Ceiba as one of the first students in Un Mundo’s pilot special education program. By 2010, Maynor had made great progress in his writing, speaking, and social skills. He made lasting friendships and overcame his immense fear of water to learn to swim. In 2011, Maynor began to learn to read and advanced to the highest reading level in his school.

In 2012, Maynor graduated from Emilia D' Cuire, having advanced significantly in his grades, obtaining a certificate to be able to enroll in second grade in a traditional school. Despite having significant challenges speaking, Maynor said farewell to his companions by giving a speech in front of the whole school, thanking everyone for their support during his years of study.

Today, Maynor walks on his own to school every day. He is excelling in fifth grade, sometimes receiving higher grades than his classmates without disabilities. He has improved his reading and writing so much that he’s now able to help his illiterate mother to learn, as well.

This story of transformation says much about the potential of what can occur when an excellent program meets critical needs. Today, Maynor inspires many parents to fight for their children and to refuse to give up in the face of adversity. He’s an example within his community of persistence and the ability to overcome challenges. His classmates respect and admire him; indeed, he has become a leader and a star.

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Kendy, an exemplary community volunteer
Kendy, an exemplary community volunteer

Kendy, a young woman from the Cangrejal Valley of Honduras, is an exemplary mother, wife, and neighbor, and she has found joy in these roles throughout her life. Nevertheless, as a vibrant, imaginative person, she spent a number of years feeling that she had more to offer.

In 2015, then, when she began to serve as a community volunteer for Un Mundo’s Special Education and Health project, she was overjoyed to find new ways to use her talents. She suddenly could help not only her own children but also scores of other children to learn and grow. She could coach the families of children with special needs, guiding them to find resourceful ways of enabling productive lives for their children. She could brainstorm with public school teachers to identify more effective strategies for meeting the needs of diverse learners.

“I love being a mother and a housewife,” Kendy says, “but through this project I feel that I am truly being useful to others.” Her aptitude for helping her neighbors is apparent in the way that children in her community of Yaruca flock to her when she’s in their classroom at school, as well as the camaraderie she has with all of the parents and teachers she supports. Kendy seems to continually find ways of being an ever more valuable member of her community, and — with university studies in pedagogy underway — it’s clear that she will find still more ways to contribute in the years ahead.

Kendy is one of eight community volunteers for this project — the others live and work in the communities of El Urraco, Toncontin, El Paraíso, Nueva Suyapa, El Pital, Las Mangas, and El Naranjo. Together, they serve about 50 children with a range of special needs as well as these children’s families and teachers. Without Kendy and her colleagues, who are models of service, kind-heartedness, and tolerance in each of their villages, the Special Education and Health project would be nothing more than a dream.

We are so proud to watch volunteers like Kendy blossom professionally, giving so much to children with special needs and their communities at large. We know that we couldn’t support these amazing people without your help, so we wanted to take a moment to thank you again for enabling the Special Education and Health project to thrive! As always, any donations toward this project will be deeply appreciated by the local folks who strive every day to make their communities more inclusive.

Kendy (in purple) training parents with other vols
Kendy (in purple) training parents with other vols
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Duany, a new volunteer in El Pital
Duany, a new volunteer in El Pital

As a supporter of Un Mundo, you know that our projects are founded on participatory processes, which have positive effects ranging from capacity building to giving voice to society’s most marginalized members. Another transformative effect is that participation within a community breeds empathy, the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes and appreciate his or her experiences and feelings. In Honduras, where violence is all too common and too many vulnerable people are dehumanized and oppressed, empathy could not be a more critical need.

As the Cangrejal Special Education and Health Project (CSEHP) grows stronger and continues to expand into new communities in the river valley, we feel proud that our volunteers are setting an example of cultivating empathetic relationships with people who have special needs. Take Duany, who joined the team this year as the CSEHP volunteer in El Pital. Each week, he provides academic, health, and emotional support to six children and also works to transfer specialized skills and knowledge to Pital’s public school teachers and members of the children’s families. Duany says that, while he’s never worked with children before, he feels that he’s quickly gained confidence through his experience and is excited about how much he’s learned. Not only that, “Before, I didn’t know about the problems that these children have, but I’m deepening my understanding and gaining the children’s confidence to be able to help them more effectively.”

“I feel great being at the children’s side and helping them, and I’m gaining greater understanding of what their lives are like,” he says. “I’ve also enjoyed doing this because sometimes the children talk about the problems they have, and I’m there to help them. They feel free and comfortable to say what they think. I really am becoming passionate about this work.” While we think that Duany should be proud of the impressive professional skills he’s gained in just a few short months, we can’t help but smile to observe that he seems more moved by his newfound empathy for children with special needs than anything else. Already a positive role model in the community, we know that Duany will only become an increasingly powerful example of how to do the right thing.

At Un Mundo, we believe that it’s local people like Duany who make the difference in creating more nurturing, inclusive environments for people with special needs in a sustainable, mutually beneficial way. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support of this work, and please consider making a contribution toward the project again!

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Un Mundo

Location: Menlo Park, CA - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Elly Goetz
Mountain View, CA United States
$12,170 raised of $15,000 goal
181 donations
$2,830 to go
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