Construction of the new Boystown in Amarateca, Honduras, is nearing completion after 16 months of hard work. The campus includes a 4-story building accommodating classrooms and living spaces, three workshop buildings dedicated to vocational training, a gymnasium, a soccer field and basketball courts, and track and field facilities.
Between July and September of last year, the Sisters of Mary were busy selecting the children who would be accepted into the program. As many as 240 first-year students will have begun their classes with us by the time you receive this newsletter.
Just like in the rest of our schools, the Sisters ensure that our quality education is offered to those families who need it the most. They have traveled extensively to find eligible children, working in collaboration with parishes throughout Honduras. At that time, interested children could apply by taking an admissions test, which verifies the student meets elementary schooling requirements, in particular language, math, science, and geography.
An interview with the child's parents or relative will further qualify the need and the Sisters can ensure his family situation is truly dire before accepting him. Admitted children follow our in-house middle school classes, then our high school program.
At full capacity, our new Boystown will provide education - along with free food, shelter, and care - to 700 boys.
The official inauguration is scheduled at the end of April. Look for the next edition of this newsletter for our photos and detailed report!
Construction of new Boystown in Amarateca.
New students begin their studies at our Boystown.
An incredibly busy year has started for the Sisters of Mary!
Every day we, the Sisters, care with great love for more than 20,000 children in the Philippines, South Korea, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, and Honduras.
And now, thanks to your support, we have been able to expand our existing Boystown in Guatemala City. This means we are welcoming this year an additional 250 new students - boys born in some of the poorest families in the country, who will get the chance to see their lives transformed.
One of the most significant accomplishments of 2017 is the building of our new Boystown in Amarateca, Honduras. As you're reading these words, we are welcoming our first students there.
I remember fondly the inauguration of our Honduras Girlstown in 2012, in Tegucigalpa. A new school is always a tremendous milestone worth celebrating. It is with great joy and anticipation that we are looking forward to the official inauguration of the new Boystown at the end of April.
At that occasion, we will also honor and pray for our loyal supporters - because you make our mission possible. And your kindness truly saves lives.
2017 marks another milestone: the Sisters of Mary, our many graduates, and students continue to honor the memory of our dear founder, Father Aloysius Schwartz, who passed 25 years ago. Declared venerable in 2015, Father Al's journey to Sainthood continues.
None of our life-changing work is possible without you! Our children are counting on your renewed friendship and support.
Thank you so very much, and May God Bless You,
Girlstown Inauguration in Tegucigalapa (2012)
From left to right: Sister Elena, Sister Marchela, Sister Zeny, and Mr. Bill Doty - a long-time supporter of World Villages for Children - pose next to Sister Michaela.
THANK YOU for giving each and every one of our children the change to celebrate a wonderful Christmas!
Throughout all of our programs - in the Philippines, South Korea, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, and Honduras - the Sisters of Mary held special celebrations for Christmas, with each of our students receving a gift package with three items: a new article of clothing; a fun activitiy, like a book or art supplies; and something to eat, such as fruit or chocolate.
Most of the children were so overwhelmed with emotions, they couldn't hold back tears of joy and shrieks of delight at the receipt of their personalized gift bag. Each bag was carrying a gift tag signed by one of our generous donors - the ones you sent back to our office last fall - so that our students would know of your care and concern for them.
Last October during a visit to Guadalajara, Sister Margarita, the Local Superior of our Boystown there, had arranged for us to see the typical living conditions of some of the boys who attend our school.
Walter, an 11-year-old student who was nearing the end of his first year, as well as three other boys, joined us on a short visit to their homes, about 40 miles away.
Words can hardly describe the state of blatant poverty in the small village of San Pedro Itzicán, on the north shore of Lake Chapala. The dire economic situation of this community - and our students' families in particular - was all too clear.
Walter's parents live from fishing, with very uncertain income from one day to the next. They struggle to support their three younger children. Their home consists of only two rooms in a building that otherwise appears abandoned, with lots of rubble and free-roaming animals; some chickens, cats and dogs, and a turkey. Only one of the rooms had four walls - the family's bedroom where they were fortunate enough to share mattresses at night - many of our children are used to sleeping on cardboard before they come to us. The lack of a bathroom portrayed the absence of adequate sanitation. The nearly bare kitchen corner reminded us that there wasn't much food to cook to start with.
Walter's mother, Alicia, is aware of the sacrifice she is making - she misses her son every day while he is at school learning the skills and values he needs to break free from poverty. Walter studies hard to find a good job upon graduation and be able to support his family.
During the same trip, we also met a few of the graduates who were fortunate to count on your support and graduated from our programs. We interviewed a 2004 graduate from our Girlstown; Alejandra is head of finance and accounting for a small business, a hardware company.
Alejandra expressed how grateful she is for the education she received with the Sisters. When asked about the life she would have today without this opportunity, Alejandra answered without hesitation: "I'd probably be married, living with many children in a poor, sad house. I wouldn't be working".
That same day, we met with Humberto, a 2011 graduate frmo Tabasco. He founded a small IT firm based in Guadalajara in 2011. Though he first wanted to be an architect, Humberto chose a field with more opportunities.
Reflecting on his achievements, he tells us he was able to bring stability to his family and eight siblings. He also helped his youngest brother start his own business - because he knew teaching him would help his brother much more than simply giving him money.
Humberto's firm now employs 5 other graduates from our Boystown in Guadalajara and our Girlstown in Chalco - the best workers he could find, in his own words!
One of his employees, Fernando, is a fellow 2011 graduate who has been working in sales for two years. Fernando said he worked hard for the first 5 years after graduation to support his family. Now he is married and has a 10-year-old daughter. He prides himself on instilling in her the same values he learned from the Sisters. She attends public school and he can afford everything she needs.
Top: Walter and his classmates at our Boystown.
Left: Walter and his family in their bedroom.
Center: Sister Teresa, Alejandra, and Sister Margarita.
Right: Humberto (far right) poses next to Fernando, the rest of his staff, Sister Teresa, and Sister Margarita.
Last December, I had the honor of attending a special inauguration event in Guatemala. The new Building IV is the latest addition to our existing campus for boys in Guatemala City, Zona 6. The campus already provides middle school and high school education to 850 boys - as well as vocational training essential for our students to secure employment upon graduation. The expansion means we will be able to welcome 250 more students this year!
The event included a special mass, for which our students joined us inside the gymnasium, just before the formal greeting and ribbon cutting ceremony.
Sister Marchela, Local Superior at the Boystown, extended a message of thanks and welcome to the distinguished guests, including Monsignor Nicolas Thevenin, Apostolic Nuncio in Guatemala; Guatemala City mayor, Mr. Alvaro Arzu; and Mr. Tim Schwartz, board member and nephew of our late founder Aloysius Schwartz.
The architect of the project, Mauricio Solis, further explained his vision for this renewed collaboration. Indeed, Mr. Solis is a long-time partner of the Sisters of Mary; he has provided his services on many other projects prior to this new building IV - which was designed and completed in a record 11 months!
Finally, a tour and benediction of the building ensued, and we all gathered for the conclusion of the celebrations: a demonstration from the boys' marching band, and a music and dance festival featuring our very own students - not only from our Boystown, but also from our nearby kindergarten and Girlstown.
The new Building IV in our Boystown.
The official ribbon cutting ceremony.
Above: Students from our Girlstown perform at the inauguration in Guatemala.
As we start thinking about where our assets will go when we leave our world behind, it makes sense that we provide for our loved ones. But as you go about planning your estate, remember the charitable causes to which you have contributed during your lifetime.
While a vast majority of Americans donate to charity throughout their lives, less than 1 in 10 will give to charity through estate planning.
All of us should give more thought to providing financial support at our death for those organizations that advance the values and principles dear to our hearts.
A common misconception about charitable giving is that one must give a lot of money to make an impact. In truth, all gifts count, and even a gift you may think is modest can provide a profound benefit to our children.
Gifts in wills are critical to our work to help children break free from poverty. They give us the funds we need to help care for more than 20,000 children each year. By remembering World Villages for Children in your estate plans, you give our children the chance for a brighter future!
You can choose to leave a specific amount or item to World Villages for Children in your will or name World Villages for Children to receive a percentage of your estate afer all other gifts and expenses have been paid.
To learn more, please contact us at 1-800-662-6316 (toll free).