I think we can all agree that 2016 was a trying year. But because of you - our generous supporters around the world - we are stronger and better prepared for the challenges the future will surely bring. This has been a year of grounding, of digging our feet down deep and figuring out who we really are.
This year has brought accidents, health emergencies, and family struggles - just to name a few challenges. But it has also brought new staff, stronger programs, new children and families, and greater focus on our mission. We are committed more than ever to preventing child abandonment, and every day we fight for the rights of women and children in Honduras so that families don't need to be separated.
Now, more than ever, we need to listen to our children. Especially those across borders and language barriers that are often painted with a broad and ignorant brush. If we listen, we'll learn that so many of us want the same thing - independence, stability, peace. The world grows more connected every day and we need to prepare the next generation so that they can be smarter, healthier, braver, and more open-minded than ever before. Let's leave the door open and a light on.
Every day, I try to listen harder. That means listening to the voices of the children and mothers of Casita Copan, and also your voices, the supporters and friends around the world who believe in our mission. I hope to continue listening and be challenged in 2017. Will you join me?
For the children living in our "Casitas", or family-style homes, this has been a year of safety and stability. After years living in dangerous home situations or inadequate and underfunded institutions, thirteen boys and girls have found a home at Casita Copán.
This was the first full year of our "Casitas" program, and we watched the children develop deep bonds with their caregivers and settle into a regular family routine. The children who live in our Casitas deal with a range of health, developmental, and emotional difficulties, but now they have access to the services they need. With your support, we can continue to meet these needs and prepare each child for a bright future.
We approach health at its roots - ensuring that children receive proper nutrition, clean water, vitamins, and regular parasite treatment. Then, we make sure that children have access to pediatric care, dental hygiene, first-aid, and emergency care when needed. For children with special needs or chronic conditions, we guarantee prompt doctors visits and prescription medications. Health is not just physical, so we focus on a social-emotional learning curriculum and connect children with psychologists when needed.
This year, we went even deeper. Thanks to a generous project by Morningstar Missions, we now have a working aquaponic garden, tilapia farm, and chicken coop. For the first time ever, we harvested corn, beans, cucumbers, mint, greens, and we now produce all the eggs we need right in our very own backyard!
“When I was little, I thought I would never make it to high school. I did not think that it was something that my mother would be able to give to me.” Doris was one of the first young ladies selected to participate in our pilot Youth Apprentice, or Practicante program.
Through our newest program, youth earn a scholarship to high school while gaining valuable job skills. Youth perform administrative tasks, serve as teacher's assistants, and learn agricultural and maintenance skills, all while developing responsibility, leadership, and teamwork abilities. As Doris tells us, “If I could continue on studying after high school, I would like to be able to work somewhere like an office. A bank, probably." We will be there all along the way to make sure that Doris - and other boys and girls like her - can make their dreams come true.
Nearly every day, women ring Casita's doorbell to ask if they can enroll their children in our daycare program. So many women are on their own, trying to be both mother and father to their children while earning barely enough to pay the rent.
Aura didn't give up. She came to Casita Copán every week for three months, patiently asking if a space had opened up. And one day last year, the moment came. There's nothing quite like the feeling of being able to call a new mom and let her know that a space has opened up. We just wish it could be more often - and hopefully one day it will! We are so thrilled to welcome Aura and David to our Casita Copan family.
Thank you so much to our donors, sponsors, volunteers, staff, and social media cheerleaders who believe in our mission to prevent child abandonment. With such a team of dedicated supporters by our side, we can continue to face the future with courage, commitment, and of course, style.