My wife and I have been supporters of Plan International since 1994 when we sponsored a young boy in Guatemala.
Plan International requires local families who are recipients of sponsorships to take an active role in community projects. Our Guatemalan family wasn’t active so Plan International dropped them from the program after our visit.
By then we had fallen in love with Honduras and so sponsored a two-year-old girl in San Vicente Centenario in the department of Santa Barbara, south of San Pedro Sula.
And so Plan International brought darling Ruth Elizabeth into our life
A year later we visited her and her family. Plan International drove us from our hotel in San Pedro Sula to San Vincente Centenario. The family’s house was a simple adobe structure.
It was so exciting to meet them in person. Emotions ran high among us all, with many hugs, kisses, and happy tears. We fell in love with the entire family.
Ruth was three at the time and although shy, loved my wife’s blonde hair. Riding to a local restaurant for lunch, she sat behind us and kept stroking her hair. It was a magical experience for us. We were so glad we connected with this wonderful family.
We returned many times over the following years, impressed with the improvements Plan International were making in the community. San Vincente received an improved water supply, sanitation and access to schooling and school supplies.
Ruth was attending school, and we encouraged her to complete her education. Her dream was to become a teacher.
It was wonderful one year to see the family’s house had added a kitchen, a tile roof, and cement floors. They were so excited to cook us lunch instead of us taking them out to eat.
On our third visit, we were in for a surprise
They had arranged a celebration in our honor, with many Plan International families in attendance.
There were speeches by the Mayor of San Vicente, Ruth’s dad, and Ruth herself. Then it was my (unprepared) turn to give our thanks for being part of their lives. Later there was a meal and refreshments, followed by folk dancing and an open dance for everyone.
At the tender age of 16, Ruth became pregnant and had a baby girl.
She was in a relationship with a young man who assumed all the responsibilities of fatherhood. A short while later, since Ruth would soon turn 18, her involvement with Plan International would come to an end.
After talking it over with the office in Canada, they agreed to let us continue with the family, by sponsoring her lovely daughter Ana.
Over the years there have been many more changes in San Vicente
The town now boasts a beautiful plaza with a senior’s center where every day they provide free lunches to the elderly. Most roads are now paved, and all houses have proper roofs, good floors, electricity, and water.
It’s been such a heartwarming experience for us to see all these changes and to know this wonderful family.
There has been sadness too when Ruth lost her husband in a car accident. But with the support of her family, Ruth and her daughters could overcome this, and our relationship with them continues to grow and develop.
We’ve taken some of our own family in Canada to meet them and the bonding was immediate.
It was thrilling for us to see our Canadian and Honduran children relating to one another with a common love for one another.
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Paul McCurdy is a part-time resident of Trujillo, Honduras since 1996. He and his wife Charlene delight in sharing their experiences of Honduras on their Hola Honduras blog and on their Facebook page.