A Passport Stamped with Love

Read our executive director's perspective after his latest trip to Honduras to check out each BECA school, meet with the parents, and fit in a baleada or two.

I often laugh when a friend picks up my passport and flips through the pages. I know it’s something I do when given another’s passport; a way to live another’s travel adventures by proxy. However, as the pages of my passport turn, there’s really only one stamp anyone finds that reads “Dirección General de Migración de Honduras” – repeating twenty-nine times, actually.

The latest entrance stamp marks a wonderful 3-week trip where I spent my time strategizing with our partners, laughing with our students, sharing stories with families, offering anecdotes to our new volunteers, holding newborns (the next generation of BECA student), and eating papaya that doesn’t cost $6.00!

A favourite part of any trip is always the partner meetings. During each trip, I hold meetings with each of BECA’s school partners. Those meetings are always a unique blend of seriousness and humour only possible in Honduras.

At SJBS, our partners on the Junta gathered in the newly-designed meeting room to discuss the school’s current status. After 20 minutes everyone present was sweating and reaching for water (the fans weren’t working). But despite the heat and humidity, everyone toughed it out for 4 hours to make sure everything that needed to be discusses was. That’s some dedication shown by an elected group of volunteer parents, right?

At SMBS, it was a morning meeting with the nuns. This time the fans were working as we all squatted into the tiniest of chairs made for the tiniest of students in the beautiful SMBS library. Picture a Canadian, two Americans, a Honduran, and a Spanish nun sitting in coloured children’s seats.

At ADJ, we met with Amy and Wilson, the directors, at a set of picnic tables located down a slight hill from the school office, but still in earshot of the laughter overflowing from the classrooms. We made sure to sweep off the rice that had escaped the student’s lunch plates before beginning.

This year, BECA was proud to sit on the education panel at the Sustainable Honduras Conference where we presented our model’s approach to equity and empowerment. This yearly conference is a place for local and international NGOs to gather, converse, exchange ideas, and continue building a change-making network that works to lift Honduras into economic and social prosperity. It’s also a great place for BECA to get some feedback and interest in the work we do.

One of the most encouraging and exciting things about the 3-week trip was seeing the exceptional work that the 2015-16 volunteer team is doing. This year we have a remarkably engaged, excited, impassioned, and driven group that is making great progress in their classrooms and communities.

Before heading back to the airport to receive stamp number 30, a ranch-style restaurant in San Pedro Sula hosted the BECA volunteer team a lovely appreciation night. I have known Ramon, the restaurant’s owner, now for a few years and he has always has great stories to share, but this Halloween he shared his restaurant, his food, and his hospitality. This level of love and appreciation has become commonplace in the communities where we work.

For now, until the next stamp, it’s back to fundraising over the holiday season and recruiting our next crop of BECA volunteers.