The year 2003 has been a good one for this orphanage in La Ceiba, Honduras. The number of sponsors has grown to 85 and the number of sponsored children has grown to 115. The sponsors currently pay $12/month/child, and they send 3 gifts per year (Birthdays, Children’s Day and Christmas).
These gifts and the exchange of letters, provide an essential contact between the sponsors and the children at SOS La Ceiba. The level of care at SOS is very good, but the kids have a deep need to know that someone somewhere cares about them. Like all kids, they crave love and attention. We try and take them in small groups on outings to the beach, river, islands, botanical gardens, biological reserves, etc nearly every weekend, including some overnights at our house or in other destinations. This provides them with individual attention that is hard to provide under the setting at SOS. Since January 2002, we have taken 500 children on outings, which obviously includes repeat trips for most kids. Special reports with photos are sent to all sponsors covering these outings and other events. My daughter Dana Thibodeau helps out in California with the deposit of all the sponsor funds.
With help from some generous sponsors, SOS La Ceiba finally has telephone service. They have only had unreliable cellphone service in the last few years. It was necessary to buy radiotelephone equipment, plus a fax, which came to $2000.
With the help of a gentleman in Wisconsin and another in Holland, we have set up a computer lab at SOS with 6 used computers. Two computers are equipped with speakers and microphones, which allow use of the interactive English tutorial “Hablamos Ingles”, which comes on 3 CDs. The children now can learn some English right at the Aldea, along with computer skills. They can also do school assignments requiring computers, and write to their sponsors. We hope to have a lady volunteer come on Saturday afternoons to teach Microsoft Office programs. I help out with both the English and computer skills during the week. The older kids are also producing their very first SOS bulletin using the program Microsoft Publisher. The 1st edition comes out in mid-September with news and photos of happenings at SOS La Ceiba.
In addition, we have 6 children taking English classes at Harris Communications here in La Ceiba. They go Saturday mornings, and are half-way through the 9 month program. I encourage them to speak English with me whenever we are together. There are also 5 children that are taking computer classes here in town, plus 2 more that have completed the 1 month course. These classes are all made possible by generous sponsors and other donors. We hope to continue these programs if funding is available, as this will give these kids a big break in life. There is a premium on English and computer skills here in the country.
Recently we took digital photos of all the children, that are available to send to potential sponsors. By email, we sent each sponsor a recent photo of their sponsored child(ren).
Every month, we buy gifts for those that are celebrating birthdays, with the 15th birthdays for girls being very special events. At year end there are also baptisms and 1st communions. On September 9, the children were invited by the 1st lady to the Barcelo Aquatic Park for the day, which was a big event for all of them. Then on Children’s Day (September 10), the children and their “tias” (aunts) put on a special singing and dancing program, followed by the distribution of gifts from the sponsors, and cake, ice cream cones, cokes and big red balloons. We will have to buy another 115 gifts in just 3 months when Santa Claus is due. Our thanks to all the sponsors that help make these children happy with their gifts and letters. A special thanks to those that provide gift funds for children with no sponsors, so that these kids won’t be left out.
Standard Fruit de Honduras is now providing 10 boxes/week of Mayan Gold pineapples to SOS La Ceiba.
During the year, we provided foam fluoride treatment and a toothbrush to all kids between the ages of 5 and 11. We also obtained donations of T-shirts, medicines, washcloths, rakes, tools, notebooks, school texts, toys, etc. Through Internet contact with the Global Education Fund, we obtained 15 boxes of beautiful books in Spanish and full color for the library. Many of these came in multiple copies allowing use in the kindergarden. These books provide many hours of reading pleasure, plus a real educational experience outside of school classes. Internet connections have also allowed us to obtain specialized, low-cost medical treatment for a number of children. These include a young girl with crossed-eyes, another needing a replacement eye prosthesis, a boy with kidney disease, a boy needing a hearing aid, etc. We hope to be able to continue finding help for other children with medical problems.
It is worth mentioning that the need for care of orphaned and abandoned children in Honduras has been increasing at a monumental pace in the last several years. Care facilities are unable to meet this growing demand. One of the causes is the AIDS epidemic, in which the children lose both parents, or their single mother. One of our sponsors, Peggy Gray, has helped us over the last several years in finding new sponsors.
A very special thanks to all our sponsors for their continuing support.