IHM’s HONDURAS MISSION
SISTER MARIA ROSA AND SOCIEDAD AMIGOS DE LOS NINOS
“There is always room for one more.” This is the motto of Sister Maria Rosa Leggol of Honduras, whose life has been dedicated to providing shelter, food, education, and hope for a better future for tens of thousands of at-risk children in Honduras–children neglected, abused, abandoned, orphaned, or simply mired in poverty.
IHM began supporting Sister Maria Rosa’s mission, founded in 1966 as Sociedad Amigos de los Ninos (SAN), in 2000 as part of a global outreach for our parish. This outreach ministry sponsors three mission trips a year: an adult group that travels for a week each January or February, a teen group of rising Seniors in high school who travel for a week in June or July, and a young adult week in May or June of mostly college students, some of whom have already been on the mission trip. Offshoot groups have grown out of these trips, such as a Santa brigade of women who shop for and wrap Christmas gifts for Sister’s children .
Our mission trips typically consist of work projects such as painting or light construction. In recent years, we’ve worked on laying bricks for a security wall around the children’s homes, built a bodega (storehouse) for food and clothing, built concrete sidewalks, painted the interiors and exteriors of children’s homes, and done a few Extreme Home Makeovers of the homes, sending the kids outside to play as we put new sheets on all their beds, hung new curtains and shower curtains, and furnished new towels and kitchen items for the house. We also bring down many suitcases of donations from the parish: children’s clothing, shoes, new underwear and socks, toys, school supplies, toiletries, vitamins, and over-the-counter medicines.
We balance work with plenty of playtime with Sister’s children and fellowship with her adult staff, planning evening activities with them to continue building on our strong friendships that are fortified each year with our visits. We spend time with all the children at all of SAN’s social projects: Nuevo Paraiso’s children’s village and schools, the Pedro Atala children’s homes in Tegucigalpa, the Flor Azul Youth Farm, and often the Reyes Irene School for teenage domestic workers. In recent years, we have begun conducting food brigades to neighboring villages, bringing large bags of beans, rice, cornmeal, sugar, and other staple to needy families in rural Honduras. We also take time for our own group to reflect on our experiences, in morning chapel discussions and in one day of sightseeing in Tegucigalpa or Valle de Angeles. We especially enjoy sharing Mass on Sunday with the children of Nuevo Paraiso, holding their hands, listening to their beautiful singing, and enjoying their warm hugs at the sign of peace.
GRACIAS to our IHM parish, who so generously donate money, clothing, sheets, shoes and more to take with us. Thank you for your prayers while we are away, and know that we take all your love with us to our friends in Honduras. IHM was the first group to come help SAN after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and while we are not a large parish, we are steadfast in our love and our Honduran friends know us, expect us, and appreciate our efforts tremendously.
“I have gone three times in the past four years. The hardest part is trying to decide whether or not to go. It is always a sacrifice to leave behind what you have, what you know, and what you are comfortable with — your family, your friends, your job. The rewards come in giving to people who don’t have what you have: to children who don’t have families, to families who don’t have a community, and to communities that need support and nurturing to grow. It is mind-boggling to think how one week a year has resonated in my life, and how what we do in this small amount of time makes a lasting impression on those we help.” — Dr. Robert de Las Alas
“I’ve done volunteer work with the poor and have traveled in Third World countries before. But none of that prepared me for the intensely personal and intimate relationships IHM strikes up with the children of Honduras and their amazing caregivers in one short week. Sister Maria Rosa’s homes for abandoned children, her work with struggling families, her projects and small businesses are miracles in the midst of poverty, and I felt privileged to be a part of it in my own very small way. Any little thing we offered — a talent, medical know-how, construction labor, food, shampoo, even a hug — was received with grace and affection. Also, the intimacy and camaraderie of the IHM team felt like a retreat itself: We’ d start out reporting on our days’ work and end up sharing stories of our lives.” — Kathy Martin O’Neil
WHY GO? What makes the week in Honduras different from other ministries is that your seven days in Honduras is a time set aside wholly for service. You are released from the minutia of your everyday life: work, parenting, running errands, coaching, etc. You don’t have to “schedule” your service time into an already packed day; you are there. It is a time for both personal spiritual growth and service to the poor and orphaned of Honduras.
All you need is a willingness to engage with the Honduran children and adults we serve, to participate in the deep friendship between IHM and Sociedad Amigos de los Niños. All ages and abilities are welcome; you do not need special skills, talents, or strengths because there are projects for everyone. The work ranges wide: from painting walls and light construction to sorting donations and shopping for a food brigade. You do NOT need to speak Spanish!
Cost: The trip averages around $1,200. This covers your airfare, all ground transportation throughout the week, accommodations, and all meals. For many, this is a significant amount of cash, but there are creative ways to come up with the money! Some travelers let their family know well in advance of their mission trip, so they can receive cash as presents for holidays and birthdays to pay for the trip. Others have traded their skills or products for cash in raising the funds. Garage sales are not out of the question! Where there is a will, there is a way.
Immunizations: Certain immunizations are needed before you travel, and they include typhoid, hepatitis A & B, and a tetanus booster. Travelers will also receive a prescription for an anti-malarial medicine. These immunizations need to be done 4-6 weeks before traveling, and you can contact your personal physician for them or a Visiting Nurses Clinic. In cases where we have many new travelers, we can invite a doctor to one of our meetings to administer immunizations and prescribe medications.
Accommodations: We will stay in the rooms provided at Nuevo Paraiso, one of Sister’s children’s villages. It is approximately one hour and 15 minutes from the capital city of Tegucigalpa. YES, you will have safe and clean rooms, (mostly) hot showers, electricity & running water. Also, all meals prepared for us at Nuevo Paraiso are made using purified water, so the food is also safe to eat. It’s fresh and WONDERFUL.
Please keep checking this site, and consider attending our next orientation meeting for first-time travelers. The first meeting for the adult trip each year is usually in September and will be announced in the church bulletin. This is a great time for you to learn more about Honduras, what projects we have planned for the next trip, and ask questions. To keep up to date, go to the Time and Talent section of the IHM home page and sign up for “Honduras Mission;” this way, you will receive emails about upcoming events.
TRAVELING TO HONDURAS ISN’T RIGHT FOR ME THIS YEAR. HOW ELSE CAN I SUPPORT THIS MISSION? There are many ways:
- Donate items that we take down to Honduras for the children! Look for these announcements in the January bulletin.
- Support our Young Adult Summer Group through sponsoring a young adult or donating children’s shoes and clothes!
- Give money to IHM specifically for the Honduras fund.
- Sponsor a child through Friends of Honduran Children Indiana. This organization, made up mostly of IHM parishioners, is a not-for-profit group that administers child sponsorships, scholarships, and project funds for Sociedad Amigos de los Ninos in Honduras. Visit their website at www.fhcindiana.org to find out more about sponsoring a child for as little as $35 per month.
- Donate to Friends of Honduran Children’s Scholarship Fund for deserving students to attend universities in Honduras and abroad. Visit www.fhcindiana.org for more information.