By Maryline O'Shea

The morning of the inauguration started with the benediction of the new Boystown, by Monsignor Juan José Pineda, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa, in front of a large assembly of about 500 people – including distinguished guests and benefactors, teachers, the new 250 students who just started school last January, and a group of girl students from our nearby Girlstown.

At first, it was shocking to realize these children who appeared to be 7 or 8 years old were at least 12 years old. Years of malnutrition had stunted their growth, and though they now eat 3 healthy meals a day under the care of the Sisters, they will never quite “catch up”.

It was however obvious to all that every one of the children was happy and proud to be given this opportunity! They smiled so big, and were eager to show off their language skills, beaming with “hello” and “how are you?” whenever they were given the chance.

After the mass, four of the boys conducted the flag ceremony, and then Sister Maria Cho gave a welcome speech to all. It was particularly moving to understand the profound impact that this program is having on the country. This message was later reinforced by the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernàndez.

The celebration was complete with music and dance performances from the students, and was followed by the official ribbon-cutting ceremony and inauguration of an honorary plaque – dedicated to the government of Honduras and the donor of the land, Mr. Henry Arévaldo – in the center of the campus.

It was such an honor to meet the President and First Lady.

Monsignor Pineda, Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Tegucigalpa; the First Lady of Honduras Mrs. Gladys Caballero de Arévalo; one of our new students; the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernàndez; and Sister Maria Cho.

The new facility is incredibly well-appointed – yet remains modest and practical, and the space is optimized just like in every one of our other Villages. The dormitories feature bunk beds and eating spaces immediately across from the classrooms and bathrooms. The gymnasium and sports fields have an important place at the Boystown, giving our students the opportunity to practice soccer, basketball, and many other activities.

The next day, we visited the Girlstown, and witnessed a few classes – English, computer, mathematics… Much like I did during my previous visits to Guatemala and Mexico, I saw children who were self-disciplined, eager to learn, polite, kind and funny.

We also enjoyed an entire afternoon of free play with the girls from the Girlstown – all 750 of them! – and I can assure you I’ve never seen so much laughter in one place!

Knowing the difficult situations these girls come from, it was hard to reconcile these laughs with the extreme poverty that plagues their families back at home.

I will share my testimony of a home visit in another Note from the Field to follow…