This is an article about Por Los Niños's elementary school, written by our stateside intern, Megan Peters:
It's 8 AM.
The green-washed valleys surrounding Catacamas are waking with sound, but the small call of native birds and community cattle are only part of it. Just a few miles away at the Por Los Niños village, school is starting for the day, and with this start, more noise is bound to follow!
The school at Por Los Niños, a celebrated 1st-6th academy in Olancho, begins each morning with pattering footsteps, excited chatter between friends, and smiles from the school's beloved teachers, William and Claudia. With decades of experience between the two, the teachers routinely coax students to their seats for a full day of learning before William, who is also the school's principal, heads to his office to check on a few things.
Like other schools in Honduras, the students at Por Los Niños are only in class until noon, but their time with William and Claudia is filled with hands-on activities. The classes offered range from English and Spanish to Bible and even cultural lessons for each grade. It's no secret that the school's wide selection of courses and qualified staff is what keeps the school filled with eager children from both Por Los Niños and the city of Catacamas. The school's reputation is well known throughout the area, and the school is rated as one of the best in the region by the Honduran government.
Lempira, just the word itself, means "Lord of the Mountain."
But, while it's no mountain, the children at Por Los Niños climbed their school's step earlier this July just as the indigenous Lenca people did hundreds of years ago along the western valleys of Honduras. Dressed as those native Lenca warriors and tribes-people, the students all gathered outside to celebrate one of Honduras' most festive celebrations.
Lempira Day is a national holiday celebrated across Honduras in honor of Chief Lempira who was a war chieftain in the early sixteenth-century. As a leader of the indigenous Lenca people, Lempira allied warring tribes with his own to rise against the looming threat of Spanish conquistadors. Though his resistance ultimately failed, Lempira is still recognized as a symbol of unity and nationalism for Hondurans still today.
The village has long had a fence surrounding it, but as Catacamas has grown the house parents have wanted increased security. It has taken a couple of years to get the money, supplies, and labor in place, but it has all come together quite nicely. The whole village pitched in and got the perimeter of the old fence cleared so that the new work could begin. The Cullman work team helped put up new chain linked fencing around the entire perimeter. The final touch was the back gate. Noè led the charge in explaining to Carlos and Edgar how to increase the height while also maintaining the beauty of the gate. Noè cut long rods into varying lengths while Edgar ground the ends into sharp points. Carlos and Edgar drilled holes into the existing gate and Noè welded the rods into place. The final result is pretty impressive and caps off the new fence quite nicely.
The children at Por Los Ninos are growing up and as their guardians we must help them prepare for future vocations. We decided to ask local business people to visit PLN and talk about what they do. We have a bakery owner, a restaurant owner and a few other professionals lined up. The first presentation was made by local law enforcement ("policia"). They spent a lot of time talking and answering the many questions the children had about being a police officer. The presentation got even more special when the policia surprised them with candy and cokes!
Another 2013 "milestone" at Por Los Niños was the graduation of Darlin, youngest daughter of Olga and Jorge. PLN has had others graduate from high school, but Darlin is the first to have been born at PLN and lived her entire life there. She graduated Valedictorian of her class with the highest scores over all. She made the closing speech for her graduating class. Her speech was special to everyone, but especially me. Darlin's closing speech was given in English, probably the only words I truly understood that night. She used an interpreter, her English teacher, to translate her speech from English to Spanish for the rest of the graduation attendants. Now, how special was that!