I recently spent three days with children the Bill Cook Foundation are supporting in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Managua, Nicaragua. The kids are in the facilities of Casa Alianza (Covenant House), where they find refuge from the slums, gangs and sexual trafficking of those harsh cities. Our contribution to these children supports education they receive in facilities outside of where they live, including various vocational programs and programs where they receive remedial, 'catch-up' instruction.
Despite the horrors from which they came, the children are well behaved and surprisingly well-adjusted teenagers. Security and love and school and therapy work in harmony to mitigate the violence they have endured to mind, body, and spirit. In Managua, I helped to smash a piñata celebrating December birthdays, including mine. When asked what their aspirations, their answers were not much different than most children—doctor, nurse, professional athlete, etc. Alas, none wanted to be a historian!
In Tegucigalpa, I went with an intake team to a trash dump, where kids and some adults live. We brought food and cocoa, and one team member played a guitar. I led a chorus of Feliz Navidad! Some young adults came for the food and were somewhat surly, perhaps embarrassed. Young mothers came with babies, along with several early adolescents. These are the ones that we hope to help at Casa Alianza—before they are forced into gangs and immersed in drug culture.
I talked to one young man, Jorge, who at age 11 is not in school. It is not clear whether he has ever attended school. We want him to come to Casa Alianza so he can become literate and learn a marketable skill and live a life of stability and commitment.
I thank everyone who has contributed to the Bill Cook Foundation, for you are giving the gifts of hospitality and hope. Bill.