A Haitian migrant family smiles as they hold their groceries thanks to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Honduras which has provided assistance with their voucher program to more than 750 families in transit north through the Central American country. The assistance to migrant families who travel from South America has seen has been running for nearly six months at Choluteca and El Paraiso, bordering cities with Nicaragua. [Photo: ADRA Honduras]

March 31, 2022 | Tegucigalpa, Honduras | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News

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.

Hundreds stand in line at the immigration center in Danlí, El Paraiso, in Honduras. [Photo: ADRA Honduras]

Receiving assistance

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 that 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 to 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.

A group of migrants show off their voucher provided by ADRA Honduras before they are guided by volunteers to purchase their food and supplies before they head north to Guatemala. [Photo: ADRA Honduras]

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.”

A couple of people rest after arriving in Honduras on their quest north. [Photo: ADRA Honduras]

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 heart breaking,” 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 12 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 robed and abandoned,” said Tabora. Many are disoriented and somehow find their way to the next border, he added.

There are many sad stories, Tabora said. Providing the assistance that ADRA is offering to so many that are left with nothing is making a difference, he added.

Rony Tabora, ADRA Honduras program coordinator stands next to a Haitian migrant family as go through a grocery store in Danlí, El Paraiso, Honduras. [Photo: ADRA Honduras]

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 cities.

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,” he said.

One of the hydration stands available to migrants in transit through Choluteca, a bordering city in Honduras with Nicaragua. [Photo: ADRA Honduras]

“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 and/or HERE

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