The Diocese and St. George’s participation in Honduras goes back to at least 1986. In the summer of 1986 Region One which St. George’s is a part, sponsored 2 teenagers to work with the Episcopal Church in Honduras. Norma and Alan Batchelor from St. George’s taught fourth grade math in Spanish and sixth grade English at Holy Trinity Episcopal School in La Ceiba on the northern coast. 28 students in kindergarten through 6th grade crowded into the school
On Jan. 25, 1988, Our Little Roses Ministries (OLR) was founded in San Pedro Sula as an NGO in Honduras. In Feb., 1988, Avis Harris submitted a report to the Vestry from the Christian Education Commission that the “missionary offering” during Lent would go to the Episcopal Orphanage for Girls in Honduras. In April 1988, Our Little Roses Ministries officially dedicated a three-bedroom rented home on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula and opened its doors to one girl. By the end of that year 23 girls called Our Little Roses “home.”
Support began that time and apparently there were pledges and other support. In 1992 it was reported that parishioner contributions were brought to the church and included Spanish books, clothing and toiletries and individual checks. They mentioned a new building which allowed for 50 girls. The Bishop of Honduras visited St. George’s. Sponsorship was $60 a month. In 1993 a yard sale in the summer helped support OLR
There were also pledges of support from parishioners. In 1993, the Vestry was supporting one child at $48 but decided to cut that in the financial crisis of that year. However by 1995, the church was again supporting Little Roses in the Budget of $1,000
Beginning in 2003, the church started visiting Little Roses. In 2006, the newsletter wrote “The home raises and educates abused and abandoned girls in the city of San Pedro Sula. They range in age from toddlers to graduate students. The goal of OLR is to change the lives of these girls by empowering them with knowledge and self-confidence.” Trips were yearly from 2004 through 2008
In 2004, they took 9 people with $11,800 total cost
In 2007, they took 15 youth and 8 adults. The actual expense of the mission $29,381.
In 2008 there were 13 participants with an expense of $20,524.
An informational article described their work – “As a mission team, we work on building the girls’ self- esteem and English language skills. This is accomplished by playing games and sports with them and doing arts and crafts. We also do small work projects and some painting to improve their home. As funding allows, we have made special donations for uniforms, bedding, pizza parties and haircuts. We always take school supplies and new clothing, especially underwear and hoes, to help fill the needs of 70 growing girls.”
In 2009, the program had to be cancelled due to unrest in the government.
In 2010, there were 10 participants with an expense of $18,340.
In 2011, there were 18, the largest since 2007 with an expense of $22,982.
One reaction – “Returning there is like attending a family reunion for us, as we have watched the girls growing up over the years, right alongside our own youth. This year was wonderful, as we jumped rope, cooked, played soccer, did yoga, painted, made art projects, and enjoyed one another’s company. This is truly a mission of the heart, and is not a product oriented trip, but relationship centered. We help to nurture hope, love, and self concept in these young ladies, and they work their magic on us in double measure. “
Another – “Watching children grow up together is one of the great blessings of being part of a family. That’s precisely what has happened over the past nine years for the girls of Our Little Roses in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and for the youth of St. George’s.
“The visit this summer to Little Roses by 18 adults and young people from St. George’s was like a family reunion. Friendships were renewed or made during days filled with jumping rope, cooking, playing soccer, doing yoga, painting and just enjoying one another’s company.”
The last trip undertaken was in 2015 with 7 people which was delayed from 2013. The focus on the Haiti program after its earthquake in 2010, the political unrest in the country, and “retirement” of older leadership have contributed to a decline of participation.
St. George’s support has been financial from the beginning and the main link since the last trip in 2013. We supported OLR with yearly gifts $2000 in 2000 which increased to $3,000 yearly from 2001-2004, $3,300 yearly 2005-2007. Gifts were suspended in the unrest years of 2008-2009 Total donations were $3,000 a year from 2010 to 2014 and through 2015 and 2016, $1,500 yearly.
Our Little Roses have achieved successes but the need is still there. In 2011, there were an estimated 200,000 orphaned children in Honduras, according to government statistics. Honduras, a Central America about the size of Tennessee, has a total population of about 8 million, close to 50 percent under the age of 18. In 2011 OLR covered 2.5 acres in Colonial Villa Florencia, five minutes from the central city, and includes Holy Family Bilingual School, serving the surrounding community; a residential home, where currently 56 girls, toddlers to teens, live together with their tias; and an off-site transition home for girls who have left the residential home and who are working and/or studying at a university.