GIFT Bursary report Esme Pringle

Report Six months in Honduras

The Younger girls of the farm, wearing their new Christmas dresses

Six Months in Honduras

First Grade very much in their element
After almost six hectic, enlightening, wonderful months in Honduras, it has finally sunk in that my time here is finite. With just half a year left, I feel it is only fitting that I now find the time to update the people that have made this journey possible.

 After a last-minute country change in late June, just five weeks later I began my life in Honduras, bright-eyed, enthusiastic and completely naive. Our project is new, meaning that Charlotte, my partner, and I were welcomed into the town of Yamaranguila, lntibucd with little expectation from the locals and a clean slate with which to work; it was up to us discover what this rural area in Honduras had to offer. Keen to get involved and make this

At Yafred's 60th Party. Pinatas are a staple at every celebration

Jefferson and Sindi are twins who both receive a scholarship. They walk for two hours over a mountain each morning to get to school
place feel like home, we threw ourselves into it from the offset. These past six months have seen us getting involved in the local girls' home, joining a football and basketball team, tutoring people in English, becoming a part of our landlord's family, and making so many new friends - Americans, Canadians, English and, of course, Hondurans. On top of our work with the school, we have fully established ourselves as members of our little community.

Our little apartment is right in the centre of our little village, meaning we are close to the pulperias (shops), central park and the all-weather pitch. Our living situation is perfect in that we have all the benefits of a host family, but are also able to live independently. Our two roomed flat is connected to a house of a Honduran family so, although we have our own little kitchen and our own privacy when we want it we have also been accepted as kind-of 'live-in cousins' in this family too. A matriarchy headed by the funniest, feistiest mother l'veever met, Mercedes, our family consists of her husband Melvin, their youngest son and daughter, Yafred and Dulce, and a multitude of assorted uncles, aunts, cousins, older children and grandparents. There is always something happening and always someone new to meet, be it

The Foreign teachers with the Honduran president, Juan Orlando Hernandez. He attended our school inaugaration

Helping out a fourth grade Art Class, before Christmas
birthday parties, a game of football, dinner, or just a cup of coffee in the evening. When not at school, we spend a great deal of time with the family and, as they speak no English, it has also done a great deal for our Spanish. Without this "granny-flat" set up, I am sure that our year in Honduras would have taken on a very different shape and we wouldn't have experienced nearly as much of typical Honduran life as we have been able to.

Our school is the newest member of the very well renowned and established Vida Abundante family: a branch of Christian, bilingual school. My main role is a teacher's assistant: I take out small groups of struggling kids for extra help, give 1:1 tuition to those children who have missed a significant amount of schooling or have learning difficulties – of

which there are a number - and cover classes when homeroom teachers are absent. The level of responsibility I have been entrusted with is truly humbling, if occasionally overwhelming! Working with these kids is often exhausting, usually challenging and always rewarding; I have learnt so much more from them than I could ever hope to teach. Many of the pupils are inconceivably poor, and are in receipt of a scholarship. ln Honduras, education is the prime focus for every family and parents will go to any length to ensure their kids receive the best; in a country with such high unemployment, a good education is seen as the only potential route out of poverty.

At a bird santuary in Copan. The one on the right is the national bird of Honduras - Scarlet Macaw
Never before have I fully contemplated just how much I took for granted in the UK: access to free, first class schooling, textbooks and qualified teachers. These are all things that are just not available here in any capacity, even a well funded private school like ours. The unrelenting optimism of the most deprived families her is, in truth, uplifting and I hope that I have absorbed even a fraction of these positive vibes.

Our next challenge begins later this month, with the beginning of Nivelacion – a six month intensive English course, to equip new pupils with the necessary proficiency to start school in August. Charlotte and I will be taking classes, which is a daunting but exiting development.

Since we follow the American school year, our time-off coincides with that in the UK, with a long summer break. During this time, Charlotte and I are planning to travel across Central America - up to Mexico and down to Costa Rica and everywhere in- between - but we have managed to fit in

Talitha Cumi Girls during the Independance Day parade.

some short travels in our small breaks and weekends. So far we have stayed exclusively in Honduras, travelling to the coast for a change of scenery, and up to visit Mayan Ruins for a dose of history. For New Year we travelled to the Caribbean island of Utila to spend time with 14 of the other Project Trust volunteers in Honduras; a very welcome break at the beach, after five months of cold and wind up in the mountains!  Since arriving here, my plans for the future have

Christmas Dinner at Talitha Cumi
changed and I reapplied to university; this meant I had to travel alone up to capital city, Tegucigalpa - the second most dangerous city in the murder capital of the world - in order to take an admissions test. All of this was carried out using public transport in the form of chicken buses and coaches which, although extremely cheap at barely f3 for a six hour coach journey, leaves much to be desired.

With Lesmond and Isaura, two First Graders, before our school's Christmas progamme.
Talitha Cumi is a girls' orphanage which we have become closely connected with over our time here. Several of the girls from here attend our school, and we often drive there in the evenings and on weekends to help out, watch films and have dinner. The girls each have monstrous back stories, with the majority coming from serious neglect, mistreatment, and exploitation; although we try our best,there is no way that Charlotte and I will ever come close to understanding the irreversible impact this has had on many of them. The farm - affectionately known as such by the locals - was created over 20 years ago by an incredible American lady, who still runs it today. Time spent here is chaotic and

The younger girls of the farm, wearing their new Christmas Dresses.
spontaneous  with no two days ever the same. The girls get into fights, run away, steal and get pregnant, but there are also always birthdays and celebrations and it is very much a place of joy and hope. ln fact, the name "Talitha Cumi" itself is very fitting for the opportunities the farm gives: it comes from Mark 5:21 and translates to "Rise Up, Little Girl". Charlotte and I had the pleasure of sharing in their Christmas celebrations, and were even included in the Secret Friend present swap. From watching Spanish Christmas movies, to eating tamales, to the older girls trying - and failing! - to teach us to dance Latina style, Christmas 2015 will be one unlike any other.

 It is difficult to condense six months of adventures into one quick update, and nothing I say will truly reflect how much l've learned, matured and grown in this time. I will be writing another report in August, to give a full 12 month picture, where hopefully I can better convey the impact Honduras has had on me. Project Trust have now organised our return flights and I will be arriving back in the UK on the 31't of July, where I will be taking up my place at the University of Glasgow to study Law with Spanish in September. I never would have  considered this route Of study if it wasn't for my time here in Honduras, specifically my time with  Talitha Cumi, so this is just one example of the long term impacts this year will have on my life. I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity to live and work in this amazing country, and I owe it all to the extreme generosity of the charitable trusts, organisations and people who donated money.  Thank you. 

Some of the ruins at Copan - this view is the same as the picture on the lemaira note

The Fruit Market at La Esperanza

Our School, before it was finished being built

Part of the Independance Day Parade in Yamaranguila

Lunchtime at School

La Esperanza - The Hope