Sylvan United Church does on-going fundraising to support a young girl through El Hogar Projects, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The stated mission of El Hogar Projects is, “to provide a loving home and education in a Christian environment for abandoned, orphaned and hopelessly poor children enabling them to fulfill their ultimate potential as productive human beings in Honduras.”
Honduras is the poorest country in the Americas, with an illiteracy rate of 25 %, and an unemployment rate at about 30%. More than half the population lives below the poverty line. Cardboard and tin homes leave little space for privacy and offer no running water. When families of origin can no longer feed, clothe, or educate them, many children are literally abandoned to live “on the streets.” It is little wonder that these children turn to sniffing glue to relieve their hunger pangs and turn to teenage gangs to provide them a sense of comfort and belonging. These gangs actively recruit for members, often targeting children at a young age, who are sent out to run drugs or to steal, or are forced into prostitution or other crimes to prove their loyalty. Begging and stealing become the means to survive.
It was in this setting that El Hogar was founded in 1979, as a mission project of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras. Its goal is to combat the cycle of poverty and offer hope for the future of the people of Honduras. Los Proyectos El Hogar (El Hogar Projects) began its mission by establishing “El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza” (the Home of Love and Hope). To qualify for the program, a child must have no other resources available to it. The initial Home of Love and Hope provided five boys with housing and food. Since then it has grown to providing residential and educational support for 250 children on four campuses: El Hogar, the elementary school, The Episcopal Agricultural School, St. Mary’s Technical Institute and a residence for high school girls, La Casa de Niñas El Hogar in the town of Santa Lucia. They come from both rural and urban backgrounds. The children are supported by about 75 staff members who work closely with the students to give them not only a rich education, but also a sense of pride in themselves and caring for others. But under girding that, El Hogar is inviting children into a community of God’s love.
Although it is not formally supported through the United Church Mission and Service Fund, El Hogar does have strong support from United Church members. The Rev. David Winsor and his wife, Margo Mingay, served as Co-Executive Directors of El Hogar Projects from 1998-2000. Today, Margot’s position is Chair, El Hogar Projects Canada. Once a year, David and Margot take weeklong work teams to El Hogar where team members are accommodated in a volunteer house. Volunteers aged fifteen and over have worked on such projects as constructing a new dorm and painting buildings. The aim is also for volunteers to spend time with the children.
A full Educational Sponsorship of one of the children costs $1,800.00 annually. The El Hogar program offers a relationship with a specific child. He/she will write to the sponsor a few times throughout the year, and the sponsor is encouraged to reply. Corresponding with an El Hogar child is seen by Sylvan as an excellent opportunity for both its Sunday School children and its members at large to form a very real and compassionate relationship with a child in a foreign country, to understand its needs, and to respond. Recognizing that most Canadian adults and children are blessed with a superabundance of material goods, congregants are often looking for more meaningful ways of gift giving or celebrating special events in their lives. They may choose to mark these events with a contribution to Sylvan’s El Hogar Fund.
Since 2009, Sylvan has been sponsoring a child through El Hogar Projects. It first sponsored a young boy in the elementary school. It now sponsors a girl in Grade 9, who lives at La Casa de Niñas El Hogar. She is a very diligent student and her goal is to become a lawyer. She plays basketball and soccer. On the weekends, she volunteers to work with youngsters at El Hogar elementary school. On Saturdays she goes to the university to take classes in English and Basic Office. It is a joy to sponsor this diligent and caring young girl.
For the past five years, Sylvan United has been supporting a young boy who resides at El Hogar, in Tegulcigalpa, the capital of Honduras. El Hogar Projects is a mission project of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras. It was founded in 1979 with a goal to combat poverty and offer a ray of hope for the future of Honduras. Los Proyectos El Hogar (El Hogar Projects) began its mission by establishing “El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza” (the Home of Love and Hope). The initial Home of Love and Hope provided five boys with housing and food. Since then it has grown to providing financial support for 256 boys and girls at the three boarding schools of El Hogar Projects: El Hogar Elementary School, The Episcopal Agricultural School, St. Mary’s Technical Institute and at Casa de Niñas El Hogar (El Hogar Girls Home). To qualify for the program, a child must have no other resources available to it. The students come from both rural and urban backgrounds and are the most desperate of children, most frequently off the streets and very much at risk. They are supported by about 75 staff members who work closely with the students to give them not only a rich education, but also a sense of pride in themselves and caring for others. But under girding that, El Hogar invites children into a community of God’s love.
There is strong Canadian support for El Hogar. Margo Mingay and her husband, Rev. Dr. David Winsor, both from Toronto, served as the Co-Executive Directors of El Hogar Projects from 1998-2000, and they are still involved. In 2011, the Canadian supporters received
Canadian Federal Government charitable status, incorporating as El Hogar Projects (Canada). Margo Mingay currently serves as the Chair of El Hogar Projects (Canada).
All members of Sylvan, from Sunday school age and up, enthusiastically take part in supporting and maintaining rapport with our foster child. We exchange correspondence and keep a photo album. We do ongoing fund-raising through individual donations, flower sales, Christmas swag sales and year round collection of recyclable beverage containers.
We are very proud of our young lad! He is about to graduate from elementary school and he tells us that he plans to continue on at the Agricultural School. He is described by staff as a very sociable boy who enjoys making friends. He likes to paint pictures and bake bread and cakes. He is being trained as a volunteer guide for visitors to El Hogar. For further information visit www.elhogar.org