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About Us

How We Started (History of Little Hands Big Hearts)

Where We Live

How We Started (History of Little Hands Big Hearts)

Known in Honduras by its Spanish name, Manos Chicas, Corazones Grandes this ministry was started in 1996 when baby Jose was given to Amber Young, the college-age daughter of Brenda and Mark Young, who directed the Mision del Caribe summer Journey camp that year. Brenda escorted a group of teens from the Pacific Northwest to the Journey camp that summer. During the time she was in Trujillo, she bonded with Jose caring for him 24 hours a day with the help of many of the teenage campers. The local hospital and orphanages in Honduras refused to help Jose because of his multiple needs — clubfeet and Down syndrome. Fortunately, the Lord opened the hearts of a Christian family in La Ceiba who took and cared for Jose for six years.

During that summer, God planted a seed in the hearts of the Youngs, that if there was one special needs child like Josecito, there were probably many others. On subsequent visits, the Youngs discovered that many poor families kill or hide their disabled children. In a society with much poverty, the weak usually don’t survive in a “survival of the fittest culture”. A few families who kept their disabled children inspired the Youngs to want to share their stories of love with other families of “special” children.

In subsequent years, the Youngs helped two children, Jose and Samantha, receive needed medical surgeries in the States because their types of surgeries could not be done in Honduras. What the Youngs discovered was that helping these children in this way was not only very expensive and time-consuming, but also not the best for the families of these little ones to be separated during this important bonding period.

Instead, the Youngs decided to move to Trujillo in 2002 to work with the local churches, clinics, and schools to help aid families in distress by sharing the love of Jesus with them. Today, Manos Chicas, Corazones Grandes is “dedicated to empowering the indigenous church and sharing the Good News of Jesus with needy children and their families in Honduras.” This mission statement drives the work and activities of this ministry as it operates out of the former Children’s Home of Trujillo in Jericó (about one and one-half mile west of Trujillo’s El Centro). This facility is now called the Family Development Center (Centro de Desarrollo Familiar).

The Good Samaritan House is the mission house where the Honduran directors live and administer the ministry. This house serves as a private residence, as well as, welcomes Christian Hondurans serving God and other visitors for meals and overnight accommodations. Groups, up to fourteen people, can be accommodated in the dormitory at the FDC or arrangements can be made for accommodations at a local hotel.

Manos Chicas, Corazones Grandes ​started out under the sponsorship of the Westside Church of Christ, which was later transitioned to the Summit View Church of Christ, and then in 2014, the oversight of MCCG moved the LHBH Foundation [a 501(c)(3) organization, board bios linked here (officers) and here (non-officers)]. This Foundation, with its dedicated servant leaders, is only made successful because of the faithful supporters all across the United States who are committed to helping others. Please consider joining us in this good work.

Where We Live (About Honduras)

Honduras is one of the five Central American countries that form the isthmus of Central America. The early colonizers began their periodic penetrations into Honduras shortly after Columbus’ discovery of the New World. Officially, Spain ruled Honduras with the inauguration of the port of Trujillo in the 16th century. What the Spanish found on their arrival in Honduras was an untamed mountainous wilderness partially populated by a host of Indian tribes. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the Spaniards more or less controlled the government of Honduras. Spanish rule was conditioned by periodic conquests of ports on the north coast by the English. Trujillo and Cortez were both in the hands of the English at various times during these years. In fact, the Bay Islands of Honduras today reflects its English settlement, because English is the first-language on the islands.

The Indians of Honduras put up periodic resistance to the arrival of the Spanish. Chief Lempira, a great Honduran leader, led an Indian resistance that in 1530 was defeated and Lempira was treacherously assassinated. His death disbanded and disorganized the some 30,000 Indians that he had so successfully commanded. Lempira today still remains a symbol of Honduran courage and liberty. The money in Honduras is called lempiras, in honor of Chief Lempira.

The only Indians which still today maintain something of a culture and a language of their own are the “Zambo” or the “Moskita” Indians of the Mosquito Coast. The Moskitos played various roles in the wars between the English and Spanish; nonetheless, they have survived to the present era with much the same culture and practices as were first recorded centuries ago.

Columbus first set foot on the mainland of Central America near the town of Trujillo in 1502. For the next fifty years, the Spaniards battled disease, the Indians, and pirates. Almost 90% of the indigenous people were wiped out during this time. The Spanish settled in Trujillo, but soon became interested in the cooler highlands. They established a new capital at Comayagua in 1537, which remained the political and religious center of the country for 350 years, until Tegucigalpa was made the capital in 1880.

In the early 1600’s, piracy flourished in the Caribbean and along the coastline of Honduras. The Dutch and English buccaneers were attracted to the coast by the stands of mahogany and brought black settlers from Jamaica, Africa, and other Caribbean islands to harvest the timber. They used the Bay Islands as a base from which they staged many raids on the gold-laden Spanish galleons. Every settlement the Spaniards created was sacked repeatedly. The shallow reefs surrounding the islands provided shelter from the vicious Caribbean storms and the deep-draft Spanish ships. Following an appeal by the Moskito Indians, British protectorate was declared over the coastal region extending from Honduras into Nicaragua. This lasted until 1859, when the area was returned to Honduras. The British, however, had established permanent settlements on the islands where even today many of the Bay Islanders are fair-skinned descendants of these pirates. Legends of buried treasure abound.

Development lagged behind that of its neighbors and on gaining independence in 1821, Honduras was the poorest country in the region. Honduras became one of the five members of the Central American Republic, and finally in 1838 declared its independence as a separate nation. Since then power has alternated between factions. There have been numerous coups and rebellions since independence, including the invasion by the American William Walker, whose 1860 attempt to take over Central America ended with defeat, capture, escape, recapture, and eventually killed by firing squad in Trujillo at Fort Santa Barbara. His grave is located in the Trujillo cemetery near the public market.

Although Walker failed to take control of Honduras, U.S. fruit companies succeeded. United Fruit (Chiquita) and Standard Fruit (Dole) came to dominate the banana market where both wielded tremendous power throughout the country. Bananas were the biggest industry in Honduras for years and for a time Honduras was the leading producer in the world. The phrase “Banana Republic” was originally used in reference to Honduras. Bananas accounted for two-thirds of all exports in 1913, making the companies extremely powerful players in Honduran politics. Each company allied themselves with domestic political factions, and the rivalries between the fruit companies shaped Honduran politics in the first half of the 20th century.

Honduras and El Salvador had a brief war in 1969 known as the “Soccer War”. The war, which took place after a World Cup soccer match between the two countries, was sparked by the alleged mistreatment of Salvadoran immigrants in Honduras. It lasted less than five days but soured relations for years between the two countries and their peoples.

In the last 25 years of the 20th century, Honduras was tainted with political problems of its neighbors, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. The strife never spilled over the borders, but tourism dwindled to nothing. The U.S. military had an “advisor presence” in the country during this time. Even the airport in Trujillo was built by the U.S. Air Force to land large supply planes. Today there is peace throughout the region.

Honduras held its first “free” elections in 1984 and has since moved toward a democratic civilian government. The president is elected every four years and can only serve only one four-year term. The congress has representatives from each of the 18 departments (states). Recent problems included government graft, unemployment (40%) economic imbalance, falling exports, growing public debt (88%), and a shrinking gross national product. The average Honduran has a yearly income of only $660 making it the third poorest country in the Western Hemisphere after Haiti and Cuba. It has a strong military and its presence is seen throughout the country. It is not uncommon to be stopped along the highway by the military to be “checked”. Aid from the U.S. has shrunk in recent years, while trade with Europe has doubled that of the U.S. Honduras still is vulnerable to price fluctuations of banana and coffee prices. Tourism is a small but growing piece of the Honduras economy. Last year over 800,000 tourists visited Honduras (see www.Honduras.com).

The People
About 69% of the total population of over 6 million people, form a landed peasantry. They mostly live in rural areas, though in recent years many migrated to the larger cities in the hope for jobs that never materialized. There is a noticeable difference right away when you see the landless campesinos on one end of the class system and the wealthy landholders on the other. In between these two classes is a very small, but gradually growing middle class of professionals, business owners, and government workers. These social classes are complicated and often are determined by a number of variables including family genealogy, wealth, occupation, education, place of birth and skin color.

Mestizos, the name given to people of Spanish and Indian ancestry, represent about 90% of the total population. Another 8% are Garifuna or “Black Caribes” whose descendants migrated from other black colonies. The balance of the population is composed of European, Chinese or North Americans. Both the Spanish and Indians influences are separate and culturally different, yet through the years of blending and intermarriage a surprising integration has taken place.

The social class system in Honduras is similar to that found in other parts of Latin America and Spain. The family name, money, education, and property are extremely important to a man in one of the social hierarchies. The treatment of the poor by the rich, or the uneducated by the educated would be a little shocking to most North Americans. Positions in buses, in movie theatres, and sometimes in churches are established by a person’s visible or known reputation. This is gradually changing as people become more concerned about human rights.

The Family
The family forms the structural point of Honduran society and to the large extent, it is a close knit, economically interdependent unit. In the country, all members of the household play at least some part in keeping the family unit alive. The child from age of five and up no longer is seen to be purely dependent on others. Rather, he is a contributor with clearly defined roles and obligations with the family, whether it is bringing jars full of water from the river or fetching the kindling from the nearby woods or jungle. Whenever the father is found in the home, he is considered the central figure and symbol of authority. However, in many cases the father is absent from the home making the mother the person upon whom the household depends. Her lot is a burdensome one, in which children are born almost with the frequency of the annual corn crop. The woman must care for her children, her home, her arduous daily chore of making tortillas and the equally tedious job of washing the family clothes in the nearest river. Because of this, the matriarch has strong ties to her children and grandchildren. Mother’s Day is a major national celebration, where Father’s Day is just another day on the calendar.

From the very beginning of life, a child is brought into contact with a family that includes more than mother, father, brothers, and sister. Depending upon the family’s financial situation, any number of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins might also share the tiny space within the home. The early care of the baby is a permissive one in which he generally is permitted to grow without interference. Discipline seems to be imposed on the child less from his parents than from nature. The acceptance of a certain amount of responsibility becomes necessary for his very survival. This is internalized before he reaches the age of reason.

Health Care
Medical and health care in Honduras has been slow in coming. This has been due to the economic insulation and limited educational facilities. For a host of reasons, improvements in health care and health education are now being seen through the development and expansion of government hospitals, health centers, and clinics. Programs of health education are written into annual plans of the ministry of health and occasionally are put into practice. This naturally will have its effects on modifying current beliefs and practices that have been propagated through the local curanderos and self-appointed medical experts of the community.

Religion
The chief religion of Honduras, as is true in other Latin American countries, is Roman Catholic. Much of the earlier Honduran history was written in many ways by the Catholic missionaries from Spain. While most Latinos today would call themselves Catholic, fewer than 20% practice their religion and fewer than 20% of the Catholic church personnel are Hondurans. In the last 40 years, there has been tremendous growth of evangelicals in Honduras with almost 20% of the population now claiming to be Christians.

The Iglesia de Cristo was first formed in La Ceiba over 25 years ago and now there are over 40 congregations throughout the country. Many of them are very small and struggle to maintain their faith and grow, as God would have them do. One of the great challenges now of the indigenous church is to develop its own leadership and teachers. The Baxter Institute of Biblical and Cultural Studies in Tegucigalpa and the Escuela Biblica Honduras (EBH) have made tremendous contributions to the growth of the church in Honduras. In addition, a number of health care centers, schools, community centers, community development programs, and outreach ministries have been instituted to serve as Christian examples of service to humanity.

Education
In a country where over 65% of the people are illiterate, education is a treasured commodity, even though it doesn’t always make for dedicated students. Some sources quote a 73% literacy rate (read and write at a second grade level). Honduras has compulsory education in escuela for children up through grade 6, but many of the poorest children do not attend school because of the cost of uniforms, supplies and books. About 12% of the students who finish grade 6 go on to collegio (3 year equivalent to middle school). About 15% of those graduates go on to some form of “higher education” which may be a trade school, nursing school, teacher’s college, business college, or agriculture college for two or three years. If their intention is to go to the university then they must attend bachillerato for two years. After graduating from bachiller (equivalent to U.S. high schools) then they may qualify to go to Universidad (equivalent to U.S. colleges and universities). Fewer than 2% of Hondurans ever go to Universidad.

Major Population Centers
There are two major cities in Honduras—Tegucigalpa is the nation’s capitol and has about a million people and San Pedro Sula (population 635,000) is the commercial center for the country because of its proximity to the major shipping port, Puerto Cortez. Many factories and warehouses operate out of San Pedro Sula. Honduras has 18 international free zones (ZIPS) which enable international companies to come and set up business operations at a very low cost to take advantage of the vast labor pool. Other large cities include La Ceiba, Tela, Choluteca, Cortez, and Juticalpa. About 43% of the population lives in urban areas and 57% live in rural portions of the country, often isolated from needed services. Much of western Honduras is mountainous and much of eastern Honduras is flat and tropical. The weather can vary dramatically from Tegucigalpa to Trujillo.

Transportation
Most international visitors to Honduras come by air to one of four international airports in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and Roatan (one of the Bay Islands). Rental cars are available but are very expensive and driving in Honduras can be hazardous. In most towns, big and small, you can travel from place to place by taxi inexpensively.

Most people in Honduras travel by bus. The buses vary from old school buses called “chicken buses” to modern, air-conditioned diesel buses with reclining seats and television screens. Big vehicles like buses and semi-trucks have the right-of-way on all roads, then cars, then bicycles, and then people. Do not expect a Honduran driver to get out of your way. It is your responsibility to move.

There are two major shipping ports in Puerto Cortez, near San Pedro Sula and Puerto Castilla, near Trujillo. Other small ports exist in the Caribbean coastal towns of La Ceiba and Tela, and San Lorenzo on the Pacific and Puerto Lempira on the Mosquito Coast.

Language
The official language is Spanish. English is spoken by some people on the north coast, but one should not expect to find many people speaking English outside of the tourist hotels and areas. Spanish is the Romance language spoken by over 336 million people in over 19 countries of the world, including all of Latin America, except Brazil and Belize. English is the spoken language of the Bay Islands of Honduras.

Where We Live (About Trujillo)

The region of Colón
Colón is one of the 18 departments (or states) of Honduras. Trujillo is the capital of Colón, like La Ceiba is the capital of Atlantida department. That means that for people to conduct governmental business they must visit Trujillo. In addition, Trujillo is the shipping home of Standard Fruit (Dole) Company so a major container yard exists at Puerto Castilla. A common site on the roads leading to and from Trujillo are Doles, large semi-trucks with D-O-L-E painted on the sides. These carry fruit from the fields to the containers bringing bananas and pineapples that end up in U.S. fruit bowls and your kitchen table.

Trujillo
The city of Trujillo has a rich and storied history. Forte Santa Barbara, built in the 16th century, still stands today as a reminder that this was once a “safe harbor” for Spanish galleon ships carrying gold and other resources back to Spain. Pirates soon discovered that these Spanish “big ships” would retreat to the Bay of Trujillo for safety during bad weather in the Caribbean Sea. The pirates would close off the entrance to the open sea and attack the Spanish galleons. The king of Spain ordered the fort to be built and the cannons constructed so that they could keep the harbor open. Today the thick walls, large cannons, and jailed dungeon are reminders of the adventures of bygone years. The fort has recently completed a major facelift and renovation to enhance its role as a tourist highlight.

As with most Honduran cities, Trujillo is built around a town square or plaza or parque. The major businesses, police station, banks, library, community center, bandstand, and transportation center all are close to el centro. Like many towns in Honduras, Trujillo is composed of a number of barrios (neighborhoods) or colonias. Trujillo has about eight barrios that include Buenos Aires, El Centro, Cristales, Eduardo Castillo, Rio Negro, Jericó, Cocalito, and Castilla. Many of these neighborhoods have their own churches, schools, and stores.

Other Christians Ministries
A number of other Christian ministries operate in and around the Trujillo area. One of the oldest organizations is Escuela Biblica Honduras better known as EBH (Hondurans Bible School). It is the mission of this organization to foster the growth and development of the Lord’s church in Honduras by teaching and training national church workers. It has operated out of Catacamas for more than 15 years. The Baxter Institute of Biblical and Cultural Studies is physically located in Tegucigalpa, but it reaches all across Honduras with its preaching student body and its CELO correspondence course. Periodic campaigns led by preaching students greatly aid the growth of the church in Honduras. Mission PREDISAN has operated its preaching and healing ministry in Catacamas and the Olancho department since 1986. Today PREDISAN’s health care programs reach far and wide benefiting thousands of poor, addicted, and rural Hondurans.

Mision del Caribe began its community development projects in Trujillo in 1992 and built the Journey camp called La Trinidad. It was this camp where hundreds of North American teenagers and college students over ten years had their lives challenged and changed. The camp conducted two-week work camp sessions during the summers and other retreat opportunities throughout the year. After Hurricane Mitch hit Honduras in October 1998, Mision del Caribe became a leader in organizing and conducting relief and rebuilding efforts. From that effort came the Mision del Caribe Clinica Medica operated by two Christian Honduran physicians and was administered by the International Health Care Foundation. It was closed in 2002 after the tragic death of one of the doctors. The base of operation for Mision del Caribe moved to Catacamas from Trujillo in November, 2002.

Asocride began operating as a Christian school in Buenos Aires offering its quality education to Trujillo’s poorest children, those who could not afford to attend public school. Today Asocride has four buildings and educates over 300 children in grades K-9. Known as the Trujillo Christian School (www.trujillocs.org), it is now under the oversight of the West Metro Church of Christ in Hiram, Georgia Jack Odum of Nashville began the Children’s Home of Trujillo, known as Amigos de los Niños, in 1988. It served hundreds of children who needed love, compassion, and a place to call home. In 2001 a transition plan was agreed upon whereby the facilities and property of the Children’s Home would revert to Manos Chicas, Corazones Grandes. On January 1, 2003 this transition occurred and the facilities have undergone renovation for other uses as the Family Development Center. These facilities play host to a sewing school for women, a pre-teen character-building program where honesty, integrity, responsibility, sexuality can be taught in a Christian framework, a developmental preschool for children with disabilities who receive no educational opportunities within the public schools, and a raised-bed gardening program where people can learn the benefits of growing their own produce in these specialized gardens. These programs will succeed with the help and encouragement from loving people in North America who want to “help Hondurans learn to help themselves.” This ministry is committed to encouraging the personal growth and development of their own skills and not build a dependency on help and things from North America.