Kilber's Life is Different Because of You

Lush steep mountains skirt the Pan American highway as it snakes its way through southern Honduras headed south towards Nicaragua. This international route and its iconic name are well known throughout the region, a lasting and permanent reminder pointing the way north to "la USA". The beauty of these lush mountains hold their secrets tightly, secrets of a wealthy heritage that long ago was ripped from the land. When the Spanish left the region, a pitted and scarred earth along with a magnificent 16th century church were all that remained. For the past 200 years families have toiled, often in vain, as subsistence farmers. Long gone are the hopes of glory and wealth from the deep mines hidden under thick vegetation. The same weathered hands that once dug ore from deep tunnels in the mountains serve these farmers well today clearing thick jungle vegetation with a machete with hopes of a decent crop of beans.   

Over the past 200 years life hasn't changed much in this isolated region of southern Honduras. While advances in education, healthcare, and economic stability have reached many parts of Honduras they have evaded the region we refer to as the Other Side of the Mountain. These “modern luxuries” are still as hard to come by as a few flakes of gold in a cold mountain stream. In fact, very little has changed, those same calloused hands continue to clear thick vegetation year after year and the Lord’s prayer with a simple yet profound request, “give us today our daily bread” continues to be prayed.

Today, rather than wondering if it would be worthwhile to try their luck in a gold mine, their thoughts are occupied considering trying their luck at something else, immigrating north. The path is well marked and even paved. Today the idea of following the Pan American Highway north to a land of hope and opportunity is quite possibly more rewarding than the gold of Central America was to early Spanish explorers, even with all of its risks it's definitely more accessible.  

Year after year many families are risking their lives. They risk them trying to survive working the exhausted soil on steep mountain slopes that seem to produce less for their hard work every year.  In turn, taking a risk to travel north doesn’t seem that risky at all. That’s perhaps why so many are risking their lives choosing the dangerous journey north. It’s not because they want to leave but rather because they want to survive, or at least die trying.

Kilber’s family is no different. They want to survive. He comes from a long line of hard working men who’ve called these lush mountains home for generations. If it wasn’t for a unique opportunity he would have most likely joined the thousands of other young men who leave this region every year. Thousands of children aspire to finish the sixth grade but they can only dream of going to high school. They, nor their families, are not lazy, quite the contrary but it takes more than hard work and determination to be able to continue your education in this remote region where there are no secondary education opportunities.  

When Kilber’s mom learned about the Lazarus Academy and that there was open enrollment specifically for families in this remote region, she didn’t hesitate to make the hike to be present for an enrollment meeting. In spite of the sacrifice that Kilber would have to make each day to go to school he couldn’t wait to start. Even though Kilber would not be another 13 year old spending his days toiling under the sun, he would be working hard. His days begin early at 3 am to ensure that he has enough time to make the two hour hike to the dirt road that winds its way through the mountains. Here one of the mission’s four wheel drive Landcruisers turned “school bus” picks him up and it’s another hour long ride to school. The three plus hour journey is repeated once again every afternoon back home where he arrives just before sunset. A simple oil lamp flickers at the kitchen table as he completes his assignments that are due the next day.

While Kilber’s knowledge of algebra and history continues to grow, so does his faith in Christ. Kilber says, “We always knew about Jesus but our faith was not a part of our daily lives and now thanks to the Lazarus Academy it is!” Kilber’s education is holistic in focus with vocational training in a marketable skill being a key component. Kilber was excited when he was enrolled in the leatherworking school and in just a few years has already mastered many artisan skills.

Kilber’s education wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of many people. If Kilber is in school his father has one less hand to help plant, tend to, and harvest their corn and beans crops. Kilber’s early mornings mean that his mother’s day starts even earlier, fixing breakfast on her wood burning stove before he starts his daily journey. Kilber’s commitment to hard work in order to change both his and his family’s legacy is just one story of many. All of our 85 high school students have similar stories of hard work and sacrifice. All of them are chasing a dream. All of them are thankful for the opportunity that God has given them.  

We believe in empowering people. In spite of hardship the families we partner with have an innate, God given, desire to be a part of their own transformation. They are not looking for a handout; rather they are looking for an opportunity. Your financial support guarantees that young people like Kilber have an opportunity. Your financial support provides an opportunity to study, to be productive, to know Jesus, and to dream. What do they dream about? Making a difference for their families and the Kingdom, at home, in Honduras.