THE CURRENT PROBLEM
Grace Honduras students show these different traits in their quality of life: extreme poverty (defined as one with more than three unsatisfied basic needs), prenatal abuse (without any care or medical attention during pregnancy), exposure to lead, arsenic & mercury at ages where the organism is undergoing development of the nervous system, constant diseases in the respiratory and gastric system, carelessness in dental
care (almost all teeth are decayed), malnutrition, parasites, anemia, family disintegration, abandonment, lack of affection from their parents, witnesses of domestic violence, victims of physical, emotional, sexual violence. As if that were not enough, being the sons and daughters of members of the gang that controls the place, exposes them to be part of illegal activities and drug use, all this causes chronic stress.
Being a child in this cluster of abnormal situations and not having developed sufficient psychological resources to help them face these situations, causes great disadvantages in their physical and emotional health, added to the time they spend working in the garbage will lead to a consequence of persistent brain damage, even in adult life.
The children that Grace Honduras serves have a neurocognitive and psychological profile with problems of attention, memory, language, intellectual development, executive functions, a tendency to develop personality disorders, lack of impulse control, aggressiveness, and anxiety-depressive symptoms.
This quality of life disrupts neurodevelopmental processes and conditions the brain as it matures, leading to cognitive deficits, which affect brain processes such as neurogenesis, myelination, synaptogenesis, and neuronal pruning; and brain damage to the hippocampus, amygdala, cerebellum, corpus callosum, hypothalamus, and cerebral cortex. (Alejandro Amores-Villalba & Mateos-Mateos, 2017)
Therefore, students reflect a predisposition to develop learning disorders such as Dyslexia (difficulty in reading), Dysgraphia (difficulty in writing), Dyscalculia (difficulty in understanding mathematics) and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
Alejandro Amores-Villalba, & Mateos-Mateos, R. (2017). Review of the neuropsychology of child abuse: The neurobiology and neuropsychological profile of victims of abuse in childhood. Elsevier Spain, Official College of Psychologists of Madrid, Educational Psychology 23 (2017) 81–88. www.elsevier.es/psed
American Psychiatric Association. (2014). Reference guide to the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria: Vol. V (V). American Psychiatric Publishing. www.psych.org
We serve 200 students from preschool to ninth grade, between the ages of 3 and 45, all workers from the Sanitary Landfill. We are certified by Alfasic de Honduras in elementary school and IHER for high school.
Nevertheless, students at Grace reflect a predisposition to develop learning disorders, this is why we have a dynamic and different curriculum for all of our school, emphasizing reading fluency and comprehension, writing codification, graphomotricity, and composition and in math, numeration, arithmetic calculation, and problem-solving. This is alongside motricity activities, cognitive development tasks, sensory activities. We promote directed games to develop creativity, curiosity, and lower stress levels.
SOME OF OUR EDUCATIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS
1.) Our student Eidy has completed her Bachelor's Degree in Marketing with an orientation in Promotion and Publicity at CEUTEC University in July 2020. Daniela finished her bachelor's in Psychology in December 2021. Being our first girls that came out of the dump with a Bachelors's degree.
2.) In 2022 we have begun our first group of ninth-graders.
3.) This year Jennifer López, 18 years old, will begin her freshman year in university, she receives a small offering for working as a preschool assistant and assisting in administrative work.
4.) We are actively working to transform the Preschool level, from the physical space, adapt thematic corners, designing according to Honduras Education Ministry, using multisensory methodologies to provide a long-term effect into knowledge receptiveness in the child.
In addition, we began to research the Montessori Method, and little by little we will use this material, adapting ourselves with the resources that we have. We have 32 children in Preschool.
5.) We serve teenagers and adults who have worked their entire lives in the garbage dump. We teach everything, from how to hold a pencil, use a computer, etc. We work on building your self-esteem and identity, to discover their academic abilities and aptitudes, taking into consideration the development of multiple intelligences.
6.) The Pineda siblings show motor skills and cognitive difficulty, results have been slow but we continue with more activities to strengthen their motricity, with a mixed curriculum, to help them develop their coordination, logical-mathematical skills, visual perception, and executive functions.
Josué with 22 years, never had taken a pencil before, he has a developmental coordination disorder 315.4 (F82), moderate intellectual development disorder 318.0 (F71). His whole life has been garbage.
Josué with his 2 brothers have two special teachers just for them and we teach them a parallel curriculum. We also help them with psychological tools to get past the physical and psychological abuse they suffered
7.) In our school in addition to our students, their parents are also studying with us and enrollment continues to grow in 2022. This shows us that the community trusts us and there is a genuine change in their ways of thinking.
8.) We changed the garbage dump for the classrooms and we managed to prevent children like Eddy from becoming members of the gang that controls the site. Asides from providing a stable job for his mother in Grace, plus building a home for the family.