With all of the news recently about the situation of thousands of children coming to our borders from Central America, I feel the need to share first hand information from a missionary in Honduras on why the children are leaving. I’ve been in contact with Suzy McCall from The Lamb Institute in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, as part of my research for my latest book. Lamb Institute provides multiple services for people in one of the most violent and poverty-stricken areas of Tegucigalpa. Their services include a school, a home for abused and neglected children, a micro-finance program, a Safe House for teenage girls rescued from traffickers, and the Alonzo Movement designed to help children stay out of gangs.
Gangs are huge problem in Honduras. As Suzy wrote in a recent email:
“If you look at the NYTimes article on my FB page, you will see what children are facing each day in the large, marginal neighborhoods (slums). Either you (1) join a gang, (2) refuse to join a gang and face execution, or (3) flee. Imagine how parents feel! Young girls in particular also face constant danger from traffickers. I’m sending my 19-yr-old stateside again soon, partly because of educational reasons, but also because I do not want her to get picked up by traffickers or gang members. Yesterday gang members threw grenades into a chicken restaurant burning alive the waitress who worked there. They do this when the business owner cannot or does not pay the “war tax,” which is an amount levied by the gangs themselves. In the States, it’s sometimes called “protection money.” If you do not pay, they sentence you to death. Of course this woman had nothing to do with it; she was just an employee. But the gangs have no respect for human life.
Anyway, the huge influx of child refugees is an effort on the part of their families to save their lives. It is estimated that 70% are sexually abused before they even reach the States. It is truly a “Hail Mary” journey. I find it all so heartbreaking.”
One dollar out of every print sale of my latest book, Land of Deep Waters, will be donated to The Lamb Institute to support their ministries in this troubled country. For more information on Lamb go to their website http://www.lambinstitute.org.