Natasha Truong worked with OFH for two years, serving as In-Country Education Director, friend and mentor to our OFH family. The 2013-2014 academic year was Natasha’s last year in Honduras. As she now transitions to life in the U.S. and has time to reflect on her years spent with OFH and our students, we asked her to share some of her thoughts about working with– and learning to love– this family. We are touched and encouraged by her words, and we hope you will be, too.
“OFH is more than just an organization providing education for economic development. Like its name states, it’s about family. No matter how much your family members stumble, you love them through it, and that is exactly how the organization has regarded our OFH family. The level of responsibility that we require of our family (parents included) is unlike anything they’ve experience before. And sometimes, it’s been too much. Some days they’ve showed up late to class, lost their school supplies, or forgotten to wash their uniforms. Instead of giving up on the family during those times, OFH’s stance has been to embrace their humanity and recognize their dignity as people. Within this framework, I was given the opportunity to witness the family move beyond their slip-ups and grow. Because of the love that they have been shown, each one of the kids has learned to love and value themselves, growing into confident people.
Estefany has become a sassy preschooler, and Ada has come a long way in getting over her shyness with new people (she even interacted with a fruit vendor once as a customer). When asked which students were ‘Most Improved’ during a morning devotional, Sergio raised his hand and said himself. I was amused and proud to hear that he said this without a trace of arrogance! At the beginning of last school year, he struggled to turn in his work and was constantly being called out by his teachers for rambunctious behavior. By the end of the year, he was getting better grades and was no longer being sent to the office. His teachers, mentor-tutor, and I have all noticed how observant he’s become. One day we were shopping in town when I received a cat-call from some men on the street (unfortunately, a common occurrence in this culture). Sergio shook his head and said, “The men here treat foreign women with less respect than they do Honduran women.” I was blown away by his observation and interpretation of the situation!
Karla had a tough year last year, as she missed many classes due to on-and-off illness. But even then she persevered. She received the award for ‘Most Inspirational’ from the Girl Scouts, an organization she joined at the beginning of the year. Although she wasn’t too enthusiastic when she first joined the group, soon she was not only attending every event, but she also went beyond her duties. She made the highest sales during the bake sale, and she opened up tremendously at the group sleepover. Her English teacher told me how polite she has become and how she was the best public speaker in her class. Pretty impressive for a girl who spoke little English when I first met her two years ago!
These four kids will always be in my heart, and working with them has taught me what it means to love.”