Friday, August 10, 2012

Daisy’s Children Founder Spends Month in Honduras

Hand-making tortillas to feed more than 100 children (courtesy photo)

One of Noble’s local heroes talks about trip

Story by Sharon Beckwith

“Welcome back.”
“You got some sun.”
“How was your trip?”
“Was it successful?”
“Did you have a good time?”

All genuine questions posed when one returns to Maine from a summer adventure. But how do you answer when you feel like you've traveled through time warps and experienced the unimaginable?
Not a reasonable, pert answer can be readily developed on the fly. Which part do you divulge to the one who asked? Do you describe the rush of hot, humid air as you walk out the airport doors into what often looks like “the land before time?” Perhaps you should smile politely as you describe hand-making authentic tortillas with your daughter to feed more than 100 children. Will this person be able to relate to your tales of traveling down a narrow, mountainous cattle path by car amid the cattle so that you can access food for the hungry children? Then of course there are the cold showers that you actually look forward to as temperatures soar. Let's not forget the tropical thunderstorms which look and sound like those on the television at home, as the electricity goes out yet again, and you watch the mountain road outside wash away in a sea of brown rapids. Will you spend another early morning sweeping mud and water out of the rooms of the guarderia?
Can you impart the joy as you see once malnourished children laughing, playing, or in their uniforms preparing to walk to school after breakfast? Will they understand the humility and pride as you are asked to speak as the voice of the village children by the mayor during negotiations with a neighboring mayor who refuses to allow road access, access that could mean life or death to a child? Will they believe your witnessing of life in a typical hospital in which two women post-Caesarian shared a single bed with their two newborns as well?
And so unfolds my true-life journey. I’m  a local kindergarten teacher, and this is a familiar journey for me, as I travel to the village of Concepcion del Norte, Santa Barbara, Honduras at least twice a year. What began as a trip to aid a travel group in 2007, has now become so much more. Daisy's Children, named after Deysi Suyapa Madrid Chavez, is a non-profit organization which strives to provide sustenance, clean drinking water, education, and medical intervention within this and surrounding villages.
In 2008, I returned to the village again to serve as medical support. Using my former career as a nurse to support a group for a week seemed like a reasonable thing to do. Just prior to traveling, a story reached me that confirmed why I should go. A young woman in the village had recently died, leaving behind several children. She had died because she opted to not eat so what little she had could be fed to her children. Little did anyone realize what my first meeting with these three children would bring to all that it has touched through an initial photograph and the voice brought to it. 
What began as the urge to feed three has evolved, through the help of many, into a guarderia or daycare center, as we in the states would refer to it, that now feeds 119 children two meals and a snack, Monday through Friday. I got to spend ample time aiding the four women from the village who run “Casa Verde” - as the locals refer to it - as a well-oiled machine. Also, my daughter Ashley and I were able to coordinate a parents day in which all parents came to answer some vital questions to allow Daisy's Children to develop valid statistics surrounding family structure, education level of parents, as well as current height, weight, and photographs. Acute awareness pierced the air as we listened to parents struggle to recall ages or birthdates of their children. This was emphasized even further as parents and grandparents alike completed the forms with three Xs as their signature.
So many poignant images come to mind as I try to recall twenty-four days spent amongst these people that I have developed such strong ties to. Happy faces bringing roadside flowers and love notes. People who truly have nothing brought me gifts of avocadoes and mangoes. One of the most concerning 'littles' brought me a red plastic bracelet in gratitude, and it still sits on my wrist to remind me of those I leave behind each time. And then I remember the moment that strikes my core each time I recall it: the tears welling in the eyes of a mother who tells me how proud she is to now have the opportunity alongside her husband to work selling firewood - work that makes her heart swell with pride because she was able to buy a small wooden table and a mattress for her family of seven. The children no longer have to sleep on the cold earth floor.
Each step I take on this side of such a trip makes me aware of every blessing I have, including the group of 119 children who call me by name from wherever they are in the village, making each time I tell the story, and each moment I spend conjuring up the next fundraiser worth ten times the effort.
We are currently formulating a group to join us in February of 2013 to aid us in transforming a dilapidated two-room school house into a functional space to house a study center for our older children, as well as a site for high school equivalency studies and a future English as a Second Language Center. The completion of this project will lead to our acquisition of the adjoining land to build our permanent guarderia as well as a vocational center. We have hosted multiple groups prior to this and even serve as an annual Alternative Spring Break setting for Northeastern University. For more information, we suggest you read our blog and preview our Volunteer Handbook, both available on our website at To contact me directly, email me