Changes at El Hogar 2022
By Eleanor Simons
In 1973 the Diocese of Central Florida decided to partner with Honduras when it was suggested by a missionary priest working there that rich countries should partner with poor countries. The Bishop decided the Thanksgiving collections from our churches in the diocese would be directed to Honduras. This changed in September of 1974 when hurricane Fifi struck Honduras. Clothing, food, tools, medicines, building supplies were were needed and our diocese sent them.
El Hogar was begun in 1979 when a few Episcopalians in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, bought a house and made a home for 5 boys living on the streets. The need grew over the years and with help from churches in the United States they bought land and built dorms and a cafeteria. When the boys grew older they bought a farm so the boys could learn to farm and support themselves and a family. Later they built a vocational school. In recent years they built a school for girls. They have grown and changed as needed with funding coming from churches in the United States.
Grace Church has been involved with Honduras since 1991 when the first team went to paint the Episcopal Conference Center. The next trips were to work at El Hogar (grades 1 - 6) or at the Farm painting, putting up ceilings, painting the church inside and outside, painting classrooms. In addition to working we played, sang, ate, talked, laughed, and worshiped with the boys.
I am very familiar with the dorms of El Hogar because I was on a team that painted the walls and the ceilings. A room the size of our Parish Hall was filled with bunk beds for the younger boys. The boys were no longer sleeping on the streets. They were clean, safe, educated, and cared for. What they missed was the concept of family and now the director and staff are working to make changes so the boys have more of a family experience. This year they are adapting the dorm spaces so that each dorm will become a separate home with a caregiver who will stay with the boys until they move on to the farm or the vocational school. There will be bedrooms for smaller groups of boys, a kitchen, living room, and an outside area for each home. The boys will be able to come home from school, have a snack, do their homework, and watch a movie together. Denise Vargas, Executive Director of El Hogar said, “We want to offer our children a home where they will experience connection, resilience, self-love, empowerment, and hope.” El Hogar Ministries is working on raising money and making these important changes. You can read more about it on their website elhogar.org. Grace Church is committed to staying connected and supporting El Hogar.