Sometimes a woman can achieve a lot for herself and her family if she can get some support during a crucial time. NPH Honduras promotes initiatives that help women to reach their potential through various programs. One of these is an NPH child daycare center (CCID in Spanish) called “Pasos Pequeñitos,’’ which means “little steps”. It has produced many success stories, with Adelaida Velásquez’s story being a positive example.
Adelaida has always fought to improve her life. However, she became a single mother raising her child. In fact, 23 percent of the total Honduran population was raised by single mothers, according to the Honduran National Institute of Statistics. Her life changed twelve years ago with the birth of Leonardo*, her first child. Single mothers often face many challenges, but despite these, Adelaida was able to improve her economic situation with lots of hard work during the four years after her son’s birth. However, work obligations forced Adelaida to delay her dream of obtaining a high school diploma to obtain an even better job. She realized that she needed some support to be able to continue with her education.
“I found out that Pasos Pequeñitos was a place that could take care of my son while I worked,” Adelaida says with a smile. “Leonardo* was so happy there that when I left for work in the mornings, he stayed calm, never asking me to stay home as he had before. The staff were very special and always understood me.” Leonardo* spent four and a half years at Pasos Pequeñitos, a time for which she is very grateful.
“At first, we simply called it a nursery,” recalls Digyana Hernández, the director of the Pasos Pequeñitos CCID. “It is actually a daycare center, one that goes beyond offering just basic childcare. This is a space that focuses on early childhood education, where the basic national curriculum is integrated. We record and track how each child progresses and develops, allowing us to understand the level where the child should be. This allows Pasos Pequeñitos to provide each child with special individualized care. At the time when Adelaida belonged to our family, this vision for the program was beginning to broaden. However, the COVID pandemic led to a temporary closure of the program, but we are preparing for when we can open once again, getting ready to begin a new chapter,” she adds.
In 2016, Pasos Pequeñitos began a program to support mothers who wanted to study, states Marcia Cruz, a teacher at the CCID. She admires Adelaida’s courage in deciding to take advantage of this support program, recognizing it as an opportunity to change her own life and her son’s. “She managed to study for her high school equivalency degree for adults thanks to our resources that helped to cover her transportation costs and academic materials. Thanks to the program’s support, after Adelaida graduated, she got a better job and improved her children’s possibilities,” concludes Marcia.
Nowadays, Adelaida has a job in logistics at an international organization and is the loving mother of two boys- Leonardo*, who is now 12 and five-year-old Hector*. She still remembers how years ago she got up early to drop off young Leonardo* at the daycare center before going to work. Adelaida saw that her little boy was having fun when she dropped by Pasos Pequeñitos to pick him up on her way home after work. At night, after spending some time with Leonardo*, Adelaida would then turn to her homework, often studying until 1 a.m. “It’s been worth all my effort. I’m so grateful to Pasos Pequeñitos because I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help. They taught me many things in the meetings for mothers, several ways to take better care of my son. I cannot put my gratitude into words, their support opened many opportunities for me during a time of hardship,” says an emotional Adelaida through her tears.
Now a teenager, Leonardo* recalls and admires his mother’s efforts back when he was little. “I used to tell myself that she is the one who helps us to study, she provides us with food. My mother made so many sacrifices to meet our needs. I am so grateful to my mom and Pasos Pequeñitos for teaching me so much. I didn’t know the alphabet when I first arrived there, but they taught me to read little by little. Then I learned about colors and math, even the songs that they used to play for us on a cellphone,” says Leonardo*.
Digyana Hernández, Pasos Pequeñitos’ director, explains how they have been preparing for their upcoming reopening. One way is by offering extra training to their entire team of collaborators, particularly the tutors who work with at-risk mothers. Another way they took advantage of this period of forced closure was by moving to a more adequate facility. “The moving process has been long, something that began in April 2021. It will be worth it when we reopen in our own space, in a building located in the Altamira neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. Every part has been remodeled into a free space where each child can develop holistically. We will be able to care for 20 children, which means that 20 mothers will be supported through this initiative. The tutoring area will offer several teachers supported by five young people from communities that belong to the Amigos de la Educación, another program that benefits the youth. We will undoubtedly make a great team,” Digyana concludes.
Pasos Pequeñitos is opening its doors again at the end of September 2021, beginning a new era in which many single mothers will be able to begin writing a new life story. Would you like to support them in their quest? Visit NPH Honduras.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy of minors.