Thursday, August 14, 2014

Manuelito Project growth

It's important to share how much the Manueltio Project has grown in just the 13 months since we were last there. Prayers, time, finances, gifts, love have been given and it's always good to know if people are giving in the right ways, if their prayers are being answered, if the money is being spent well. Do they kids even benefit from it?

Here are just a few things I saw in my last visit to the Manuelito Project:

- The children seem to be more content, more mature, more settled. This campus has been in place for about 8 or 9 years, some kids there the whole time, others new. All the kids have suffered, some in terrible ways, and they don't have the resources for professional counseling and therapy. But they are loved and taken care of, and that shows.

- The school has grown in two ways:
  •  In addition to the 40 kids living at the project (3 more than last year), they provide schooling for the poorest kids in town - kids who sleep on floors, who collect recycling from garbage so their family can eat, who would otherwise beg on the streets and never see the inside of a school.
    Last year they helped approx 40 of those children, this year they help 74. They come to school & are entered into the appropriate grade. Older children may be put into an accelerated program to cover 2 grades per year. Their education is good - their 8th graders were learning algebra just like ours.

    As an aside, I wanted to point out some of the extras that these teachers do. Not only will they stay after school for tutoring, but they will help the children with things they wouldn't get at home - such as the Kindergarten teacher staying back to wash the children's hair after school.
  • The new school started to be built this year. Phase 1 will have 5 classrooms. This will accommodate the extra children (currently some classes sit outdoors). The walls are half up already. It's a long process. While we were there 2 builders worked on it, with old building techniques (even whittling fixtures by machete), helped along by us slower non-handy Americans ;)
    This school project began with funds donated by First United Methodist Church, Butler in 2014.
    From November the kids have their 3 month break - I wonder if they will start the new 2015 school year in the new classrooms!
- Health & Hygiene. While we were there last year, Jason began a project of attaching metal screens to the kitchen windows. In the past year other teams continued that project on the cafeteria and the kids' dorms, almost eliminating the flies from the eating areas and the mosquitoes from the bedrooms.

- Food. The kids were always fed a good amount - not what the American teams ate but a staple including tortilla, rice, beans, maybe egg, some meat a few times a week. Breakfast, lunch and dinner where often a combination on those. This year we saw the children eat more variety, the same staples but with additions of fruit salads and fresh vegetables.
Nutrition is so important - some of the children came to the project as teens but look 5 years younger due to poor nutrition.

- Rewards program. A small store was installed (prepped by Jason & Craig in 2013). This sells things like pop, cookies, t-shirts and so on. The volunteer teams use cash to buy from it (and so fund it), and the kids can shop from it with points they earn for good behavior. It is staffed by one of the older girls on the project, Josselin, during lunch and dinner times. The kids love it and it's a great incentive for them to be doing extra chores and working on behavior issues.

- Staff & Volunteers. The Project had a little overhaul of staff, finding teachers, house parents for the dorms and volunteers that are passionate about the work done in the project, that truly care about the future of the kids and that are fully invested in bringing Christ-like love and compassion to their lives.

There are so many more ways that we saw changes in that short time, but these are the ones that stand out to me the most and I hope reassure you, as it did us, that the Project is moving forward in tremendous ways, providing a hope and future to many kids in Honduras.

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