Guest Blog Post by Skye Travers
My name is Skye Travers and I am a political science student at the University of Georgia. I have volunteered at several organizations throughout my life; but the one I felt most pride in working with is named Casita Copán, located in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. I volunteered there in October of 2015.
I have grown attached to this organization because it has the first group of nonprofit employees who seem unaffected by burn-out. They are passionate and excited about their work with the people they serve. The staff is always coming up with new ideas to support the children as well as the community. They work relentlessly on fundraising, doing work most might find tedious. They are also completely transparent with their finances; their official website provides donors with both visual and written statistics of how the money is spent.
They offer great services to everyone in their programs. Currently, they provide tutoring services, mentorship, and medical support for the children, and are looking to run a cooking class program for the single mothers of the community, to give them a means to provide for their families by gaining a marketable skill.
The staff is also very dedicated to the health of the children of Casita. At least two times within the past month I have been informed that the Executive Director and Founder, Emily Monroe, had to take one of the children to seek medical help in San Pedro Sula, a city four hours from Copan, a town with no hospitals. The town has a clinic that can assist in small injuries and ailments, but when a child is suffering from something such as frequent seizures – as this child was -, they have to go to a major city. This medical assistance is extremely beneficial to the community as most single mothers are unable to take a day off of work, or provide transportation for their child to seek medical attention.
Emily is fully invested in the well being of the children and their mothers. She works tirelessly to ensure that the organization has a positive impact in the community. All the food is purchased locally from local vendors; the children study in public schools; and the mothers are involved in fundraising so as to not to create a culture of paternalism and dependence between the nonprofit and the beneficiaries.
The rest of the fundraising team at Casita is always looking for opportunities, which from what I have learned from other organizations can become dull and tedious. During my time there, I noticed the drive in their Director of Development, Karina Sibrián, to take a diverse fundraising approach,combining social media marketing with grant writing . At the time, their Director of Communication, Marissa Garcia, focused on a fundraising gala that took place in November. Every day, over a month prior to the event, she would spend hours designing and making decorations out of everyday objects to make the evening one that would be talked about around town for weeks.
These three women, in conjunction with the rest of the staff, have done a lot of great things for the organization; and what I believe is most inspiring about their work is how determined they are. They clearly care for the children using Casita’s services very much to a selfless extent. My giving to this organization involved doing volunteer work for nine hours a week, in which I would either assist Karina in researching grant opportunities, or make decorations for the fundraiser with Marissa.
Casita is an important organization within the community of Copan Ruinas, Honduras, for many reasons, one of which being that 65% of Honduras’s population live in poverty. The wages are ridiculously low, which is why Casita is so helpful to single mothers who know their children will be both fed and treated for medical illness. Another issue at hand in Honduras is that sexual abuse is rampant . Many of the mothers had their first child as a result of abuse. Once a young girl is exposed to such a situation, it becomes harder to provide for her baby and herself, given as the job market for a single mother with little to no education is both limited and does not come with a high pay grade.
More information on social issues affecting the women and children of Honduras can be found on Casita’s official website, but I have also found this information very true in practice. During my time volunteering with Casita I was given permission to work on a film project. The objective was to create a video journal of what a day is like as a single mother in Honduras and in doing so we, with permission, followed one of the young mothers and her three-year-old son with a video camera. The video, titled “An Aura of Hope” was released on YouTube and on Facebook on December 22nd, and it makes it very clear that the lifestyle of single mothers in Honduras is a extremely challenging.
Casita is a trustworthy, transparent, and dynamic nonprofit organization. I thoroughly enjoyed my work with there, and I would encourage anyone to give to their mission.