Friday, March 28, 2008
Naseem and I have arrived safely in Roatan, Honduras. The island is beautiful, both exotic and familiar in its Westernization, spoiled with wealth and still riddled with poverty. When our plane flew in over the Carribbean, the first thing we noticed (aside from how different this beach looked than Galveston) was a giant cruise ship docked in front of a resort beach...just right down the beach were run-down homes with tin roofs and peeling paint. We hadn't even actually arrived in Roatan and already we were presented with a paradox that would manifest itself in various forms throughout the rest of the day. Honduras knows that Roatan is its money-maker, so the roads are smooth and well-paved, the beaches are clean, and there are a ton of tourist hot-spots lined up and down the coast and winding all the way into the dense green of the jungle. However, all it takes is a closer look, and the poverty and desparation of the island make themselves known.
The state of the island accurately reflects the condition of the kids at the orhpanage. At first glance, the kids seem to have everything they need accessible, and for the most part, at least materially speaking, they do. They all have ipods, the living room houses a flat-screen tv as well as two computers complete with video games, and a plethora of plastic toys inundate the house. Everything about the facility is high quality and it seems that the kids could not possibly want for anything. But you scratch beneath the surface, just barely, and you can see the kids are hurting immensely. While the place is nice, the orphanage has procured a lot of debt from most of the extravagant expenses of the previous director. Now there is barely enough money to feed the children here.
The kids have severe issues with abandonment and attachment, not just because they are orphans, but because every adult figure in their lives has eventually left. They have had little of stability for at least the last 7 years, and for some of them, their whole lives have been subject to tumultuous change. The last director was, to say the least, corrupt, abusing not only the finances but the children as well. It remains to be seen exactly what kind of physical abuse went on at the orphanage, but it is pretty evident that this abuse is manifesting itself in the kids through mistrust, sporadic outbursts, hurt, and anger.
But on a lighter note, so far the kids have been a joy to be around. Because Naseem and I are only staying for 2 months-ish, they want to be really careful about introducing us into the kids' lives. We didn't meet any kids yesterday, and today we've met --and played with--most of the younger boys. They're really sweet so far and full of energy. There are three older girls here, ages 18, 17, and 15, and so far Naseem and I are both a little intimidated by them. We haven't even officially met them yet but we've seen them around and I think it might take a little time for them to warm up to us. Apparently they've been some trouble lately, so we are hoping that maybe we can bond with them at least a little bit since they are pretty close to us in age.
I guess that's about it for now. Naseem and I are going to take turns with this...neither one of us has ever had a blog before, so we're pretty new to all these shenanigans, but hopefully y'all enjoy this. I'm going to try to post pictures later, but let's be honest, I'm not exactly computer saavy, so maybe I won't post pictures after all. Haha. Seriously, I should be able to do this. I have a college degree. Adios!