Our Little Roses Ministry (OLR)in San Pedro Sula (Honduras) is a loving home for 73 orphans—poor or abused girls who otherwise would have no place to go. There are no governmental social services or funds for Honduran children who become victims of violence, poverty or disease, and many disadvantaged families abandon their daughters or force them to take charge of the home and their younger siblings, depriving them of their right to an education.
Since the ministry was founded in 1988 in a small rented house with 26 girls, OLR has become an oasis of hope and opportunities. Right now there are 73 girls living in two buildings. 63 girls under the age of 18 are in the main house—a real home that provides them love, medical care, education, spiritual support and a healthy diet. The other 10 stay in more independent housing known as the university transition program. Other services housed within the OLR walled campus include a medical and dental clinic and a bilingual school.
“While living in Honduras, I once visited a home for boys that left a very big impression on me about how a child’s life could be changed when someone took the interest to help them. I then began to notice that there were girls on the streets as well as boys,” says Diana Frade, founder of OLR.
THE POWER OF EDUCATION IN WOMEN’S LIVES
Frade started to investigate what was happening to the girls who were being abandoned and abused. As there were no homes for girls, those who had absolutely no place to go were taken to the women’s penitentiary in order to get them off the streets. Frade, whose husband Leo had been a bishop in Honduras for 17 years, decided that someone needed to take the situation on and challenge the church and the community to do something about it. “Twenty-five years later we now have a home that transforms lives, communities and a nation to the fact that the girl child is definitely God’s equal creation and worthy of all of the benefits that life has to offer, especially in leadership roles where women excel in making a difference,” she says.
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To this day there is no other institution in Honduras dedicated to building lives, preparing and equipping once homeless girls to enter and support them in the middle class society. “This is important because uneducated girls with no skills have little to no opportunities to escape poverty level circumstances,” Frade emphasizes. Today, one of the OLR “graduates” is an engineer, another is a dentist, and yet another runs a beauty parlor.
A BOOK & A FILM
“One of my passions is talking about how lives can be transformed and made whole,” Frade maintains. “The arts in all of their expressions are a big part of the picture of healing lives that I have seen over and over again.”
Therefore, one of the most exciting projects at OLR is led by Father Spencer Reece, who is also an award-winning American poet. He spent some time working at OLR with the girls years ago. “Nothing prepared me for it. Honduras is the poorest Spanish speaking country in the Western Hemisphere. I had never seen such poverty. I had never lived with orphans.”
During his last night in Honduras, he was “feeling rather useless,” until one girl, Wendolin, said to him, “Don’t forget us.” It touched him deeply. “I was a middle-aged gringo speaking Spanish terribly, who’d worked in Florida malls and wrote a book of poems. She was counting on me,” he says. Father Reeves moved to Spain to improve his Spanish and, after a first vain attempt, he was given a Fulbright scholarship that now has allowed him to go back to OLR to work with the girls. All together, they are writing and illustrating a book of poems that will be published in a bilingual edition.
At the same time, a feature-length documentary film is being directed by Brad Coley. Actor James Franco is executive producer on the film, and Dar Williams is recording the soundtrack. Once completed, the film will be entered into all major film festivals, including Sundance, Cannes and San Sebastian.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
OLR is funded basically individual donations and sponsorships. “What is most beneficial is a donation that is unrestricted allowing us to use the money where and when it is most needed,” Frade says.
In case someone can’t or doesn’t want to give money, OLR accepts school supplies, too (except liquid items and paper goods, which weigh too much and are difficult to ship to Honduras). Backpacks, scissors, rulers, educational games, flash cards, etc., are always needed. It is also possible to donate money specifically for the film. All donations can be arranged online.
Altogether, we can satisfy Wendolin’s wish that the girls of OLR not be forgotten, and we can help maintain this loving refuge dedicated not just to saving lives, but to educating and empowering these young Honduran girls.