Imagine stepping into school for the first time. Based on your age, you are immediately thrown into the second grade, but you do not know how to hold a pencil, write your name or count to ten. That is what is it is like for the children in Honduras. They have missed out on two complete years of their education and teachers are trying to push their kids to the limit to get them caught up. However, for some of the kids, they are even farther behind.
At the village school where I teach English, I noticed that one of my students was not at the same level as his peers. Cristian has trouble participating, is easily distracted and cannot communicate well. His teacher informed me that he is deaf. But I noticed that he responds when I call his name. There had to be more to the story.
After being in school for two months, I pulled his teacher aside and asked if he was making any progress. She told me he had not. That's when I told her that I might know someone who could help. She was super excited at the possibility.
A few Facebook messages later, I had arranged for another missionary that is working in our area to come in and evaluate my struggling student. Alicia Looney lives nearby and has established a school for special needs students. She is an expert and working with students like Cristian and equipping teachers and parents to empower their children. She readily agreed to come to the school to evaluate Cristian and provide support.
Alicia discovered that Cristian grew up in a home where his mother was deaf and mute. That means that for most of his life, he has never heard any oral communication. She was able to determine that many of his issues are learned behavior. He has learned some bad habits that get him attention in the classroom. For him to be successful in school, he will need to work hard and break those bad habits.
Cristian's story is a tough one, but not unique in Honduras. Now that we know, we'll be able to offer him, his family and his teacher support to help him progress.
And while she was visiting, Alicia was even able to evaluate a few other students identified by their teachers that were also struggling. Keyli is a fifth-grade student that has been involved in our Club Aslan after-school program. Her teacher was concerned about her, but Alicia and I were able to determine that Keyli just needs glasses. Now we'll be able to work together to find a medical brigade who will be able to help the family address her vision issues.
As it turns out, Keyli is struggling in school because she has some vision issues. Now we'll be able to work together to help her family get the glasses she needs to succeed.
Another student in the first grade was also evaluated and while he does have some issues to overcome, he was able to associate objects with their colors. Guess what comic book character he associates with the color green? Check out this adorable video to find out!
Although he struggles to communicate, this first grade student clearly knows his colors!
I learned long ago in the corporate world that it is not what you know, but who you know that matters. Networking on the mission field is just as crucial as anywhere else and knowing who to contact to help someone with their problems is a incredible gift to have. We are blessed to have built a network that allows us to provide holistic support to the young people to whom we minister.
Meeting the Need
We've been working with this rural school for several years. Now, partnering with TeachMe2Love and others, we'd like to provide some basic teaching essentials. Many times teachers go without paper, crayons and glue. And that's not even mentioning teaching materials and aids for special needs students like Cristian! If you'd like to partner with us to provide these needs, click here to make a tax-deductible gift!
John and Alicia Looney founded TeachMe2Love to work with special needs children, who are often ostracized from Honduran society. To learn more about their work in Honduras, follow them on Facebook here. Or to make a financial contribution to their ministry, click here!