In 2010, following a mission trip to the country, Bethany Wentz and her soon-to-be husband, Brad, made a commitment to help improve the quality of life for the people of Pinalejo, Honduras. Over the course of the last eight years, the couple partnered with Bakerstown Alliance Church in Gibsonia, Pa. to provide meals, shoes, school supplies and other basic necessities that most people here take for granted. They called their initiative “Dream Big Honduras.”
Dream Big Honduras has accomplished many things since its inception, most recently being granted nonprofit status. With the approval of its nonprofit standing, Mrs. Wentz said Dream Big Honduras is able to continue to pursue its mission fervently.
And dreaming big is certainly on the agenda.
Mrs. Wentz said Dream Big Honduras has always supported education for the children of Pinalejo, recognizing that education is the foundation for which future security is built. For those unfamiliar with the education system in Honduras, the statistics are sobering. While the Honduran constitution states that a free, primary education is “obligatory” for children between the ages of 7 and 14, the reality is, fewer than half of all Honduran children complete their education at the primary level. Lack of schools, adequate professional staff and the exorbitant cost of educational materials all contribute to these sobering statistics. (Source: U.S. Library of Congress)
Essentially, many children were not making it beyond grade six under the current system. Even those who desire to go on beyond grade six are required to pay up to $400 per year for the privilege. “That might not sound like much, but considering the average Honduran lives on $2 a day, and is trying to pay for food and electricity and other necessities, $400 a year for schooling per child is a lot of money,” said Mrs. Wentz. “And paying for schooling beyond grade six under these circumstances unfortunately isn’t a priority for most families.”
Without a proper education, some of those children found themselves in less than desirable situations. “It was hard to see children we’ve invested in ending up in street gangs, or pregnant at 12,” said Mrs. Wentz. “We were running into so many situations with kids we had grown attached to ending up in a bad place because they couldn’t afford to go on to 7th grade. We wanted to change that.”
The realization that the public education system in Honduras is not working for the majority of its children prompted Dream Big Honduras to launch the DBH Tutorial Academy – a place where the children the nonprofit has been supporting can go after school each day to receive tutoring and other educational assistance. The academy opened its doors in February 2018 and houses two, full-time staff members who are able to assist students with homework and other educational needs. It also provides access to computers and the Internet and a library. “They basically have all the tools they need, because these kids are going home to a one-room house with nowhere to do their homework.”
Between 30 to 40 children use the academy for support purposes. Of those children, Dream Big Honduras also is sponsoring education beyond grade six for 10 of them. The academy costs $1,200 per month to operate. It is a huge undertaking for the nonprofit, which works hard to drum up financial support to keep its missions going.
Moving forward, Mrs. Wentz said Dream Big Honduras would like to fund its own school in Honduras for students in grades seven and eight, as well as vocational training. “We want our children to have options for their future, and we think this is the best way to make that happen.”
In order to begin the next phase of their journey, Mrs. Wentz said the nonprofit will be required to start a sister nonprofit in Honduras, as required by the Honduran government. She and some Dream Big Honduras board members have planned a trip to the country in January 2019 to begin the process. “Ideally, we’d like to pull it off by 2020, but we’re not sure how financially possible it will be to make it happen that quickly.”
How to Donate
Inspired to help Dream Big Honduras on its mission to provide quality education to the children of Pinalejo?
Monetary donations can be sent to:
Dream Big Honduras
11269 Babcock Blvd
Valencia, PA 16059
*Please make checks payable to Dream Big Honduras*
Online donations also are accepted via paypal. To learn more, visit the Dream Big Honduras website.
Shari L. Berg is the owner/operator of The Write Reflection, and a writing professional for 25 years.