Marlon, a teen in Honduras who struggled with poverty, recently graduated from the OneChild program. Child Champions and his pastor’s son impacted his life in many ways, including helping him discover a special talent that he now uses to bless the Hope Center.
It was a hot morning in Barrio Alvarado, in La Ceiba, Honduras. Parents and guests were dressed up and taking pictures of the beautiful golden and black decorations inside the main auditorium of the church where the OneChild graduation would soon begin.
Child Champions were walking here and there making sure each graduate had his or her own cap and gown. The hostesses were making a final review of their words of introduction for the event.
As I surveyed the scene preparing to photograph the event, a familiar sound and face brought back a sudden flood of memories that filled me with surprise and joy. But more on that later.
My eye was also drawn to two parents sitting quietly with huge smiles on their faces. The father was wearing a white, neatly pressed polo shirt, and his wife was in a beautiful, patterned dress with her hair done in lovely braids. But what I found most beautiful about them were their proud parent smiles.
I knew I had to ask them for an interview. They blessed me by accepting.
The proud parents told me that their son, Marlon, was 6 years old when he was registered at the Huerto de Riego Hope Center. Marlon’s father, Elmer, said Marlon was a playful boy but he admitted, with a laugh, that his son was also a bit naughty. Never anything serious, just everyday mischief.
“Marlon is a nice boy,” said Elmer.
“And we pray to God that his heart stays as tender as it is today,” said Marlon’s mother, Ingrid.
They told me that Marlon has had difficulties, like any other boy of his age, but thanks to what he has been taught at the Hope Center, he has been able to make the right choices in life.
Elmer and his wife Ingrid also told me what a huge blessing it was that Marlon was part of this Hope Center. I’ve heard it before — and maybe you have, too — families talking about the difference that the Child Champions made in the lives of their family. But it’s always a joy to hear.
“These children come to the Hope Center, and then go back to their houses, and they share a nice word of encouragement with their families,” said Elmer. “They are not the only ones blessed by this program, but also the families of the children.
“Their Child Champions invest time and effort in them, they believe in them, and they support them,” he added. “But we as parents need to understand that is not only up to the Hope Center to see our children succeed. We as parents must also do our part and motivate them to come to the Hope Center. Child Champions cannot work by themselves. They need us also. Marlon is a sweet boy that had lots of help in this Hope Center.”
Someone Believes in Me
As I spoke with his parents, Marlon himself came over. I smiled broadly at him because he was the source of my surprise when I first arrived.
Marlon is shy, kind, and always willing to help. Talking with Marlon, I sensed a noble spirit. He was proud and eager to tell me about his experiences at the Hope Center.
“I’ve been part of this Hope Center since I can remember,” said Marlon.
“Or, if I can say it in other words, the Hope Center has been part of my life as long as I can remember. This Hope Center has helped our family a lot. During the pandemic my dad was laid off from his job, and they helped us with food, medicines, and anything we needed. The Child Champions even helped me with school.
“But what I am most grateful about is that they believed in me.”
Then I told Marlon why he surprised me when I arrived.
Through the years, each time I visited the Huerto de Riego Hope Center, there was a boy playing the piano.
I could tell he was just learning, but he never gave up. He practiced and practiced until he got the notes right.
Every time I came to the Hope Center, I took photos of the “piano boy.”
As I arrived at the graduation that day, I heard a piano. And as I walked in, I saw that it was the same “piano boy” I had seen every time I visited the Hope Center.
Oh! I felt my heart constrict when I heard him play. Have you ever experienced this feeling when you saw a child succeed?
I told Marlon how good his playing was, and he told me it hadn’t been easy. Then he shared with me how he learned to play.
“I have always loved music, and when I listened to the piano I thought, this is beautiful but so difficult,” he said. “Until one day the pastor’s son asked me if I wanted to learn how to play the piano, and I said, ‘Yes, but it seems difficult.’ He believed in me and taught me how to play the piano!”
Marlon continued his story with excitement.
“One day the pastor asked me, ‘Marlon you will minister to the congregation today through the piano?’
“And I got nervous. ‘Who, me?’ He said, ‘Yes you, Marlon.’
“I still remember that day. Oh, how many mistakes I made, and how bad it sounded! Then I relaxed and did better. After that, they told me that I should do it again, and again. And then I led worship at the Hope Center, and now I play the piano during the main service at church. Praise God for this!”
Everyone Has a Part in the Story
Later, as I reflected on Marlon’s story, I realized that this proud teen would never have had the opportunity to discover his passion for the piano if it hadn’t been for his time at the Hope Center.
And I realized that what the Child Champions provide to kids goes far beyond their basic needs.
Children who live in poverty in Honduras rarely have the opportunity to develop abilities such as music. Available assistance often focuses on basic needs such as food, a place to sleep, and clothing. And this is important because kids need these.
But they also have dreams and longings in their hearts, and it’s wonderful to see Child Champions (including you) nourishing those dreams. It’s that holistic care for the whole child that brings hope.
Some Child Champions do this by dedicating time, others by sharing their talents; some have the opportunity to teach, while others provide financial support enabling the program to reach the community.
The truth is, as Elmer reminded me, this work belongs not only to the Hope Center.
We all have our part in the story.
Pray for God to raise up more and more people in each community willing to share their gifts and knowledge with children.
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