Thursday, June 27, 2013

How good deeds get done

The Louisiana gang, from left: Ronny Sanders, Carl Glover,
Gordon Holley, Jerry Houston, James Davis,
Jeff Hardel and Casey Fair.
The kids at Angelitos Felices children's home will be sleeping comfy tonight on the new beds and mattresses they've now got thanks to some amazing support from a group of Louisiana men.
     Connections are made in strange ways in Honduras, and the connection that brought these men to Angelitos and to me is no exception. The way it came together reminds me that even though I'm a skeptic about stars aligning and God having a plan, some things really do seem to be fated.
    The men belong to the Calvary Baptist Church in Ruston, Louisiana. One of them, Gordon Holley, has been doing projects in Honduras for many years as part of his university work. He came across my blog last year, saw a post I'd written about our work at Angelitos, and sent me an email asking if I'd take him and fellow congregation member James Davis to the home when they visited in December.
     It was James' first visit to Honduras. There's nothing quite like an orphanage in a developing country to open a person's eyes, and he was clearly moved by the rough conditions that the kids lived in. The men had arrived with suitcases full of clothes for the children, but James - a cabinet maker - said he'd be coming back soon to do more.
Jesus, Juan Carlos and Alex moving mattresses
    I figured he meant it at the time, but that wasn't to say he'd actually be back. But sure enough, he sent me an email a couple of months later with a blueprint for beautiful, sturdy bunk beds with cabinets, and asked me to put him in touch with a construction company in Copan so he could organize materials. A couple weeks ago, Gordon and James arrived with five other congregation members and set about building those beds.
     I was away in the Moskitia doing work when they came, so was no help at all for most of the project. But my spouse Paul stepped up to help out with a few roadblocks (like figuring out how to pay the electric bill at Angelitos so that power and water would be reinstated and the men would be
able to use their power tools). The group also drew on support from old friends at Macaw Mountain Bird Park here in Copan to help source and transport more materials after they bought out everything that Copan Ruinas had.
     I returned from my travels in time to meet them for a final breakfast before they headed home to Louisiana last weekend, and to assure them that when the mattresses arrived this week, I'd get them up to Angelitos and onto those beds. The 24 mattresses came in yesterday. My boss Merlin and I hustled them up to the hogar today using a truck from work.
At last - a bed of their own!
   Most of the bigger kids were away at school when we arrived, but three of the younger boys - ages 5, 6 and 8 - rushed out to help us. They diligently dragged one mattress after another upstairs to the sleeping area, and were waiting to help us again when we came back with the second load.
     The mattresses are beauties - six inches thick, covered in plastic to protect them from turning into stinking, filthy things like the bits of worn foam and weary military mattresses that the children have been sleeping on lately. I wouldn't have expected little kids to be quite so excited about a bed, but let me tell you, these guys are pumped. I wish you could see their beaming faces when I ask which bed is theirs and they proudly lead me to their bunk.
    They've never had that before at Angelitos - a bed of their own. A private place for their clothes and personal items, the few that they have. One spot in this impersonal world that is just for them. It's a huge step forward for child dignity.
     So that's how miracles work. It took flesh-and-blood humans to raise the money, build the beds and make this project happen, but there's still something of the divine about how it all came together. Whatever you want to call it, it feels like hope. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

cool project - but next time, the men should do their work when the older children are around. A prime opportunity to teach the older children a **useful, marketable skill** was lost. Dignity is vital, but so too is independence. All the older kids learned was dependence on rich foreigners. Honduras has enough of that attitude already. :(