Bewildered, unable to speak Spanish, shocked by the poverty he saw, feeling utterly useless and insignificant, he was eager to return home after being there for two months with the desire to learn Spanish. But the night he left everything changed. One of the girls turned to him and said, “Don’t forget us.”
This fellowship is to honor that girl and all the girls that have ever been a part of the Our Little Roses family, some two hundred abandoned and abused girls who have gone on to become engineers and dentists and more. Our Little Roses is the only all girl orphanage in a country of 250,000 orphans. Prior to the founding of the home, the most likely outcome for such a girl was to become a prostitute or a maid.
Through the OLR Poetry Fellowship, poets from around the world have the opportunity to spend one month at Our Little Roses in San Pedro Sula live on-site at the home and teach in the co-ed bilingual school next door.
The poet has the opportunity to teach all grades from kindergarten up to 11th grade (the top grade in Honduras). The fellow will be awarded a $1,000.00 honorarium along with a grant to help with travel and living expenses.
The on-campus lodging, a private, air conditioned, one-bedroom apartment, allows for optimal interaction with the girls outside of the classroom.
The apartment has a full kitchen, however you are invited to join the girls in the cafeteria as well (we have amazing cooks!)
The fellowship also includes a $500.00 allowance to allow for a celebration of the work while in country. This is usually a pizza party where one of the girls is awarded “The Poet’s Chair”. This should also cover expenses to fund a presentation back home at a library, a poetry center, a youtube presentation: be creative!
As part of the ending ceremony of the residency we conduct a bit of a ceremony. Students can enter their poems into a competition and the visiting poet is the judge. Awards are given with the most prized poet earning the right to the “Poet’s Bench”.
The Poet’s Bench was designed by one of Our Little Roses talented woodworkers, Ana, in our on-site wood working studio. On the center of the front side of the bench-back there are hands holding roses and angel’s wings on the sides of the hands.
This rich tradition began back when Spencer Reece was on his Fulbright Scholarship back in 2013. He brought a fellow poet with him, Sarah Humphries. Sarah grew up in Wales and took the inspiration for the bench/espectáculo/poetry winner from the Welsh “Eisteddfod”.
According to Ms. Humphries, “Eisteddfod” comes from “eistedd” , literally meaning “to sit”, and is a big concert to showcase art (especially dance and choirs), which ends with the winning poet being seated in a ceremony called the “chairing of the bard”. The aim of the event is to promote peace, and during the “chairing of the bard ceremony” in Llangollen, a sword is sheathed 3 times above the bards head. Only the winning poet is allowed to sit in the chair during that year, which is kind of like a throne for a king/queen. Eisteddfods are held wherever there is a concentration of Welsh people, like Wales, Australia, and Patagonia.
Sarah now lives and works in Bilbao, Spain.
The girls will not be forgotten.