Honduras: Street kids victims of hurricane, poverty, politics FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 28 Nov 1998 17:07:48 -0400


--============_-1299835218==_ma============
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

*******************************************************
3,000+ posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>
*******************************************************

http://news.bbc.co.uk:80/hi/english/world/from_our_own_correspondent/newsid_=
2180
00/218060.stm
=46WD  BBC World News - Friday, November 20, 1998

STREET KID VICTIMS OF MITCH
Tom Gibb, BBC Correspondent in Honduras


I was in a refuge for street kids in the rundown centre of
Tegucigalpa when scruffy little nine-year-old Christian was brought
in. His story, rattled out in a continuous monotone, had me in tears.

He said he lived with his mother and 14 brothers and sisters in a
shack on the edge of the capital by the River Choluteca. Normally, it
is a smelly trickle of water frequented by clouds of vultures.

But the day of the hurricane, Christian described how the river
changed its character. A great wave swept down through the city.
Christian's house collapsed.

Without changing tone, he described how his mother's leg was shattered
before she disappeared in the flood. Brothers and sisters were all
carried away.

Christian went through their names. There was Luis, Maria,
=46rederico.....a long list. Only little Christian managed to struggle
ashore.

He spent the next two weeks sleeping in a wooden box. "I cried and
cried" he said. "I dreamed of my mammy".

A TV programme that moved the nation

That night, Christian went on local Honduran television. He broke
down in tears. So did half of the rest of the country. The TV station
was inundated with calls offering support.

He seemed to sum up what so many people have been through. It allowed
them to grieve. Perhaps I thought the tragedy might also force the
changes Honduras needs to prevent similar disasters in the future.
The story might have a happy ending.

Because the destruction of Hurricane Mitch was not just an act of
nature - the death of Carmalinda Bonmier's three daughters shows that.

Carmalinda was a survivor of the last big hurricane 24 years ago,
called Hurricane Fifi. Her house by the river was then washed away.
After spending months in a tent, she and others illegally occupied land
in the steep hills overlooking the city.

When the rains of Hurricane Mitch started, Caramalinda had gone into
town leaving her three smallest daughters with her grandfather.
=46iremen came to the house telling everyone to evacuate because of the
danger of mudslides. But her grandfather was stubborn and he refused.

Carmalinda came home to find the house buried under mud - the firemen
digging out the bodies of her daughters.

Cause of death: poverty

The simple answer is that Carmalinda's family should not have moved
there after Hurricane Fifi. Neither should hundreds of thousands of
others who have been living in the flood areas of Honduras' multitude
of rivers. But they are trapped by poverty and a mess of legal
corruption.

I saw it in the 1980s when Honduras was receiving hundreds of millions
of dollars of US aid - some of it designed to help people like
Carmalinda.

The trouble is that the Americans gave the money to buy support from
the ruling class in the army. They turned the country into a base for
Ronald Reagan's anti-communist crusade. It was political aid which
engendered corruption.

So just outside Tegucigalpa, there is actually a whole city of 3,500
empty houses. A rich speculator had bought the land close by the
source of the River Choluteca for almost nothing.

He then sold it to his friends in the state pension fund for 20 times
the price. The pension fund built the houses only to find that the
sewage would pollute the entire city's water supply. So for the last
nine years, the houses have been empty.

Better government needed

Honduras, I have been told by many Hondurans, does not only need aid
money now, it needs better government. To be fair, since US aid dried
up at the end of the Cold War, this has started to happen but it
still has a long way to go.

The lesson was brought home most strongly when I heard the truth of
little Christian's story. After bringing the nation to tears, he
admitted that in fact he had never had a home. He cannot remember his
mother. His father is in jail and he never had any brothers and
sisters.

He is one of hundreds of street kids sleeping rough in the market
area which was washed away in the flood. For 10 days he has
assimilated all the stories of death and destruction and he saw that
these made people care.

Christian wanted someone to care about him so he made up his own
story.

My first reaction was that he had been lying but on reflection he has
been merely repeating what a whole country has been through and the
root of his tragedy is the same.

Because of the poverty, Hurricane Mitch has left half a million
homeless. Because of the same poverty Christian has never had a home.

My only hope is that Christian is not sent back to the streets
because he cannot claim to be the victim of a natural disaster, only
a human one.

END FORWARD
-
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page
ARCHIVES  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN
TO JOIN  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <wgcp@earthlink.n=
et>
--============_-1299835218==_ma============
Content-Type: text/enriched; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

*******************************************************

3,000+ posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>

*******************************************************


http://news.bbc.co.uk:80/hi/english/world/from_our_own_correspondent/newsid_=
218000/218060.stm

=46WD  BBC World News - Friday, November 20, 1998


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>STREET KID VICTIMS OF MITCH

Tom Gibb, BBC Correspondent in Honduras=20

</paraindent>


I was in a refuge for street kids in the rundown centre of

Tegucigalpa when scruffy little nine-year-old Christian was brought

in. His story, rattled out in a continuous monotone, had me in tears.


He said he lived with his mother and 14 brothers and sisters in a

shack on the edge of the capital by the River Choluteca. Normally, it

is a smelly trickle of water frequented by clouds of vultures.=20


But the day of the hurricane, Christian described how the river

changed its character. A great wave swept down through the city.

Christian's house collapsed.=20


Without changing tone, he described how his mother's leg was shattered

before she disappeared in the flood. Brothers and sisters were all

carried away.=20


Christian went through their names. There was Luis, Maria,

=46rederico.....a long list. Only little Christian managed to struggle

ashore.=20


He spent the next two weeks sleeping in a wooden box. "I cried and

cried" he said. "I dreamed of my mammy".=20


A TV programme that moved the nation=20


That night, Christian went on local Honduran television. He broke

down in tears. So did half of the rest of the country. The TV station

was inundated with calls offering support.=20


He seemed to sum up what so many people have been through. It allowed

them to grieve. Perhaps I thought the tragedy might also force the

changes Honduras needs to prevent similar disasters in the future.

The story might have a happy ending.=20


Because the destruction of Hurricane Mitch was not just an act of

nature - the death of Carmalinda Bonmier's three daughters shows that.


Carmalinda was a survivor of the last big hurricane 24 years ago,

called Hurricane Fifi. Her house by the river was then washed away.

After spending months in a tent, she and others illegally occupied
land

in the steep hills overlooking the city.=20


When the rains of Hurricane Mitch started, Caramalinda had gone into

town leaving her three smallest daughters with her grandfather.

=46iremen came to the house telling everyone to evacuate because of the

danger of mudslides. But her grandfather was stubborn and he refused.


Carmalinda came home to find the house buried under mud - the firemen

digging out the bodies of her daughters.=20


Cause of death: poverty=20


The simple answer is that Carmalinda's family should not have moved

there after Hurricane Fifi. Neither should hundreds of thousands of

others who have been living in the flood areas of Honduras' multitude

of rivers. But they are trapped by poverty and a mess of legal

corruption.=20


I saw it in the 1980s when Honduras was receiving hundreds of millions

of dollars of US aid - some of it designed to help people like

Carmalinda.=20


The trouble is that the Americans gave the money to buy support from

the ruling class in the army. They turned the country into a base for

Ronald Reagan's anti-communist crusade. It was political aid which

engendered corruption.=20


So just outside Tegucigalpa, there is actually a whole city of 3,500

empty houses. A rich speculator had bought the land close by the

source of the River Choluteca for almost nothing.=20


He then sold it to his friends in the state pension fund for 20 times

the price. The pension fund built the houses only to find that the

sewage would pollute the entire city's water supply. So for the last

nine years, the houses have been empty.=20


Better government needed=20


Honduras, I have been told by many Hondurans, does not only need aid

money now, it needs better government. To be fair, since US aid dried

up at the end of the Cold War, this has started to happen but it

still has a long way to go.=20


The lesson was brought home most strongly when I heard the truth of

little Christian's story. After bringing the nation to tears, he

admitted that in fact he had never had a home. He cannot remember his

mother. His father is in jail and he never had any brothers and

sisters.=20


He is one of hundreds of street kids sleeping rough in the market

area which was washed away in the flood. For 10 days he has

assimilated all the stories of death and destruction and he saw that

these made people care.=20


Christian wanted someone to care about him so he made up his own

story.=20


My first reaction was that he had been lying but on reflection he has

been merely repeating what a whole country has been through and the

root of his tragedy is the same.=20


Because of the poverty, Hurricane Mitch has left half a million

homeless. Because of the same poverty Christian has never had a home.


My only hope is that Christian is not sent back to the streets

because he cannot claim to be the victim of a natural disaster, only

a human one.=20


END FORWARD

-

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is=
 distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in=
 receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. *=
*


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

--============_-1299835218==_ma============--