The Foundation for Education in Honduras (FEIH) commits to reconstruct and expand five primary schools in high-need areas of rural Honduras in the next three years. FEIH will focus its efforts on improving school infrastructure and enhancing curriculum through its Pen-Pal Program and Health Education Initiative.
FEIH will reconstruct five schools with reliable infrastructure that protect children from the dangerous and unhygienic conditions they currently face. FEIH will also construct clean and fully functional bathrooms in all of its schools in an effort to address gender specific health issues. These bathrooms will separate males from females and students from staff. In addition to reconstructing schools, FEIH will provide desks, chairs, blackboards, uniforms, and other vital school supplies.
FEIH will enhance curriculum through an international Pen-Pal Program with American classes and volunteers, which will broaden the students geographic scope and engage them in cross-cultural learning.
FEIH is committed to not only providing basic health supplies and resources, such as soap/hand sanitizer and first aid supplies, but also making health education a priority in the communities it serves. Information will be disseminated through pamphlets and posters created by US medical school students, which will cover topics such as hygiene, nutrition, common diseases, and reproductive health. In addition, FEIH will schedule two health seminars for each school related to reproductive and dental health. FEIH will promote exercise and activity by providing playground equipment to all five schools. By combining these strategies, FEIH aims to ensure that community members are better informed and equipped when it comes to their health.
FEIH will engage communities through a partnership model. In this regard, FEIH will seek approval and assistance from community leaders and work with them to assign roles to parents and community members to assist with school reconstruction and rehabilitation. Both students and parents will sign a contract prior to the project confirming they will respect the school and support its maintenance. The goal of this model is to ensure that the communities take a stake in their school and continue to maintain it long after reconstruction is completed. FEIH commits to using local architects, contractors, manufacturers, and laborers, as well as sourcing the vast majority of materials locally to ensure a positive downstream impact on the local economy.
Each school will take anywhere between two and four months for construction and one month to install various inputs and supplies. The remaining time will be spent carefully observing the new school, beginning monitoring & evaluation activities, and simultaneously marketing the new school in the US to assist with fundraising for future projects.
The action steps for each school will consist of the following:
1. Receive formal written request for assistance from school administration
2. Send local field team to survey school and take pictures
3. Review field report with President of FEIH President approves
4. Liaise with local contractor to receive construction and labor estimates
5. Liaise with local school/office supply stores to receive supply estimates
6. Review field report and budget with Board of Directors for final vote Board approves
7. Finalize project plan with school administration and community leaders
8. Delegate community roles for construction/maintenance and collect signed contracts from parents/children
9. Construction begins
10. Quarter, half, three-quarter construction check-ins
11. Construction completed
12. School carefully observed post-construction to ensure everything is operating as planned
13. Ongoing monitoring & evaluation
1. Gather schools roster of students
2. Engage students in US high school Spanish classes, as well as other volunteers, to write personalized Pen-Pal letters to each child
3. Ship the letters to Honduras
4. Provide each child a backpack on the first day of school containing the personalized letter
5. Classes will be encouraged to respond by working with their teachers to craft letters in Spanish that will be sent back to the US students/volunteers
6. Return letters picked up by local FEIH staff and shipped to FEIH NY for distribution
Health Education Initiative:
1. Gather schools roster of students
2. Purchase basic sanitation and first aid supplies from local stores or US programs
3. Provide each child a backpack on the first day of school containing a bag of supplies and a pamphlet explaining how they should be used and why they are important
4. Schedule health seminars focused on reproductive, dental, and preventive health
Honduras faces immense challenges as a nation and is in desperate need of assistance. According to the CIA World Factbook and the New York Times, Honduras is burdened with the number one homicide rate in the world, more than half of its population lives in poverty, and it represents the country with the most attempts by undocumented and unaccompanied minors to migrate to the United States. The Foundation for Education in Honduras (FEIH) team knows the road to change in Honduras will be long and challenging, but strongly believes the key to change lies in the most powerful tool of all, Education.
In high-need areas of rural Honduras, opportunities to receive a strong education are limited by a lack of resources. Communities may have some form of education infrastructure in place, but it is often broken down and unable to effectively address the needs of the population. Crumbling schools leads to uncomfortable and unsanitary conditions for students and teachers. When those circumstances are accompanied by a lack of teaching and learning materials, and other basic school supplies, learning becomes virtually impossible.
In addition to its education infrastructure challenges, Honduras also faces challenges with health infrastructure, supplies, and education. According to the International Journal of Family Medicine, over 80% of Hondurans do not have health insurance and 30% are without healthcare altogether. Infant mortality rate, a common measure of population health, is 25 per 1,000, over 60% higher than the regional average. These problems are particularly exasperated in rural villages where most of the population lacks safe drinking water, basic sanitation, and access to health clinics.
As a new foundation, FEIH is still learning daily about how best to operate and manage the organization. For that reason, best practice information would be helpful both from organizations involved in education initiatives as well as organizations operating in Latin/Central America.
Media support will be a key tool for FEIH. After an article about FEIH was published by the Daily News in February, social media following more than doubled, donations came in, and more volunteers joined the cause. As FEIH has a powerful story to tell, this success can be replicated if the story hits more media outlets.
Implementing partners will always be welcome as FEIH continuously looks to enhance its schools programs. While the local government and teachers will design basic curriculum, FEIH will seek to enhance this curriculum through its Pen Pal Program and Health Education Initiative, and is open to teaming up with other organizations that can assist with these programs, provide new ideas for curriculum, and help vet the quality of on ongoing curriculum.
FEIH is open to becoming an implementing partner with other organizations across the globe that are focused on education initiatives. FEIH will be transparent with its partners as it gathers best practice information and will share any helpful tips about operating in Central America as well as constructing schools.