Organized by: Juan Hernandez Gonzalez
In Sergio I see a gift that I truly admire. The gift of looking inside himself, paying attention to his emotions and his circumstances, reflecting about his own life, and seeking to understand himself. That gift is allowing him to consider the options around him and ask for help.
When my nephew Sergio was just 2 years old, he was left alone each day in the small room his mother rented because with her meager income she couldn't afford to pay someone to care for him. My brother has never assumed the role of father to Sergio despite sharing a home with him and his mother all his life. When Sergio was a teenager he started using drugs and failing classes, and this created a lot of problems for him at home. After 7 years of rebellion against his parents, who, as he tells it, simply didn't give up on him, he got sober, and since then he's made an amazingly conscious effort to change his life. He finished high school--a great achievement considering neither of his parents finished 8th grade. He found a job in a wholesaler's import warehouse to earn some money to help his family. He took up competitive mountain biking which drew him into an entirely new group of healthy and supportive friends.
He's tried once to go to college, but without the support of both his parents he didn't have the money to continue full-time. He found another job, but left after 6 months because his co-workers, all related to each other, ganged up on him to foist most of the work on him and then repeatedly report him to the boss for failing to complete the job (a common problem in Honduras where mafia-like hiring practices are rampant). He's now taking only 1 class out of the 6 he'd need to progress on schedule, and he's been looking for work for the past 3 months with no success.
On my last trip to Honduras, Sergio asked to talk and shared with me the stress and frustration he feels of not being in school full-time and not being able to find work. He told me he's feeling depressed and lost in his thoughts, and he's fearful of being drawn back to drugs and to the streets. He knows he needs an outlet to keep him emotionally healthy. He told me that when he was recovering from his drug addiction, biking became a way for him to escape the noise and stress of his house and to recharge. But to get enough money to start college classes, he was forced to sell his bike. His request to me was for money to help him buy a bike, to give him back this healthy distraction. When I was a teenager in Sergio's neighborhood, I used to disappear for hours, taking old dirt roads out of the city into the mountains around Tegucigalpa. It was the only solitude I ever had, and Sergio's words really spoke to me. I've told him I will give $100 towards a new mountain bike, and Kim has also committed $100. The bike costs $420. In the spirit of caring for his well-being first, we'd like to first invite you to support Sergio with the remaining $220 he needs to get back to biking.
Sergio did not ask me for any additional financial support beyond the bike, but he did share his his ideas about his next steps in life. He is considering two options for his future--both with their benefits and risks. The first is to try again to pursue a college degree in customs administration. This brings with it the substantial challenge of resources and the discomfort of continuing to depend on his parents for a place to live, food to eat and other basic needs since the schedule of college classes makes it impossible to work. The second is to enter the police academy where he hopes to get an education and start a career that could lead later to a degree in criminal law. The police academy offers room and board and a small stipend while in training, followed by a strong guarantee of employment after graduation. In addition to various entrance exams, it also has some up-front costs and carries with it the difficulty of being away from family and friends for months at a time, but the biggest downside is the physical danger of police work in Honduras, and that it's not really what Sergio would pick as his first choice in career. To support Sergio through his first full year of college (calendar year 2016), we'd need to raise $1,500. To support him to enter the police academy Sergio will need $750. I'd like to see if we can pull together the full $1,500 so he can truly have both options open to him come December.
And in the meantime he is trying to stay sober and sane despite the difficult circumstances. Being able to return to his hobby would help in that regard.
Juan with writing help from Kim.