By Norris Burkes Oct 24, 2021
We’ve all watched the news stories of Honduran families making the treacherous journey across our southern border.
So today, I have only two questions.
First question: What makes them take such a risk?
Why do they trek thousands of miles through harsh weather, violence and rough terrain? Why do they risk arrest or even worse – rape, robbery, human trafficking or being separated from their children?
Public schools are overcrowded, underfunded, and poorly staffed. Children without the needed resources find school difficult and drop out.
That’s why my daughter, Sara, started Chispa Project, pronounced cheez-pah, meaning “spark” in Spanish. Hondurans use the word to describe people with spark or drive.
Chispa has a simple mission: Sponsor children’s libraries and equip them with quality books in Spanish by working side by side with Honduran community leaders and educators.
In the 60 schools where Chispa works, they build alliances with communities to design, fund and manage their own libraries. Community members also volunteer in the library project and raise a symbolic portion of the funding that ensures sustainability and ownership.
Chispa, like Hondurans, wants to see children educated and grow up so they can remain united with their families and have choices in their future. It wants to see Honduran children dreaming their own American-like dream.
Of the many Hondurans I’ve met, most don’t want to leave their homes. They don’t want our country. They don’t want our welfare dollars or our jobs. They want their country. They want their homes. They want a way to provide opportunities for their children.
Now the second question: Would you consider spending a week in Honduras with me and 25 other volunteers to start three new libraries?
Come fly with me. It’ll be fun, I promise. It’s only a three-hour flight from Houston and we remain on Central Time.
The day after we arrive, we begin decorating libraries that will make children proud of their school. We paint the walls with colorful murals, assemble bookshelves, and stock and catalog an entire library.
Imagine us working together, rolling two coats of white paint on crumbling walls. The paint provides a bright pallet for those murals intended to inspire future readers.
The children surround us, chattering the few English words they know. Their smiles go for hours and hours as they read the picture books we bring.
The days are sometimes hot and long, but not to worry. I reward my volunteers with ice-cream cones from a street vendor.
I know some of you are asking me a question right now: Is it dangerous?
That’s a risk you will have to assess on your own, but I can tell you that I have brought and safely returned several octogenarians in past years. I can also tell you that I’m comfortable with my daughter, Sara, her husband and her 1-year-old baby living in Honduras full time.
Now is the time to sign up for one of our two available volunteer trips. The first for May 15-22, 2022, and the second, June 19-26, 2022.
I know you have more questions, so check out our website at ChispaProject.org/volunteertrip. Read the details, fill out the forms, and watch the five minute video. Email me or Sara if you have your own questions.
And if you can’t fly with me, will you consider a donation to help us establish these libraries? Whoops. I guess I promised only two questions.
If you live in the Charleston area, come see Sara and me in person this week! Check out our schedule at Chispaproject.org/charleston
Donate at chispaproject.org/thechaplain or send check payable to “Chispa Project” 10556 Combie Rd. Suite 6643 Auburn, CA 95602. Read more columns at www.thechaplain.net