For nearly six months, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Honduras has been providing assistance to more than 750 migrant families who, day by day, make the long trek from South America, through Honduras, in their quest north.
The assistance, which started as an effort to help Haitian migrant families, saw ADRA leaders and volunteers moving quickly to provide food and basic needs. More than 3,000 Haitians passed through the cities bordering Honduras and Nicaragua last year.
“We are seeing an average of 200–300 Haitian migrants each week, but it can fluctuate, with some weeks increasing significantly,” said Luis Trundle, ADRA Honduras director.
The project was originally slated to provide a hygiene kit to each Haitian family selected, but it had to be modified to vouchers or cards so they could obtain what they most needed in local grocery stores, explained Trundle. Although the assistance is mainly for Haitian migrant families, the project has been opened to other families from different nationalities.
It is estimated that some 1,000–1,500 migrants from Venezuela, Cuba, Senegal, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other countries come into Honduras, said Trundle.
With a voucher worth US$23.00, a migrant family of four is able to buy canned foods, bread, crackers, peanut butter, personal hygiene products, medicines and anything they choose to help them on their journey.
ADRA Honduras has set up assistance with volunteers, translators, and coordinators in Choluteca and El Paraiso, which are bordering cities close to Nicaragua, where immigrants can register.
Jesús Manueles, ADRA Honduras emergency response officer, has been overseeing the response and ensuring that migrant families are able to get what they need when they arrive. “When each person comes to these specific shelters, they make an appointment to register, and the next day, they are assisted by volunteers who helped them purchase goods with their vouchers,” said Manueles. On the third day, they continue on their journey.
Making the Arduous Journey
“We see how the families come to us dehydrated and exhausted,” said Manueles. “Many of them arrive with just their clothes on their backs, carrying their children, hurting, stressed, and hungry from not eating anything for three days.”
Migrants report they are robbed four or five times throughout their journey in the jungles of Central America. “They are stripped from any personal belongings like watches, cell phones, money, and basically everything,” said Manueles. Women and underage girls report they are sometimes assaulted and raped, and most arrive with lacerations on their arms and legs, with fungus on their feet and many other infections, he explained.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” said Rony Tabora, an ADRA Honduras program officer who assesses the needs of the migrant families and designs assistance projects. “I’ve heard many stories of how they travel for twelve days through the jungle—a trip that usually takes six days. But guides work with armed groups to tire the migrants until they have no food left, are exhausted and disoriented, and then they are robbed and abandoned,” said Tabora, Adding that many are disoriented yet somehow find their way to the next border.
There are many sad stories, Tabora said, indicating that the assistance ADRA is offering to so many who are left with nothing is making a difference.
Caring During the Migrant Crisis
ADRA Honduras has been very involved in caring for the migrants for several years now, alongside other non-government organizations, said Trundle. In addition to the current voucher program, ADRA has been running hydration stations for thousands of migrants in transit north, in coordination with UNICEF and other non-government agencies in Choluteca and El Paraiso.
Right now, the ADRA project to assist migrant families is nearly ending, said Trundle. The project has been budgeted to benefit 950 migrant families, thanks to assistance from ADRA International and ADRA Inter-America. Leaders at ADRA Honduras are hoping to extend the project for two additional months. In addition, plans are underway to also provide personal kits in coordination with UNICEF.
“We are bringing hope to many migrant families,” said Trundle. “Our country is their halfway point of travel, and for us, it feels wonderful to be part of this project.”
“We want these migrant families to find comfort and basic needs here in Honduras, like a small oasis, so they can continue their journey with a little bit more hope,” Trundle said.
To help ADRA Honduras with this Haitian migrant crisis project, you can reach ADRA Inter-America at interamerica.org or HERE.
This article was originally published on the Inter-American Division’s website