When we talk about La Frontera (the southern part of Intibuca we work in), it is a country zone with a lot of offline places. Not only are the towns very small, but around them between the forest are many even smaller villages where each house is located miles from the next. Farming kids follow their dreams of creating a better future for their families by walking long ways to attend their schools, and with every step, they come closer to pursuing their goals in life.
The entire town of Camasca captured in one picture.
In these places, even getting a phone signal is challenging. This year as everybody knows, COVID-19 is causing a lot of problems all around the world. In Honduras, schools have been closed since March. The Ministry of Education’s idea is to continue classes online, which to some extent is good. We know there is a lot of free content available on the internet, but very often those who need it the most can't even get access to that. For many of our students in La Frontera, getting a phone signal can be challenging and even more an internet connection. Families struggling to buy food know that purchasing data is out of their reach or becomes a hassle because it’ll only work after walking to a further spot.
Laura, a 7th grader, and her grandmother picking up a tablet so she can study from home
Joel is eager to continue his 8th-grade curriculum offline, from home.
In order for CREE to help these students continue learning, we deployed more than 60 grant tablets from Learning Equality and the U.S. Embassy loaded with Kolibri. Which include the curriculum materials needed for their Spanish, mathematics, natural science, history, and English subjects, along with a library holding more than 100 public domain titles. This offline learning opportunity is providing high-quality educational material. It is equipping students who are hungry for learning thus, step by step getting closer to their goals.
Difficulties push people to strategize for new solutions, and living through a pandemic in rural Honduras is a challenge. Each municipal entrance has a police checkpoint and we can only travel freely once every two weeks. It is almost impossible to get together in small groups since only those with the corresponding day’s digit can travel.
Nevertheless, our Shoulder to Shoulder team continues searching for opportunities to keep providing a STEM education in the south of Intibucá. Long hours of logistics, many phone calls, three police checkpoints, and getting wet in the rain was what it took to also successfully deliver four Lego kits this past month - another opportunity for offline learning.
Coaches and the municipal director from Santa Lucía receiving their Lego kits.
Before the pandemic started, coaches and students were excited for the upcoming third regional lego robotics competition. After three months of lockdown their hopes of still participating had been lost, although the energy and the spirit of learning remained. This is what motivated us to do everything humanly possible to deliver Lego kits to different municipalities even during the pandemic. The youth from these towns have been hard at work seeking permission allowing them to meet in groups of 3-5 students and have finally succeeded! With the possibilities of a regional competition being low we know now that none of the teams are preparing to participate in this year's competition, they are preparing themselves to obtain knowledge that will allow them to be competitive in this world!
Coaches from Santa Lucia covering the lego kits before being fumigated at the police checkpoint.
As a shoulder to shoulder team we have the challenge of minimizing the negative impact that this pandemic is having on education. We have to take advantage of the limited opportunities to accelerate and continue improving learning among youth in La Frontera. Especially with those students going through precarious difficulties on a daily basis, who are dreamers that with a little sparkle of hope will follow their dreams.