Home sweet home?
Alleviating the plight of deported Honduran children
By Matthieu Dobler (MCC Honduras Co-Representative)
But sometimes, as was the case with Kenia, nobody awaits them and no one knows where they belong.
When Kenia was approximately 6 years old, her father decided to migrate from Honduras to the U.S. Kenia’s mother had died when she was born, so for a while Kenia lived at her uncle’s house, where she was mistreated and harmed. One day, Kenia couldn’t bear the threats and hits any longer and she escaped: “I didn’t know where to go. I just kept walking. I got into a bus and I didn’t have money to pay but the bus helper let me in because I told him I was with the woman who was in front of me.”
Kenia was caught on her journey north by the police and put into a children’s home in Guatemala, where she stayed for a while and attended school. When she had just started second grade in March 2014, she was deported back to Honduras. She recalls:“They told me I was going to be sent to the place where I was from and I was taken to the ONESIMO*children’s home.”
Nowadays, Kenia feels good: “I behave well. I want to stay here until I turn 18 and then I want to find a job. I also want to graduate from school. When I am older I want to move to the United States. And when I have enough money to buy whatever I want, I will return to Honduras to buy myself a house, a car. I like cars but I prefer bicycles.”
In the past year, thousands of children like Kenia have been returned to Honduras. Normally, some (extended) family members await the returned children upon their arrival. But sometimes, as was the case with Kenia, nobody awaits them and no one knows where they belong.
Between January and October 2014, about 8,000 Honduran children and about 62,000 adults were deported from Mexico or the United States to Honduras. Record numbers of Hondurans are migrating to the U.S. and Mexico, and record numbers are being deported.
The causes for this surge of migrants from Honduras include violence (extortion, homicides, gang recruitment and domestic violence), lack of jobs, the pursuit of better education and medical services, and family reunification. False promises and hopes about being able to stay in the U.S. are also contributing factors.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Honduras launched an emergency project together with our local partner organization Comisión de Acción Social Menonita (CASM) in order to alleviate the plight of deported children. The project provides psychological accompaniment and supports local children’s homes that open up their doors to receive these returned children. They provide food, shelter, clothing and medical assistance until longer-term solutions can be found.
MCC strives to put into practice Jesus’ words: “I was a stranger and you invited me in …Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:35, 40).
How could we not recognize deported children such as Kenia as our “least brothers and sisters” and help to make her dreams come true?
Contact the White House and your Members of Congress and urge them to treat migrants from Central America with compassion. | Also, considergiving to MCC’s response effort.
* Name of children’s home changed for security reasons.
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