Children of Utila is a non-profit organization established by two women who saw the extreme needs of the children of Utila and decided to do something about it. Our efforts focus on children at Centro Educación Básica República de Honduras.
Mission: Children of Utila exists to meet the basic needs of the children at Utila’s public school so they can get an education.
Vision: We advocate for the Children of Utila to receive the best education possible at the public school. We stand in the gap between extreme need and resources that improve health, sanitation, and education. We know the children are the future of this tiny Caribbean island and education can transform a life to give them a chance to rise above poverty, illiteracy, and hopelessness.
Our teams are uniquely positioned to build real relationships with the children and teachers because of consistent and personal interaction. We have found this to be a key component in bringing relevant and timely solutions to current needs. Partnering with donors and volunteers, we strive to daily do for one child what we wish we could do for all children of Utila.
- Raise awareness and funds to provide resources for the children and teachers
- Advocate individual real-time needs as they come up
- Provide school lunches on an individual basis
- Provide school uniforms on an individual basis
- Coordinate volunteer activity
School Uniform Initiative:
In 2012, we outfitted 92 extremely poor children with new school uniforms. They were able to attend school every day and not share a uniform with a sibling or cousin. The uniforms are purchased in La Ceiba, the closest port city on mainland Honduras to our little island. A complete uniform consists of a white shirt, navy pants or skirts, and black shoes. The price for a full uniform is about $32. If you add socks and undershirts, it is about $40.
School Supply Initiative:
We bought a supply of notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, and erasers from which we were able to dispense to students as needed during the 2012 school year.
In 2013, we continue to supply classes and teachers with these essentials items. Teachers are always in need of dry erase markers and we keep them supplied.
Our advocates bring many of these supplies with them in their luggage when they visit Utila, and that helps us maintain our stock for the school.
We fed 14 children a hot lunch from August through November 2012. These children came to school hungry and had no lunch or money to buy lunch.
In 2013, we have 33 students, roughly three from each class, who fall into our criteria. We are raising up sponsors now to help us accomplish this. It costs $1.53 per day or $42 /month to sponsor a child. As of March 1, 2013, we have 5 children sponsored. The children can order a hot lunch of 2 baleadas (burritos) or 2 pastelitos (doughy pocket filled with rice and meat and deep-fried) and a topogio (juice bag). The children cannot order candy or soda.
As of October 2013, we have sponsored 7 children since April at a cost of $959.
School Library Project
The public school has never had a library. One teacher shared a vision she had of creating a room full of books where the children could hang out and read. We took her idea to heart and completed the project one year to the day it began.
As the 2013 school year began, we were ready to have the children begin enjoying the books. We spent the school break cleaning, sorting, and inserting library cards into 2262 books. We logged 55 hours, had the help of two volunteers, and used 27 glue sticks. We delivered and categorized the books in the library in February as the children were returning to school.
But, as the school year unfolded, it did not take the shape we expected. The school experienced a shakeup, which I wrote about here, and underwent a renovation to the classrooms. These events stretched the teaching staff and classrooms and left the library without a teacher.
Still, we pressed on, hiring a carpenter to separate the tables, and having a volunteer buy the lumber and install new tabletops. In October, we were able to open the library during recess for the children to come in and read, color, work puzzles, and play games. We are figuring it out as we go, relying on the teachers to staff the library for their class, and staggering recess times so that more kids can use the small room.
The mayoral elections are being held in November 2013, and we are waiting to see if the new mayor will fulfill promises to renovate the building that houses the library. There are several buildings left on the school grounds that have not been updated for 50 years, and were not renovated when the main building was in April 2013.