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Hurricane ETA & Iota

How Education in Honduras Was Impacted

In November of 2020, Honduras experienced some of the most powerful hurricanes in its history. Hurricane ETA hit the country first, and not long after that, Honduras was also devastated by Hurricane Iota. 

Hurricane ETA and Iota did not tread lightly, leaving Honduras in a state of pure destitution. In addition to the destruction that hurricanes naturally cause, the people of Honduras have been grappling with the secondary effects of these natural disasters, including homelessness, health conditions, lack of access to education, and even more poverty.

These problems are exacerbated for the most vulnerable, impoverished young girls in society, who may already face food shortages or are at an increased risk of being pulled out of education early to assist their families with other duties. These problems become even more acute during times of hurricanes and national disasters.

Hurricanes can impact the education of young girls in several other ways too. They may lose access to transportation due to flooding or damage to vehicles, and in the worst cases, it can result in homelessness.

Keep reading to find out how education in Honduras was affected by Hurricane ETA and Iota, how it impacted Our Little Roses, and how we are rebuilding after the storms.

How Honduras Was Affected by the Two Hurricanes

hurricane pathways

Some of the most notable effects of the hurricanes in Honduras were mass flooding, severe landslides, and power outages for miles. Relief packages of nearly $8 million were put aside for the sake of providing government aid to Honduras, but even with the millions of dollars in aid, recovering from the setbacks that the hurricanes have caused will take years. 

According to an emergency appeal in Honduras, numerous Honduran neighborhoods were forced into a state of seclusion. The hurricanes destroyed necessary infrastructure in Honduran communities, leaving houses collapsed and roads blocked off to traffic. 

For the families living along the Chamelecón River, destruction was even more severe. After consulting with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Honduras, it was discovered that the storms destroyed nearly 80% of all agricultural sources in the country.

The Impact of Hurricanes on Education for Children

Child writing

The OLR classrooms turned into hurricane bunkers for the girls.

While the storms affected those of all economic statuses, impoverished Honduran children had to experience even more challenges after the destruction caused by Hurricane ETA and Iota. 

Some neighborhoods in Honduras already struggle to provide adequate educational opportunities to the children. In areas where education is already sparse, natural disasters exacerbate the problem by making school even more challenging to attend.

When you consider the fact that young impoverished girls face increased pressure at home due to domestic duties, risk of sexual violence, and exploitation, the impact of a hurricane on their education can be significant and, in the worst cases, irreversible.

Even in communities where schooling is more accessible, hurricanes typically cut off that access by blocking roadways or destroying school buildings. Schools often report low attendance rates in the aftermath of hurricanes because children cannot physically get to class.

If a child’s parent cannot return to work following a natural disaster, it is equally likely that the child will not go back to school either. This likelihood has everything to do with the high tuition costs and the inability to pay for school without a steady income stream.

The longer children are not in school, the more school work they will have to catch up on when they can return, and in many cases, these hurricane-related interruptions in schooling become permanent, and the children never return to school.

How We’re Rebuilding at Our Little Roses

Flooded house in Honduras

After the storms struck, we had a lot of work ahead of us. While we prepared as heavily as we could for the oncoming storm by placing sandbags outside, stocking up on supplies, and setting up beds on the 2nd floor of Holy Family Bilingual School, the hurricanes still greatly affected the surrounding area and disrupted programming. Just steps from outside the gates of Our Little Roses, there was flooded water of around 2 feet, and the heavy downpour caused OLR to lose power for some time.

Luckily the home and school were spared physical damage, but our beautiful Schilling/Weeks Retreat Center in Petoa was not so lucky.  The banks of the river were washed away, along with our soccer field and a large barrier wall. Again, we thank God that the home of the Center’s caretakers was spared. 

Flood in Honduras

The days and weeks after the storms began to uncover the depth of the damage.  We started getting texts with pictures of the homes of some of our staff and alum. Their homes were completely underwater or filled with earth from the mudslides.  One of our alum was stuck on the roof of her home with her child for days as she waited to be rescued. 

Boxes and supply in center

Through the generosity of our supporters, we were able to house our staff in our off-campus apartments and help the staff and alum replace some of their possessions. Cleaning out the mud was another story. This task proved more complicated than we ever imagined. The country continues the work of recovery. The storms left thousands of people homeless which has exacerbated the spread of COVID-19.

World Food Safety Day

Hurricanes and natural disasters bring attention to a critical issue that those in developing countries can face: food safety. Natural disasters not only cause damage to infrastructure, but they can also lead to contamination of water systems, agriculture, and even the spread of foodborne diseases if proper sanitary measures are not taken. 

Those living in impoverished countries may not always have access to clean water or electricity to begin with, and experiencing a devastating hurricane can create further challenges when people are displaced or wait long periods to receive help.

World Food Safety Day is observed on June 7th and draws attention to these issues and how we as a global community can manage and prevent foodborne risks. This year, the theme for World Food Safety Day is ‘Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow.’ As a society, it is essential to advocate for food safety for those all over the world, especially those in low-income countries. It is not an isolated issue; when the food a society consumes is safe, this affects the community as a whole, from economic prosperity to environmental sustainability.

At Our Little Roses, we understand the importance of ensuring food safety for our girls, as a nurturing environment includes having access to healthy, clean meals and water. Our sponsors and donors help us provide the best quality nutrition and meals so that the girls are nourished and able to feel their best.

Make a Difference by Empowering Education with Our Little Roses

At Our Little Roses, making a positive impact in our Honduran neighborhood is at the root of what we do. Our mission is to provide basic life necessities to all of the girls we care for, including education, housing, food, healthcare, and a caring environment where the girls can thrive. 

Education plays a pivotal role in these girls’ lives by helping them escape poverty, empowering them to become leaders in their communities, and challenging the patriarchy in Honduras today.

As a non-profit organization, Our Little Roses is made possible by people like you who sign up to become donors and sponsors. You can make donations on a one-time basis, or you can opt into donating a set amount on an ongoing basis. 

Sponsorships are a more personal opportunity where you can get to know a girl and watch her flourish with your assistance. Every contribution, no matter how small, helps to change these girls’ lives for the better. For more information on how you can apply to become a sponsor of Our Little Roses, please read more about how our sponsorship program works.

We thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity. People like you are why Our Little Roses has such a high success rate in improving girls’ lives in Honduras!