By James E. Copple
When the world seems big and the problems seem bigger, look to the people like Karen and Inez in Honduras, who remind us that the bridge to hope is a promise built locally on the premise of one and the commitment of individuals to make personal, meaningful connections to people, one soul, one child, one family, one community at a time.
It isn’t a sweeping answer to a global brokenness but a compassionate, informed encircling of the fragmented and an eye for change that doesn’t just stem the bleeding but heals the whole. Band-aids only cover a wound, offering time and protection until the body can mend. But without the tools, defenses and resilience of a healthy immune system, the wound only festers beneath a temporary fix.
I just returned from Honduras and two of the most violent areas of the world. San Pedro Sula has a murder rate of 170 for every 100,000 people. Compare that to the United States, where the murder rate is less than five for every 100,000 people. In Copan Ruinas, we ate at the same restaurant as a local law-enforcement drug task-force. They were heavily armed, and many of them were wearing masks. Four officers were stationed outside, setting up a security perimeter. Drugs, guns and human-trafficking dominate the region. Cartels and gangs control much of the local economy.
I was overwhelmed by the scale of the problem but encouraged by the commitment, passion and even humor of two employees from Children International. Inez and Karen are about to open a new center that will serve 7,000 children. The CI approach is to build service-delivery around a center that provides medical exams, job training, education and programs in self-reliance for sponsored children.
Karen and Inez were optimistic and saw their interventions as life-changing for these children. They train parent volunteers; mobilize businesses; and collaborate with local schools to build skills, support and hope in communities facing some of the worst poverty in the Western hemisphere.
When I reflect on global, national and local events, from Ferguson, Mo., to minors migrating at our borders, it feels like a fragmented and broken time. Led by today’s headlines, we bounce from one crisis to the next. It feels like a wound that never heals.
The events seem to hang in suspension waiting for someone or something to come along and say it is now OK, that we can mark this crisis as resolved; place it in today’s outbox. It’s a vision that begs for specific action, and it seems more difficult with each crisis.
Yet, as global as these events feel, they are always addressed locally.
As with Karen and Inez and Children International, these initiatives pull children into a future that brings healing for themselves, their families and their communities. The center is a bridge spanning the two worlds of desperation and hope, where the goal, as Karen said, “is to make it a one-way bridge.”
Karen and Inez work with a staff of volunteers whose contribution to 7,000 children is overlooked by the media and foreign-policy watchdogs. Every day, they show up for these 7,000 and their communities. Every day, they facilitate delivery of services that become personal and ultimately shape fragmented brokenness into a cohesive and collective voice of promise. If there is a victor to be found in the war for the minds of the children of Honduras, I am betting on Karen and Inez.
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