I think that I took education for granted. I’m not saying that I didn’t get as much out of it as I could when I was going to school, but I didn’t have to work just to go to school.
I would wake up in the morning and my mom (or grandmother) would make me breakfast and make sure that I got on the bus (which was always shiny and clean). I’d go to a building that was always climate controlled and use books that had only been purchased in the past few years. All the while, I had all of the supplies that I could ever need to make sure that I was never lacking for paper or a pencil.
All of these things were expected and that’s why I feel that I took them for granted. On the other side of the coin, you have a country like Honduras. It’s a developing country and so many of the people there are struggling to simply survive from day-to-day. They have their lives to worry about – whether having to deal with vicious gangs, hunger, poverty, etc. – and education doesn’t always rank high on their lists. It’s a sad fact for children growing up there.
That’s where El Hogar comes in. We work with the 250 children who call our four campuses home and make sure that they have an opportunity to get an education. Within our walls they’re safe, they’re fed, they can rest, and they can be kids. They get the lessons in school that they need, but they’ve also learned another very important lesson – one that can’t be taught in a book.
When I was there this past August, I was struck by something that I noticed during my time at the elementary campus. During the day, the children attend classes and do their chores, but when they’re finished it’s time to play. In the US, we get so hung-up on our kids having the latest and greatest of toys to play with – hoping that the newer the toy, the better it will be. In Honduras, it was the complete opposite.
I grew up in a very rural community and it was imperative to have a good imagination. This is something that seems to have been lost with many children in the US due to things like video games and I-Pads. The children at El Hogar didn’t worry about new toys, they were having fun by playing simple games and using their imaginations. At El Hogar, I played games of basketball and futbol (soccer), and drank imaginary cups of leche con chocolate (chocolate milk) – so much fun without a television or computer.
As children go to school to learn lessons about math, science, and history, it’s important that they don’t take the education that they’re getting for granted. It’s a gift more precious than any toy or electronic on a store shelf. One lesson not found in any book, but that is equally important and precious is to never lose our imagination. It’s something that will benefit us for a lifetime. For me, I still use my imagination each day as I develop publications, events, and other outreach materials for El Hogar. It’s something that the children of El Hogar could teach us all.