I have visited ProNino three times total, the first time being a month long school trip in 2011. Looking back at my time there I have always held on to one memory, partly, because I am reminded of it each night but mostly because the pure sincerity of it. While at the organization in 2011 we had a going away party for our group, it was filled with dancing, food and smiles until later in the night when goodbyes had to come. I was a wreck…I didn’t feel as if I was ready to leave and better yet these children had become such a part of me, the memories ran throughout my head and I thought of every way I could continue my schooling in Honduras. In the last 10 minutes of our “party” I was approached by a boy that I had created a special bond with. He was around 10 years old, dimply cheeks and was quiet to most but we managed to have some hilarious times together. From the time when the wheelbarrow filled with sand spilled everywhere and we slowly picked it up with a broken shovel in hysterics or the time that we found baby bunnies and we created a “playhouse” for them. As the night came to an end, he came and asked if I would come with him because he had something for me. He reached out and gave me a long letter and the necklace he wore each day, a silver cross with green and white beading. As much as I tried to give it back, the more he told me that he wanted me to have it--a boy with so little giving me something so special made my heart break. He may not know to this day but I went around the building with tears in my eyes and splashed water on my face. Today, I have his necklace beside my bed to not only remember him and the boys but also to remember that we don’t need much to be happy—the largest thing I learned from the boys at ProNino.
Trips: Janary, 2011, June, 2011 and August 2011
When I first stepped onto ProNino's grounds, I wasn't sure what to expect. How would they respond to me? How could we bridge the very notable differences between our life experiences? And how do they survive without 100% deet sprayed on their limbs every second? As the first week of volunteering went by I became less and less conscious of the differences between the boys and me, and more conscious of the abilities that we all have to form deep and meaningful connections. These boys are hands-down the most loving, courageous, and generous people I have ever met. They have gone through hardship and adversity like I cannot imagine, and yet everyday they choose to love others, devote themselves to a brighter future, and continue learning and growing. Those at ProNino are resilient and passionate, full of energy and life. They are truly remarkable, and I feel beyond blessed to have had opportunities to learn from them.
Trips: March 2011, June 2011, March 2012
Words do not accurately describe the profound impact working with this organization has had on my life. Many of the children at Pronino come from heartbreaking backgrounds, far beyond what most can imagine. Despite this, they are so open to welcoming you into their world. In such a short time, they completely captured my heart with their genuine nature and mischievous smiles. They have the biggest hearts and are infinitely generous with every one around them. At our goodbye party, the boys were worried we would forget them when we returned to the United States. This sentiment is the farthest from the truth. They have a permanent place in my life. I feel so lucky to have met them, learned from them and to have spent time with the foundation.
Trips: January 2011
I went to El Progreso in the summer of 2011 with four other college students. Our team volunteered for six weeks, setting up an art program and teaching arts and crafts classes every day. I adored teaching the children, who were engaging and very eager to try new things. At the end of each day, my fellow volunteers and I would return to our house contentedly exhausted. I know that working with the boys affected each of our lives in a profound way. They were full of the simple joy of being alive, despite the unimaginable trauma many of them had endured. After about three weeks at ProNiño, I learned that a child I had been teaching art classes to had been physically abused when he was younger. With dismay, I slowly realized that each child had a similar background. Many had faced violence, sexual abuse, and drug use. Most of the kids living at the center looked younger than they actually were due to malnutrition and the effects of drug exposure. It never ceased to shock me when I learned that a boy I had been drawing or kicking a soccer ball with used to be addicted to drugs, or had endured domestic abuse. They were generally chatty, boisterous, “normal”-seeming children, but on the inside, they had been hurt deeply. Sharing our art skills with them seemed a small thing to offer kids who had been through so much, but it meant an incredible amount to the boys that we met. Giving a little bit of your time to the boys, whether it be through art, theater, sports, tutoring, or simply paying attention and engaging them in a thoughtful conversation, shows them that they are important and loved. You can see their affection for the volunteers and especially for the dedicated staff, who devotes their lives to the children’s future. Unlike those of us who grew up in economically and emotionally stable surroundings, many of the children at ProNiño have not had that experience. Making the kids feel a sense of self-worth and love is invaluable. I learned and grew a lot as a volunteer at ProNiño, which will forever have a place in my heart.
Trips: May-June 2011, January 2012
I made my initial journey to Honduras in June of 2014. I was in the country for a total of 4 weeks—two of which were spent with the children of ProNiño. I arrived at ProNiño expecting a two-week stay with a bunch of kids that had no interest in my presence, but I found the opposite waiting for me behind the gates of ProNiño. I found life change, and I found love that I didn’t know that I could have for another person.
During my time at ProNiño, I developed very strong relationships with many of the boys at the main campus. I’ve described my experience using the idea that I expected to have a certain amount of love for the children, but I did not expect to love the children directly. ProNiño may not have been the sole reason for my journey to Honduras, but ProNiño and the children of ProNiño will be what takes me back to Honduras.
Trips: June 2014
Without a doubt, my work with Proniño USA is my most influential service experience. It’s exciting and deeply rewarding to work with children, and my time in Honduras was no different. I worked as an educator, developing classes, lesson plans, and games to help supplement Proniño’s daily routine, and while I gained valuable teaching experience, I was no less a student of these wonderful kids. I developed meaningful relationships with these children, each of whom impacted my worldview irreversibly. Their individual stories broadened my awareness of economic injustice and challenged my perceptions of its roots and consequences. Reflecting back, I realize what I learned most about building these relationships: the importance of family.
Trips: June 2011, March 2012