Caso Orphans in the Storm: Family Life Missions and Hurricane Mitch
Hurricane Mitch, which hit the South American coastline in 1998, was not the “Storm of the Century.” It was much worse thanthat—the worst storm in the Western Hemisphere since 1780 and the second worst in recorded history. It killed approximately 20,000 people. About 11,000 died during the storm itself and another 9,000 frominjury, illness, and malnutrition in the aftermath. The storm hit hardest in Honduras, where Family Life Missions, a U.S.-based foundation, operates Por Los Ninos (PLN), an orphanage that educates,nourishes, and cares for Honduran orphans. PLN tries to create lives for the orphans that are as close as possible to growing up in an ordinary Honduran household. To that end, PLN operates houses staffedwith two ‘parents’ and populated by ten orphans. PLN’s purpose is clear: to help the orphans become productive citizens in their own country. The operation is small but expanding, expanding in partbecause of Hurricane Mitch. PLN is located in Catacamas, an interior town that was hard hit by the storm, which washed out the only bridge across a substantial gorge. The bridge was part of the 80% ofthe Honduran infrastructure destroyed by Mitch. Some whole villages were washed or blown away. In others, by the time help arrived, everyone was dead. The help simply could not get there because theroads and bridges were gone, and there were not enough helicopters to go around. “I was there immediately before the storm and again about three months after. The devastation was incredible. The only waythey could get supplies for a while was by helicopter, so there wasn’t nearly enough for everyone. At first, even the helicopters had to land 25 miles away. Fortunately, with emergency response helpfrom the U.S. and other countries, the country has been able to get on its feet again,” said Fred Taylor, a retired professor and a volunteer with Family Life Missions. “Also, fortunately, the...
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