The First Girl (Part Three)

GisselaThe time between my “light bulb moment” and my next visit to Honduras was longer than I wanted.  However, I had a chance to really think over the opportunity that was in front of me, and wanted to learn all I could.  I also reflected on what I had seen there on the ground.

As I reflected, I realized something.  Almost every family I encountered consisted of a woman with multiple children… and no father. Why? Was there something in the culture causing this absence? It all seemed to come back to opportunity—or lack thereof.

You see, in many Latin American countries hope is missing. Most families get by on around $1 a day.  If they eat only the staples (rice, beans, sugar, corn meal and coffee), $1 is barely enough to scrape by.  Without an education, there are no real jobs available.  Without a job, it is very hard to get by.

So young girls like Gissela end up quitting school to try and help their families. Before too long, an opportunity for money and food presents itself in the form of a wage earning man, and the girls see a glimmer of hope.

Without an education—and even a basic understanding of health education—children quickly follow the new union.  The man then finds himself unable to cope with the additional financial burdens. So, he leaves. They leave, and the young girls (now with children of their own) are left to eke out an existence. Thus the generation-to-generation cycle of poverty continues.

This cycle had to stop somewhere. Why not in this village in Honduras? Let’s educate more girls and give them an opportunity to make a better life for themselves, then the cycle will end. Right?

“Your idea is OK,” said my Honduran minister friend, “but it won’t work. You see, we must make the boys go to school. They can make more money.”

“No,” I replied, “we’re going to educate the girls. It will change things here!”

He was understandably skeptical, but I was persistent.

“OK, I will help you if this is what you want.”

I could see he wasn’t buying it… yet.