A Light for Street Kids

Michael Klatt is a CRS volunteer who helped create a waste management project in Honduras. He is currently completing his volunteer work at the Diocese of Chicago, Illinois communicating to parishes about Honduras and CRS. This entry is part of a series of personal reflections our volunteers are sharing from their journey and experience overseas.

He was wearing baggy, ripped pants and an oversized dirty shirt. I saw him from a distance walking away from me down a semi-deserted street in the capital, Tegucigalpa. He approached two cab drivers, who were talking to each other outside their cabs. He appeared to be unsuccessfully asking for some spare change. He seemed to be about 13 or 14 years old. He shuffled off down another street and out of sight.

Michael Klatt, a CRS volunteer, with Honduran children the National Institute of Children and the Family. Photo by Michael Klatt/CRS

Something in my interior didn’t allow me to just continue towards my hotel. I went around the corner to seek this boy out. I said hello to him and began to ask him a few questions. I wanted to know why he wasn’t in his house or at a shelter. I noticed that he had a soda bottle, which is frequently used by addicts to sniff glue. The glue allows for a brief ecstatic sensation, but it destroys brain cells and is highly addictive. He asked for a little bit of money so that he could pay off a debt at a “hotel” where he was staying, which would then allow him to stay there one more night. He hurled his bottle of glue onto the roof of a nearby store, and said that he didn’t want it anymore.

I told him that he should visit Casa Alianza (known as Covenant House in the U.S.). The CRS-supported shelter, located in the capital of Tegucigalpa does a fantastic job dealing with kids that have been sucked into gangs, drugs and prostitution. CRS provides social workers and psychologists that spend time to counsel the children. I personally saw the monumental task that Casa Alianza faces when I visited there in December, 2007.

I also had the pleasure of meeting with kids at the National Institute of Children and the Family, which is directly supported by CRS with food rations for the children’s meals.

The future for many youth in the largest cities of Honduras, and throughout the world, is complicated, to say the least. The family structure is breaking down. All kids are the future of humanity…and “Great hopes make all things possible.” (Benjamin Franklin)

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