A Change for the Better

By Josela López, Honduras Field Communications Specialist

A mom in Honduras who was abused as a child learns how to treat her own children with dignity, thanks to an intervention by a Child Champion at their Hope Center.

Rita with her sons Axel (in back) and Gabriel.

Rita is a 28-year-old mother of two boys, ages 13 and 8, who lives in poverty in Honduras. When Rita was a little girl, her mom verbally abused and often hit her. She wasn’t allowed to play, but instead always worked to help her mom at home. While Rita’s mom went to work all day, Rita was left alone with her stepdad, who also abused her.

When she was 16, Rita ran away to the capital city of Tegucigalpa, which was 10 hours from her home. In Tegucigalpa, she met the man who would become the father of her children, and they lived together for several years. But five years ago, he left them and now only visits once every three months to leave some money for his kids.

Rita is a hardworking woman. She planted fruit trees and vegetables in her garden, including avocadoes, passion fruit, mangos, tangerines, nance (a tropical fruit), and squash. She also has chickens and ducks. The family gets most of their meals from the garden. When available, they also eat red beans, eggs, and tortillas, and they eat chicken about twice a month.

Axel shows off a chick from their flock of chickens.

Rita sells flour tortillas every day to sustain her family. She makes the equivalent of $10 a day on a very good day.

She was able to register her sons, Axel and Gabriel, into OneChild’s Hope Center in their community.

But because Rita had only known abuse as a child, she regularly abused her sons, thinking that was normal. Meanwhile, since her boys started going to the Hope Center, the Child Champions told them during class time that they should respect others and also be treated with respect. The two boys started coming home knowing they were not respected by their mother.

One day, Pastor Arnaldo from the Hope Center decided to talk to Rita to ask her why she treated her children the way she did. She explained that it was normal to her, that that is the way kids must be treated. After further discussion, Rita came to realize that the way she was treating her sons was not normal – it was hurtful and disrespectful.

Gabriel gets a drink of clean water at his Hope Center.

She began to cry and expressed that she felt guilty for her ignorance, and that she knows there are a lot of things in her life that haven’t healed yet. But now she also knows that her children don’t have to go through the same abuse that she went through as a child.

“I didn’t even know that I was mistreating my own children,” Rita says. “I thought that’s the way they needed to be treated. That’s how my mom treated me, and the way my aunts treated my cousins. It was normal for me.”

Pastor Arnaldo started following up with the family, and now Rita acknowledges that she knows that she is not perfect, but she will try her best to treat her sons with dignity.

She loves her boys so much and says she would do anything for them.

“I’m a lioness when it comes to my kids. I do protect them,” Rita says.

And since Pastor Arnaldo intervened on behalf of Axel and Gabriel, their lives have gotten better, and they see hope for a better future.

“We love going to our Hope Center, and we love it more since our mom started treating us better because our pastor talked to her,” says Axel. Their favorite part of going to the Hope Center is the food, how well they are treated, and all the fun they have.

Hope Centers do impact the lives of children in Honduras and their families. For many, coming to a Hope Center changes their vision of life in a positive way. At a Hope Center, children are loved, appreciated, and valued. They are taught and cared for and shown that they are unique and valued by God. OneChild is not only impacting the lives of kids, but the lives of entire families, like Rita’s, as well.

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