In late October 1998, Hurricane Mitch struck Central America, leaving more than 11,000 people dead, destroying hundreds of thousands of homes and causing more than $5 billion in damages. It was the deadliest hurricane to hit the Western Hemisphere in more than 200 years.
Honduras and Nicaragua were especially hard hit by the hurricane. In Honduras, floods and mudslides brought on by heavy rainfall washed away entire villages, and the majority of the country’s crops and infrastructure were destroyed.
Out of the appeals for assistance, Austin Helps Honduras was born. The initial focus was to build simple concrete houses with running water and electricity for families who were displaced by the floods. These families were living in cardboard and plywood shacks on the banks of a river in Juticalpa, Olancho, before the floods, and they lost everything. From 1999 to 2009, groups sponsored by AHH traveled to Juticalpa for construction projects, and to address other needs of our friends in the colonia.
The need for a quality education for the children was apparent as most were not going to school beyond the 6th grade. Their parents could not afford even the basic expenses, and instead depended on the meager wages the children could contribute to the family income. AHH addressed this need by constructing an elementary school, providing scholarships for students to continue their education beyond 6th grade, training for teachers at the new school, and ultimately university scholarships for qualified students.
Currently, there are no construction programs in the Colonia, but our commitment to education continues. In the 2016 school year, there are 21 middle school students, 9 high school students, and 4 university students who have received annual scholarships. Each scholarship pays for fees, tuition, materials and equipment, food while at school, transportation, uniforms, and shoes for the school year. Individuals, families, or organizations may sponsor one or more students. To date, over 500 scholarships have been given for academic and vocational programs, and four for courses at the university level.
To find out how you can sponsor a student, contact Glen & Alfrieda Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate to the scholarship fund, contact Patti Ball, AHH Treasurer, at email@example.com.