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Caring for Kids in the Community
by Ronne Rock
Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Marcela and her friends run, laughing, down the rutted dirt road and through the gate to the small brightly colored house and the smiling women who welcome them with open arms. Inside, the fragrance of a warm meal fills the room as the children gather to learn a lesson from the Gospel of John. For the third grade girls, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons are a welcomed treat.

nico kids

Though school is free and required as part of Honduras’ “No Child Left Behind” initiative, less than half of all children who start school will even complete primary grades, and less than 10% of all students will complete their education and continue on to university. Those who are in school may not receive a quality education due to a lack of teachers and classrooms. The illiteracy rate is as high as 80% in some rural areas.

Ena Quiggle has lived in La Paz, Honduras, for years, and the caring for the poor in her community has been a way of life. “God has always placed it on my heart to help people in need.” Even when her own children were young, Ena and her family would often visit remote villages and provide care for those who were struggling. Once her children completed their education, Ena felt compelled to do even more. She wanted to help the children in her community who didn’t have that same opportunity.

“I thought about an after-school program, but I didn’t know how to start it,” she shares. “I didn’t know what to do – but I had it in my heart that I wanted to just get a bunch of kids from the street and reach them and get to know them.”

After a year of planning and praying, Ena met Esmerelda Lara at her church, and the two found a common passion for helping children. With encouragement from family and friends, NiCo – Niños in Community – was born. “We found a house that had been abandoned. We didn’t have any chairs, we didn’t have any tables, so we sat on straw mats - that’s how we started. We went to the school in the area, one of the poorest areas in La Paz, talked to the director, and asked them to give us two or three kids from grades 1-3.”

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The two women knew they would need help to provide personal care for the 25 students who were identified as good candidates for the program. They shared their story with others, and soon eight volunteers had joined NiCo to help with tutoring, meals, and more.

The help was greatly appreciated as the team quickly learned of the true challenges they were facing. “It was shocking for me to see that kids in third grade, they were at a pre-school level. They didn’t even know their ABCs, they didn’t even know their numbers, they didn’t even know how to write their names.”

nico classes

NiCo is open two days a week for the children who attend. Ena says, “We go Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon from 2 to 4. We decided to do it on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because on Mondays we can always go to the school to remind the kids. We start first with – well, the main thing is for the kids to get the word of God, to learn some verses, that’s the main thing. So the first is that – we teach the kids a bible study. We also teach them hygiene – washing hands and brushing teeth, and then we have about 45 minutes of tutoring. And then at the end, we give them a snack – a meal.”

For many of the students, the meal has been a literal lifesaver. Extreme poverty means many families eat one meal a day – or less. “Many times, they would ask at the beginning when we started NiCo, they would ask at the beginning of the class, ‘Are you going to give us something again?’ But even if they came for just the meal, that was good enough for me, because then they would receive the word of God, they would get some help with the schooling, and then get their meal.”

tippy tap

Simple things make a huge difference in the lives of the children attending NiCo. Four children have had difficulty rolling their “R”s – an essential part of the Spanish language. But a volunteer worked with the children, and Ena is overjoyed by the results. “They now can roll their ‘R’s, and it’s great because they get teased at school, you know. The love that the volunteers give to the kids, the care that we all put into it for the kids, I think it has made a big difference in them.”

She laughs softly when she thinks about the past five years of her life. “It has been fun. God hasn’t let me quit, you know? Many times I’ve felt, ‘Oh Lord, what’s gonna happen if I’m gone?’” Ena and Esmerelda have managed every aspect of NiCo, from snacks and supplies to schedules. Ena often prepares meals in her own home to ensure the children have something nutritious to eat.

In 2015, Orphan Outreach joined hands with Ena and Esmerelda as a ministry partner. Ena says, “That was an answer to my prayers, because NiCo is a place of refuge for those kids that don’t have a place to do homework or somebody who can help them with homework and someone who can give them a hug. They don’t have those things at home, so NiCo is that - it’s like their extra home. And I’m so thankful; honestly, I’m so thankful that God brought Orphan Outreach because now I can see that this will continue.”

When Ena thinks about the future of NiCo, she envisions more. “We only see the kids twice a week, and we would like to see them every day – at least four days. We also would like to have and help those kids who go to school in the afternoon and are free in the mornings. The kids who are in fourth grade, they don’t come to NiCo anymore because they go to school in the afternoons, so it would be nice to open up NiCo in the mornings, too.”

Her dreams turn to prayers as Ena shares something she believes will change the community even more. “I really would like you to pray for somebody that has a heart to work with the moms. I have been praying for that, and I think now is the time where God is going to send that person to help us, to disciple the moms.”

sofia ice cream

She grows quiet for a moment as she thinks about the children of NiCo – of Marcela and her friends always smiling and eager to learn. “Pray for the kids of Honduras – they are the future of this country and I think it’s our responsibility as Christians to come out of our four walls and go help our community,” she says softly. “In La Paz, this area is at that point that, if we Christians don’t get out there into these poor communities, soon those people from big cities will start coming and recruiting them for their gang members. So this is our time. We need help to expand NiCo. We need a bigger place where we can take care of more kids and we can teach them the word and we can help them, you know? Many of these kids live in a 3 X 3 or 4 X 3 wooden house, and they don’t have a place where they can go do homework, and if we have a place at NiCo where they can just go and do their homework and we can help them, then they can go home and be with their parents.”




Orphan Outreach has trips throughout the year to Honduras to work with Ena, Esmerelda, and the children at NiCO. Check out the missions section of our website for more details. And if your church wants a place to invest your time, talent, and treasure this year, contact Rey Diaz at rdiaz@orphanoutreach.org.

 

 


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