The school bell rings, children run outside to the playground. It’s recess time. All of the children are playing and having fun, except for Gabrie, an 8-year-old 3rd grade student who is heading to the principal’s office. “Hi Gabrie, how are you? Here is your lunch…later you can go out and play,” says Mrs. Marta Sauceda (pictured right with two of her students). She gives him a big hug. Mrs. Marta is the principal at the school. Every day she feeds Gabrie. He suffers from malnutrition and his mother cannot afford to give him a proper meal. “Gabrie is one of many students, whose situation at home is not good. That’s why, as a teacher, I try to support all of my students with whatever support I can give them,” she says.
The school is located in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. In this neighborhood, children are exposed to many dangers that threaten their lives. “Life for children is very hard, there are entire families living in just one small room, they don’t have privacy, they don’t eat well,” she says. Children in the neighborhood are being recruited by gang members to sell drugs. Parents don’t know where their children are or what they are doing. Some parents might be working or some of them just don’t care. Moral values have been lost and there is no family culture. Children are taking care of other children in a neighborhood surrounded by violence. Hope and a bright future seem far away from them.
“Life is very hard for these children, but there is hope…we needed help and there was only one organization that decided to come inside this neighborhood and change the lives of these children and their families,” Mrs. Marta says. World Vision, through the Fostering Hope at Home Project, provided training for parents and teachers through the Raising Children With Tenderness methodology. Parents and teachers learned how to approach children with love and care. They are learning how to listen to their children and build a better environment for them. World Vision’s partnership with local churches has helped the neighborhood build Peace Road Clubs, where youth and children are learning life skills and how to stay away from gangs, become better citizens, develop friendships with their peers and safe adults. They also invite others to become part of the clubs.
“Thanks to this club, we have recovered many public spaces not only in the school but also in the community. We have a Parent-Teacher committee where we discuss ways we can support, protect and build a better environment for these children,” Mrs. Marta says. “There is still a lot of work to do, this is just the beginning. I love my children and I want them to be safe and happy so they can grow in peace, far from gangs and violence,” she says.
Mrs. Marta notices a 6th grade student passing by and reaches out to hug him. “This child is only 10 years old. He has been punished for stealing from his classmate, but he has changed - he will continue to change,” she says. She starts to cry hugging the boy. “I love you my dear, please understand how much I love you and how I want you to become a good man in life. I believe in you, never forget that,” she says. The boy hugs her back and gives her a big smile. As he runs back to his class, you can feel the hope for a better future, thanks to the love of his teacher.