Market Children

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HELP HONDURAS (health education literacy program)

History

The Tegucigalpa Market Children Program evolved from a 1992 Grant from the Rotary Foundation, sponsored by three Rotary Clubs in Kelowna , BC and the Rotary club of Teguicigalpa, Honduras. The grant studied the problems of Street Kids and the Working Poor in Tegucigalpa. Following completion of the Study, it was apparent that there were many problems related to Education, Health and development of the children. Very few of the children were attending school and without any education, they were likely to end up as poor and illiterate as their parents. The parents did not have a basic knowledge of hygiene, health and the incidence of childhood diseases and this resulted in a high rate of child mortality. In order to solve some of the problems, the Rotary Club of Tegucigalpa started an NGO, Alternativas Y Opprtunidades (AYO). The first Director of the project was Dr. Don Kaminsky, a club member and experienced professional in the field of public health and social programs. The club ran the organization through a board of Directors, all of whom were Rotarians.

Many of the parents did not see the need for their children to attend school. Many of the boys drfifted to petty theft and gangs. Many of the girls wound up as prostitues.
  
AYO decide to get the children into school by offering "sponsorships" that would pay for the things the children needed to attend school that were not provided by the public school system. They provided 2 sets of uniforms, street shoes and gym shoes, books, book bags, and school supplies like pencils, erasers, paper, workbooks etc. The parents (mostly single mothers) were required to sign a pledge to allow their children to attend school and turn over their report cards to AYO so they could monitor the child's attendance and progress. Committees were formed in each market and a school for parents was started. 

AYO decided to tackle some of the medical problems by providing a doctor for the families in the program, so they needed medical supplies, a location for a clinic and most of all a doctor. Following Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the Irish Disaster Relief Organization, GOAL, came to HOnduras and the AYO was able to convince them to provide funding to operate the medical clinic and cover administrative costs of the program.

Also in 1998, Dr. John Mackay from Nelson, BC went to Tegucigalpa, met Dr. Kaminsky and was convinced that the project was worth supporting. He convinced other Rotarians to travel to Honduras. It was then that pictures of the student and certificates became part of the fund raising efforts.  Every sponsor receives a picture of the student and certificate of thanks from the Rotarians , all at no cost to the program.

Since the first trip other Rotarians have travelled to Tegucigalpa and returned to raise funds for the program. The word of the program and its success with the students and their families has spread across Canadian and US Rotary clubs and individual sponsors.

In Honduras similar programs have been started for the Tegucigalpa Municipal Dump Children and for Market Children in the villages of Danli and Santa Barbara