Backpack Program Volunteers Make An Impact
Small Acts of Great Love
Four mission teams volunteered their time with ER International this spring by helping out with the everyday operations of running the backpack program. Through seemingly ordinary tasks like assisting in school classrooms, purchasing supplies, filling backpacks, and working on community projects, the volunteers were able to make a big impact.
A Walk in Their Shoes
The schools served by the backpack program are located in Roatán, an island just off the coast of Honduras. Known for its beautiful beaches and snorkeling, it’s a popular destination for tourists. However, when volunteers traveled away from the main visitor attractions, they quickly saw the challenges faced by many of the island’s residents.
One community called La Colonia is home to thousands of Hondurans who migrated to Roatán to escape the crime and gang activities on the mainland. Unemployment and poverty create difficult living conditions for the hundreds of children living here. Most homes are wooden shanties with no electricity, running water, or windows. Outhouses and outside tubs for washing and bathing are common.
Seeing firsthand the way the children use their imagination, play, and are happy despite the obstacles they face daily left a lasting impression on volunteers. Many said that they started their work expecting to make a difference for others, but in reality they left feeling like the ones who were changed for the better by the experience.
Volunteers jumped in to lend a hand wherever they were needed. For example, during their weeklong stay, the men from a nine person group out of Oasis Church in Farmington, New Mexico pitched in to build a second-level and roof on a church in La Colonia. Meanwhile, the women kept busy by aiding teachers during school lessons, spending time with the children, and filling backpacks with food.
Later, a group of volunteers from Abundant Life Church in Denham Springs, Louisiana, spent a day at one of the schools. One of the couple’s, in the group, and their children were overjoyed to meet and spend time with their sponsored child during this visit. Another couple even decided to sponsor a child that they met that day!
Additional helpers included members of Liberty Church in New York, who assisted with the backpack program for their second year in a row, and then another couple, ER International board members, came to visit also, who provided hands-on support to the program for an entire week.
YOU can volunteer with the backpack program, too! We can accommodate a wide variety of group sizes and ages, and we’ll help you find the best lodging and transportation for your needs. English is widely spoken on the island and founders Ernie and Robyn have extensive knowledge of the area, so getting around is easy. As a bonus, you’ll have plenty of time to soak in the sun at the beach during your stay.
If volunteering doesn’t work, the very best way to help the backpack program is by sponsoring a child. Your $22 each month will assure that a student stays in school as well as feeds their entire family every week. For details on sponsorship, click the ‘SPONSOR TODAY’ button below.
ER International still has 16 students waiting for sponsorship right now. If you or someone you know would like to sponsor one of these children, the process is so easy. Simply click the 'SPONSOR TODAY!' button below.