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A Life without Dreams

A Life without Dreams

By Ashley Guest, Missionary in Honduras

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself unaware of things happening in other places. I go about my daily routine of finding good stories at work, taking care of my family and marriage, and making sure all the chores are done. Sometimes, I forget this is a luxury. When I stumbled upon a story that Ashley shared about gangs from National Geographic, I was surprised. I had no idea that gang violence is so bad in Honduras. I asked Ashley to expand upon this situation from her experiences. Below is what she shared.

“I want to be a police officer when I grow up!” My 5-year-old tells me this regularly, and many other kids around his age feel the same way. They do not realize that this kind of thinking is a privilege that not all children have.

For kids growing up on the streets of Honduras or in dangerous communities, their thoughts are tied up in survival. Where will our next meal come from? How will we have enough money to pay for a room to sleep in for the night? What will happen to me if I dare to close my eyes and try to rest? What if I don’t have the money the gangs are demanding? Thoughts of the future are a luxury they do not have. The future is by no means certain, but their hunger and need for safety are very real.

The first night a child spends in a safe home after living on the streets is the first time they are able to even consider their future. When you can count on your needs being met, you can begin to dream. Until then, you can’t even sleep. Many grow up in areas so controlled by gangs that there is no escape. Gangs demand “protection money,” and if you try to leave, they stop you by any means necessary. These gangs promise protection, which is appealing for children in vulnerable situations. They feel that someone is finally supporting them, so in return, they do what they can for the cause. This, of course, puts them in the path of more risk as they are often required to sell drugs, automatically giving them new enemies in rival gangs.

For girls, it often means prostitution, which can lead to STDs, assault, and pregnancy. The promise of safety is an illusion, but even if they realize this, it is nearly impossible to do anything about it. Police officers offer little or no help, abusing the children themselves, kicking them out of public spaces, or offering to take them to a “safe” place that ends up just being jail.

So, what can be done? I believe a safe, loving home and education are two of the most important components of combating this issue. If these kids can be moved into safer areas that are not so controlled by gangs, real change is possible. These children have almost never had the chance to go to school. School requires uniforms, books, and supplies—all at the family’s (or the child’s, if there is no family) expense. They can try to earn money to pay for schooling or they can try to earn money so they can eat and afford a place to sleep. They really have no choice but to try to survive. By providing safety, love, and an education for a child, we can really take away the need to only focus on survival. They can truly begin to dream and think about a future they otherwise could have never imagined. It’s not easy by any means, but making a difference rarely is.

ACT: There are many projects in Honduras that you can support that may help counteract a lot of this gang culture and give hope and AN education to those in need. Visit this link to do your part to be a vital voice for Christ and a reflection of His love in Honduras.

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