Month: July 2014

It’s About Family

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.

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“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!

22Karla 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.”

– Natasha

Greatness in the Making

Alice Keyes was a high school teacher and school counselor during the 2013-2014 academic, and served as Karla’s mentor-tutor. During her time in Gracias, Alice formed a wonderful, impactful relationship with the entire family and continues to be a resource, support and friend of OFH. She shares her story below:

Alice and Karla

“The sound of raucous laughter comes along with my first memories of the Ramirez children. Sergio, Ada, and Karla had discovered the hammock out in the garage and Estefany had picked up my umbrella. She had figured out how to open it and quickly made it become a bright yellow whirl as she twirled round ‘n round with it, giggling uproariously.  It was in that moment, looking at the joy filled scene, I realized I wanted to get to know them more.

As a Tutor-Mentor with OFH this past year I was given the opportunity to do just that. I held a front row seat on the ride up to the highs, down to the lows, and the journey in between.

Karla managed to persevere in school following an appendicitis which caused her to miss a significant number of days. She got involved in extracurricular activities, such as Girl Scouts, and found a caring group of friends. She successfully completed her second year at Minerva Bilingual School.

Sergio successfully integrated into his classroom and now has a couple of boys he calls ‘good friends’. His own person diligence, and help from many others is paying off, and he is excelling in his classes. He also experienced a notable attitude adjustment throughout the year and now pays more attention to how his actions affect others (a great thing for any 4th grade boy to learn).

Ada, timid and shy at the beginning of the year, now forms complete sentences in English and loudly sings songs like Hakuna matata (taught to her by her mentor-tutor, Arielle). She even uses English with her siblings as a ‘secret language’ around their parents.

Estephany can now say her colors and numbers in English and is coming into her own as a little person. She is a being fairly brimming with personality and I cannot wait to hear about, and hopefully make it back to see, the person she becomes.

Each of those life benchmarks is the result of each child persevering despite a multitude of barriers. And, like all children, there is great potential for what they can become and will do in their lives based off of the foundation being formed now.

‘Our goal isn’t that these kids make straight A’s, it’d be great if they did, but instead it’s more important that they become responsible, loving adults,’ say, OFH co-founders Sarah and Jami. ‘By being there for them, giving them opportunities, and loving them no matter what, we can help make that happen.’

These four children, Karla, Sergio, Ada, and Estephany represent greatness in the making. Perhaps they’ll go on to hold powerful positions, perhaps not. But either way they are in the process of becoming great human beings and it was a pleasure to watch their growth this year.

P.S. You too can be a part of helping with the process by donating to One Family Honduras. Click here for more info.”

— Alice

Welcome to the One Family Honduras blog!

Yes, bienvenidos! This blog is a space to connect. We have an impressive team of OFH staff in Honduras who walk with our students every day, and we also have an amazing network of supporters, advisors and friends across the United States. This blog is a space for all of us to share stories and grow deeper in our connections to one another.

Many of you know the story behind this organization: Jami King and I moved to the small town of Gracias, Honduras in 2011 to work at the Minerva Bilingual School. We formed a relationship with the Ramirez family, a family of six living on approximately $5 per day. After much thought, prayer and generosity, we began to sponsor one student—Karla—to attend school. (For more of the story and to meet our family, click here).DSC_0027

But I hope you sense that this is about far more than education. We desperately want these children to succeed in school and in life, but that is not our greatest hope. Our greatest hope is that these children feel loved—that the relationships that they form assure them of their inherent value and worth. We pray that these children are not impacted by merely their educations, but far more importantly by the relationships they form with teachers, mentors, classmates and supporters. Our goal is depth, not breadth.

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Our friendship with the kids inspired this organization, and our friends and families (you!) sustain our operations. In fact, 100% of our donations come from families and friends of people who have met the children directly, and have their own stories and relationships with them.

We hope that this blog allows us to connect with each other on a deeper level—the students, staff in Honduras, and friends in the United States. We invite you to join our family!

— Sarah Galaro

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