Every year, Loras College offers a mission trip for students to travel to Honduras during spring break in order to give back. While there, students help construct homes and meet with the community. Many students credit this as a life-changing experience, and still try to find ways to support those who touched their lives in Honduras.
One of the places Loras visits is a school called APUFRAM. This is an acronym for Association of Franciscan Boys Towns and Girls Towns (when translated in English). This is a not-for-profit school for the poorest children in Honduras who would otherwise not be able to afford an education.
According to APUFRAM’s website, only 43 percent of those who begin first grade will complete the sixth grade. Out of those who finish sixth grade, even fewer continue on to secondary school. This startling statistic shows the need for Fr. Emil Cook and the volunteers at APUFRAM.
Fr. Emil began his time in Honduras back in the 1970s. After experiencing the struggles of the Honduran people, specifically children, he and a few others began APUFRAM in 1986. During most summers, he travels through the United States fundraising for this organization. He made a stop at Loras College on Thursday, Sept. 14.
This presentation in the Spiritual Life office started with an introduction of APUFRAM and how it got started. Then the attendees watched a video about APUFRAM, which was stopped occasionally for Fr. Emil to explain the program.
“We want to work with people, not for people … It gives them dignity and reminds them they’re a thought of God.”
Students at APUFRAM are sponsored by donations. It takes about four sponsors to fund one student. There are different homes and facilities for all ages and levels. The students of APUFRAM do not owe anything when they graduate. They live by the motto, “God, Study, Work.” Each of them earns their way through various jobs and trades that they learn in school. They also attend Catholic Mass every Sunday in order to grow in their relationship with God.
Like any non-profit, the need for support is crucial for the organization to stay open and grow.
“The biggest thing is to provide financial support, not just from us necessarily. But talk to your parish at home or people on Facebook and encourage them to donate,” said Criminal Justice professor, Valerie Bell.
There are several ways to get involved. One is to sponsor a child for $30 a month. Another is to donate school supplies and clothes. Finally, continue to watch for fundraising opportunities for the Loras group this year.