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About This Blog

First off, welcome to our blog.
Who are we? We are volunteers.
We are volunteers that have left our everyday lives back home to travel to the northern coast of Honduras to care for these lost, abandoned, and homeless children.
We are volunteering through a fantastic organization called Helping Honduras Kids that has created many projects for children throughout Northern Honduras and has given us the chance to be a part of this great work.
Below you will find pictures, heart felt stories, and our experiences as we continue to live in an orphanage called the Hogar de Amor, in English translated into "Home of Love".

Volunteering in Honduras - Beautiful Country and Beautiful Children

>> Wednesday, November 21, 2012

By Dana Banderet
November 21, 2012

I have been volunteering with Helping Honduras Kids for 41 days now. It has been a wonderful experience. I recently moved from California to live here in La Ceiba and volunteer on a permanent basis.

This past weekend, the weather was cool and nice. I was so ready to get away from being on the computer working for hours on end all week long. I was tired and needed some time with the kids. Saturday we went to another Children’s Home in the city called Casa del Nino (Boy’s Home). The Hogar de Amor played soccer against the Boy’s Home and they all had a blast. One boy’s sneakers were just too big for him and every time he kicked the ball, one of his sneakers went flying into the air. He was a real trooper though and didn’t let that stop him. Eventually he played without any shoes.
The HHK kids won the game 2-1. Carlos did a back flip and kicked the ball into the goal and made the team’s first goal of the afternoon. Little Mainor and his brother Angelo worked hard to keep up with the older boys and played well. Their bright yellow soccer uniforms were a nice contrast to the other team’s green colors.

This is a video of Carlos making the first goal for HHK. Soccer game

Once the game was over, the kids went inside the Boy’s Home building and played jump rope, card games and other games. There were kids everywhere. These boys at the Casa del Nino Home were really something. They jumped rope like I have never seen before. They would jump as a group but also individually and jumped rope while doing push-ups at the same time. It was all pretty wild, entertaining and impressive.

The kids have all left such an impression on me. They take life as it comes and make the best of everything. They are so unassuming and know how to entertain themselves with little to no props or toys. All the kids play well together too, big and small.

Life wasn’t always so easy or good for them though. All of them are in the Hogar de Amor because of severe abuse of one kind or another. Unimaginable things have happened to all of them. The first five years at the Hogar were rough as they adjusted to new surroundings, learned to trust each other and the caretakers, and live together. Some were extremely violent and had anger so deep that if they could have stabbed someone, they would have. Many of the girls would not speak to the founder of HHK or come near him at first, because they had been so abused by other men in their families.
Several girls have run away, and two others were so violent that they could not stay at the Hogar for fear they would hurt one of the other children or caretakers. It is hard to imagine what they must have gone through, and yet children are so resilient.

Today, as they all play together and have their occasional disagreements, you would never know they had been through so much abuse. God has been so good to these children. As they began to attend church and find out they have a heavenly Father who loves them, they have settled down tremendously. Most of the children are now saved and baptized. It is wonderful to get hugs from them all. One of the older boys, Venancio, is so polite and very gentle. He always comes up to me and says hello and shakes my hand. When he was sick not long ago with fever and really feeling awful, I prayed for him. Tears rolled down his face. It almost brought me to tears too. I wanted him to feel better right then. He went to bed and the next day he told me he was feeling better.  He has reminded me a couple of times in the following days again that he was better. I told him God is good and to praise and thank the One who healed Him.

On Sunday, we went to Peru beach. It was a nice sandy beach with no one around. There was a river that ran into the ocean that the kids played in. Some of the older boys took the 30 year old boogie boards that HHK has been using and went boogie boarding in the ocean. The waves were choppy due to the rain and wind from the day before. It looked like it still wanted to rain that afternoon but the sun held out.

Some of the kids played hopscotch in the sand, some picked fruit and berries from the nearby trees, and one boy, Santos, wrote “I love you Hannah” in the sand. He asked me to take a picture of him next to his art work and send it to his “madrina” (godmother/sponsor). He was so proud of his beach art. He carved the sand with his hand and then broke pieces of wood to fit into all the letters of all the words until it was completed. At first, he misspelled love, and when I pointed it out to him, he just started all over again. It had to be perfect.

The kids get excited when they get a chance to write something to their sponsors on Facebook. I helped several children write small notes to their sponsors. Each day afterwards, they excitedly ask me if there had been a response. They come running to the gate when I show up at the Hogar and that is the first thing they ask me. “Has my sponsor replied yet” What did they say?” Their little smiles just light up the room.
One of the girls, Cherlin, played tickle monster at the beach with me and squeezed me so tight all afternoon that I had sore ribs the next day. She is a sweet but quiet girl usually. This day though, she was hugging and tickling and chasing me around.

As we drove home after a fun afternoon in the sun and surf, I found myself gazing out the window of the car and looking at the jungle trees and mountains as they whizzed by. Honduras is a beautiful country with all its different shades of greens against the blue skies. There are several different types of trees. Some are flowering, some tower high overhead, some overhang and offer a lot of shade and some are pines. Even the clouds and rain have a beauty of their own. Yet, amidst all that beauty was also poverty, lack, despair, and dirty mud & wood huts thrown together with some plastic, wood and metal sheets to keep out the rain and weather. Mothers were watching their children play or washing clothes in dirty water; the only water there was. Kids are dirty and often do not have shoes to wear, and many had extended stomachs from hunger. There were babies with babies; young girls as young as 12, 13 & 14 raising babies they had bore.
I rarely saw men as part of the family unit. In the campesino villages we visited from time to time to give out food and clothes, there were hundreds of children and women. I often wondered where all the men were. There were a few but it was obvious the family unit was not what God intended it to be.

As I continue my journey in this land, working and learning and spending time with the children here, I am blessed to be a part of an awesome organization, Helping Honduras Kids that takes such good care of so many children. Not just at the Hogar de Amor, but also at the Jungle School, the Grandma kids up in the mountains and other poor local families, and the Campesino Peasant Villages. There is a lot of need and never enough time to do everything, but one thing I have learned is that with God, there is always enough, and He is big enough to handle the toughest of situations as He gives us the grace to meet the needs of so many.


>> Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Life lessons learned in Honduras

Thursday, July 30, 2009 4:25 PM EDT
“Oye Amor, es una tortura perderte.” Twenty-two little Honduran voices sang these lines back to me from Shakira’s song “La Tortura” this past month during my time at the Hogar de Amor home for abused children. In English, the line translates “oh love, it is a torture to lose you.”

One month ago I was listening to this song on my iPod, on a plane to Honduras, unsure of what was to come next, fresh off the podium of high school graduation.

Now the words have taken on a new meaning: it is a torture to leave those children and that experience in Honduras behind, with the 22 little voices still echoing in my ears as I make the difficult transition back to reality.

I went into my volunteer experience in Honduras with unrealistic expectations. I was going to transform the lives of these children, whom I had never met, and they would never be the same.

I was immensely humbled when I arrived at the Hogar de Amor, part of the Helping Honduras Kids Organization, and began to adopt the natural rhythm of the day-to-day routines of the children. The children (ranging from ages 5-14) get up every day at 5 a.m. and get in line, oldest to youngest, to use the showers.

They then do their morning cleaning, eat breakfast together and head off to the school building in the gated orphanage grounds to begin a day of learning at 7 a.m. sharp. Most volunteers teach students grades kindergarten to fifth, and by noon, classes are done and lunch is served. After lunch, the kids have a time for chores, then the rest of the afternoon and night is theirs.

Since my time at the Hogar de Amor was short, I wanted to take advantage of all the extra time I had with the children. Many of the kids were bright and curious, and wanted to learn English. We started an afternoon English class and in a week’s time, they all could introduce themselves in English and sing the chorus of Taylor Swift’s song “Love Story.”

I ended each day in utter exhaustion, having drained my energy on 22 never-tiring children. It was a good kind of exhaustion though, because for the first time in a long time, I was too busy focusing on the problems and needs of others, that I didn’t have time to dwell on my (small in comparison) own problems. For the first time in a long time, I was feeling content.

Teaching second grade was no easy task. I had a curriculum to follow but I exhausted half of my energy on getting the kids to stop fighting and focus before I could even begin to teach.

When I was not playing with the kids or teaching, I was getting to know the other volunteers. They came from all parts of the world and everyone had an interesting story behind their reason to come to Honduras. We picked up on each other’s “cultural quirks” and exchanged stories of Europe, Australia and the U.S.

It was nice to have others with whom I could observe the Honduran culture and share some of the same memories and experiences. Since we had the weekends off, and everything in Honduras is much cheaper than it is back home, we were able to visit islands off the coast of Honduras and recharge before another week of teaching hard and playing harder at the orphanage.

When it was finally time to say goodbye (I had to cut my trip a little short due to the political unrest in the country), I did not think I would cry, did not think it would hit me until later. I walked into the schoolhouse, where everyone was sitting obediently at their desks, to give one last “abrazo” (hug) to the kids.

It wasn’t until I was saying goodbye to Lourdes, a five-year-old who I called “my monkey” because she would climb to the top of the orange trees in the backyard that I started tearing up.

“Pon yo en su mochila. Trae tu mono a los Estados Unidos.” (“Put me in your backpack. Take your monkey to the United States”) Lourdes commanded in her tiny voice as she proceeded to unzip my backpack to try to fit in.

Going to Honduras taught me to be independent when getting around; commanding and patient when teaching a class and enforcing rules; understanding when dealing with kids who have had a difficult past; frugal when bargaining with hostel owners and fruit vendors; sincere when making new friends and sharing new experiences; and appreciative for the family I have in Houston that allowed me the trust and financial means to take the trip in the first place.

By the time I arrived in Houston, I was already homesick for Honduras. I couldn’t see that we were in an “economic crisis” when people in Honduras seemed perfectly content to get by with so much less.

The month I spent in Honduras was the best trip I have taken and was the best thing I could do before going to college, as I now have a new sense of self and independence. While I already miss the kids terribly, I hope to return and plan to start a support chapter of their organization at my college, so I can continue to help.

While I hope the kids remember me and I hope I had a meaningful impact on their lives, truth be told, they did more for me than I did for them.

Due to the political instability in Honduras and the recession in the United States, the Helping Honduras Kids Organization is in need of money to continue caring for and educating the children. If you want to learn more on how you can get involved with the Hogar de Amor or the Helping Honduras Kids, visit


Article written by Volunteer and student Rachel Forseth

>> Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Elusive Gift of Play

By Rachel Forseth

My journey in Honduras was filled with extremes -- beauty like nothing I could have imagined, but brokenness and hurt that I could not quite comprehend. Heart warming stories and heart wrenching tragedies. Laughter and joy that was contagious, but tears and burdens carried by all. On our third day there, I found myself at a loss for words while staring into the face of a starving, crying orphan living in a poor rural area near La Ceiba, Honduras. Saying “Jesus loves you” felt oddly hypocritical, or maybe just an understatement. It took everything out of these small children to squeeze a smile upon receiving relief supplies that might last them a month. I asked an 11-year old girl named Diane what she wanted most in the world. Her answer was simply, “para poder jugar”... “to be able to play”.

Diane takes care of her three siblings, and they live together with other children orphaned by injustice in a part of town known as “Grandmother's Kids”. I would have given anything I owned at that minute to bring hope to just one person. All I had in my backpack were pens, a chapstick, a few powerbars, and a hat. The small portion of food was probably all that the three of four children who split it would eat all day, maybe even for the next few days. The less than three dollars worth of spare change I gave to a 75-year old woman brought her to tears saying, “Gracias a JesuCristo.”

At the Hogar de Amor orphanage where we worked, the children were starving for love, but they seemed to have plenty of love to give. These kids have nothing but each other. They are a makeshift family but that is all they seem to need. From the second I met 4-year old Lourdes ("Lula"), my heart experienced a new kind of love. After holding her in my arms the entire time we were there, I found it hard to put her down. I carried her across the river on my shoulders. I watched her interact with other kids at the orphanage. Lula changed my life simply by being who she was. Lula had been living with an abusive father. She has a scar on her forehead that marks the trauma she has suffered.

While we were driving through a jungle road one day, Lula pointed to a house across the river and calmly explained to me that her older sister had died there. Lula had a habit of climbing up a tree in the backyard to collect beans that she used as jacks. On the last day of our visit, Lula screamed with delight when I brought her plastic jacks and marbles. When she went into her room to stash them in her pillow case (her safe haven for the most prized belongings), another girl named Patricia was crying on the bunk next to her. Without hesitation, Lula handed Patricia her jacks. She did not stop crying. Then Lula handed over her favorite pink shirt. Then her bandana. Nothing stopped the crying. Finally, Patricia told Lula she was crying because the “tios” and “tias” ("aunties" and "uncles", as they called us) were leaving that day. Lula broke down and started crying as well.

These kids are so desensitized to their own pain that they carry each other’s burdens without even realizing it. It was a cruel thing to leave these kids after the bonds we developed with them. We thought the goodbyes were heart wrenching, but to them it was more painful than we may ever understand. I will never forget Lula clinging onto my neck and crying for ten minutes. I had to peel her off with tears running down my face as I boarded the bus. She said “Jesus es el puente de tu y yo.”... "Jesus is the bridge between you and me". These words were uttered by a 4-year old.

These kids live a life as if Christ died yesterday and will return tomorrow. They have faith that is immeasurably great, especially considering the life they have been given. This is just one story of one child. All of the children at the orphanage have experienced horror that most of us will probably never have to endure.

Something that really made an impression on me is how those with the least are the ones that give the most. One day a group of us walked with a 13-year old named Eloisa on her daily 4-hour round-trip hike through the jungle to get to school. Upon arriving at her house, her mother -- surrounded by five of her children -- cooked us all the food they had -- food that was meant to last for the rest of the week. We could not help thinking, “Why don’t you eat it?” But selfishness is out of the question when there is nothing but need all around you. With a small contribution of change each of us carried in our pockets, we gave this family more money than it could earn in six months. That shows how far a small gesture can go.

Another site we visited was home to over a hundred small children, their mothers, and their grandmothers. I did not see a father or an older man. The supplies they needed most: birth control. It is not that teenagers are having unprotected sex; it’s because girls who were 12, 13, and 14 years old are being raped and are having children for whom they cannot care. This tragedy fuels the poverty in Honduras. The girls can barely take care of themselves. Without being able to protect themselves from the selfish acts others, these girls are left with numerous offspring to provide for as well.

Some of the things I saw and heard were too difficult to describe. I tried to take photographs of faces and situations that capture the desolation, but I felt like I was robbing them of something. I told myself that it would not be in vain. Leaving food and clothing and education is merely a quick fix. What I was seeing had to be broadly exposed and embraced.

It takes a while to process even a small portion of the grief that exists in the world. A lot of us who traveled to Honduras were left with confusion and anger. How could these things happen? Who is to blame? Where are the answers? The only answer I can think of lies within me. I am the only one whose actions I can control. Those with the experiences and the knowledge of what is out there, and the ability to do something to make a difference, have a responsibility to act. Each of us simply has to do what we can with what we have at this moment... and stop pointing fingers at others. This doesn’t mean that we have to sell everything we own or move to another country. It doesn’t mean that these problems have easy solutions. It means that we need to be conscious, and that apathy is not an option. (7/20/10)

Note: The author is a 15 year old high school student from California. The orphanage she visited is run by Helping Honduras Kids (HHK), a 501 (c) (3) non-profit based in La Ceiba.


Posted on volunteer blog from a Vanderbilt U. volunteer

>> Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

Posted by Laura Pierce on Tuesday, November 30, 2010.
Early November, my Thanksgiving Break plans looked something like this:
  • Spend time with family
  • Catch up with old friends
  • Start applying for summer internships
  • Get lots of sleep
  • Enjoy the timeless Thanksgiving dinner
  • Hide inside from the cold
  • Drive about 12 hours to Dublin, Ohio and back
My actual Thanksgiving Break went a little more like this:
  • Sent my family a few emails
  • Made many new friends
  • Volunteered at a school and orphanage
  • Got a little sleep
  • Enjoyed many unique meals (with lots of tropical fruit)
  • Spent hours outside in the sun
  • Travel about 32 hours to La Ceiba, Honduras and back
I believe that when an opportunity presents itself, you should say yes. Yes, yes, yes. A last minute spot was offered to me on a Manna service trip when a former participant could no longer go. Once I received my parents support, it took less than 5 minutes for me to decide to give up my Thanksgiving plans at home to travel to Honduras. (Here is another link about Manna Project International)
As volunteers we worked with the non-profit organization Helping Honduras Kids (HHK). In the mornings we provided manual labor at the Jungle School. We hauled sand, bricks, cement and other materials up the hill to the school to help construct a new classroom and fix sidewalks. About 80 children, most from poor economic conditions, attend this free, private school. For some of the students, the hot lunch they receive is their only healthy meal.
After physically challenging work, we would eat lunch before take a much needed swim in the Congrejal River to cool off. The afternoons were spent with children in the Hogar, or the Children’s Home. Reading, drawing, playing games, dancing, singing and more. Within a few days we genuinely felt connected to these kids.
Highlights from the week:
  • Watching the new Harry Potter movie with the older children (in Spanish subtitles of course)
  • Attending the Kindergarten and 8th grade graduation at the Jungle School.
  • Going to fiesta at the Hogar for children with a birthday in November.
  • Watching the children put on a talent show. (We participated too with a funny dance to Shakira)
  • Our breaks from service: exploring a Honduran beach one afternoon, rafting down a river through the jungle Thanksgiving day, and exploring the local markets.
  • Painting a mural on a concrete wall at the Jungle School. 

It’s amazing how much one can experience in a week. This list should be longer and the details I could add are endless. In general, the capacity children have to love is inspiring. Many of the children we met in La Ceiba were orphans, with shocking backgrounds of struggle and abuse. These kids, as well as the volunteers and caretakers were so compassionate and truly inspirational. While providing help and making changes for them, I changed as an individual, gaining new appreciations and a sense of awareness for international service.
This was an actual break from my life. New country, new culture, new people, new experiences. (The only thing that was the same was the Central time zone!) Don’t get me wrong – I missed my family and the highly anticipated turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. But Thanksgiving break – a holiday focused around being thankful and appreciative – was the perfect time to give back and serve others. This experience also gave me time to reflect and add to the Thanksgiving question “What I am thankful for?”
Today we received this touching email from Eddy Barillas, Sponsor Representative for HHK:
“… You guys have all left a permanent imprint in all these kids hearts, minds and souls which will never be forgotten… I thank you kindly for the great role models that you are and I hope that these kids can one day follow in the footsteps that you have left here. Thank you ever so much.”
To conclude, I will give a shout out to Tyler and Will, seniors who – by the time they graduate – will have volunteered with HHK in La Cieba five times. While this was only my first international service trip, I am, without question, so thankful for this Thanksgiving break.
Laura Pierce This entry was posted by Laura Pierce on November 30, 2010


Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University MANNA PROJECT INTERNATIONAL Volunteers at Helping Honduras Kids


Ryerson University

Students from ALL ACCESS VOLUNTEERS Ryerson University in Toronto Canada Volunteer at the Jungle School during their spring break Feb. 2011


My Time in Honduras: Starting Anew

>> Monday, November 1, 2010

My Time in Honduras: Starting Anew: "Feeling better! Around 85% which is pretty good in my opinion. I'm able to talk, able to eat more than liquid, and basically be normal; so y..."


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Thanks for visiting our blog and remember to visit again! We will be posting weekly updates keeping you up to date on our new adventures with the kids! Thank you for all of your support!
---HHK Volunteers

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