Once is Not Enough: Alumni Return to Orphanage in Honduras

In rural Honduras, there is a huge ranch where 450 orphaned or abandoned children have a stable home, an education, and an opportunity to learn a trade. It is a place that holds a special place in the hearts of quite a few Saint Anselm alumni.

In December, six Anselmians who served at the orphanage on Spring Break Alternative (now Service & Solidarity Missions) organized a return trip to work with the children and pitch in with chores to help keep the place running. Most had served there more than once.

Alumni in HondurasFor Monica Henry ’05, it was trip number 12. She first visited Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (Spanish for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”) in March 2004, and co-led the following year’s trip. After graduating, she lived and worked there for 18 months as a volunteer. She now works as special events manager for Friends of the Orphans, the charitable organization that supports the home.

“Ever since my first visit with the Saint Anselm College SBA trip, the children of NPH have been my family and home,” Henry says. “They have done more for me than I could ever do for them. I’m honored to be working for an organization that diligently works to improve these children’s lives and help create a sustainable future for them.”

Tess (Franzino) Blackwell ’06, child sponsorship manager for the organization, has a similar story.

“I met Jarvin when he was three years old back in 2007 when he first arrived at the ranch along with his older sister, Yuri. Jarvin was HIV positive, and thanks to the support of NPH he is a healthy, happy, and studious nine-year old boy. John and I began sponsoring him in 2008, and have enjoyed watching him grow over the years each time we visit.”

The child sponsorship program helps provide food, shelter, clothing, and education for all of the children living at the ranch, she says.

Also on the December trip were John Blackwell ’07, Allison Ahern ’07 (also a child sponsor), Devon Katz ’10, and Erin Latina ’07.

Much of the volunteers’ time was spent reading to the children and playing with them. All the food for the children is grown on the ranch, so farm and kitchen chores also are part of the day’s work.

“The culture of service that Saint Anselm is known for continues well beyond graduation,” says Latina, an intensive care unit nurse. “Although we don't all know each other and come from various professional backgrounds, we are each connected to NPH through our participation in Spring Break Alternative while at Saint Anselm."