Honduras ranks as the second poorest country in Central America and is the top 15 worldwide. There is an estimated 60% of the population that currently lives beneath the poverty line. Just outside of the capital city of Tegucigalpa, a community of roughly 1,500 adults and 300 children fight to survive by rummaging through a mountain of garbage in order to make a living. Their goal is to find anything that can be used and/or recycled. On average, one adult working 12-15 hours a day can earn $3 - $5 and a child can earn $1 - $2.
In 2001, 5 year old Chris Romero and her father made a trip to the dump to deposit the trash from a medical brigade. While in the dump, Chris asked, “What are all these people doing up here?” Her father did not pay a great deal of attention to the question, but over time, God began to speak more deliberately to him. After several trips to the dump, the question changed. With time, she began asking, “Daddy, do you think there is something that you can do for the people.” That was the moment that his eyes were opened to the reality that was in front of him. He now knew that God was speaking to him through his daughter and that it was now up to him to respond.
Even though it was clear that their family was to begin working in the dump, they were not exactly sure what that would entail. The one thing they knew needed to be done was that they needed to earn the trust of the people in the garbage dump.
As a population, the people in the dump are largely ignored. However, that does not prevent visitors from coming to earn sympathy points. Many have come to make promises that are never implemented. For that reason, the family knew that they needed to convince them that the was here for the long haul.
For months, they dedicated time to simply meeting the people and hearing about their lives. They would shake their hands and look them in the eye. Overtime, they began to trust Chris' parents. Chris' mother, Jesy Romero, remembers when they first had the desire to begin offering basic classes to the children in the dump. Their desire was to start with a small group of 5 students. However, they had 30 arrive on the first day. With these 30, they began having classes in the middle of the garbage dump.
For the next three years, they continued to meet in the dump and year after year, their numbers continued to grow. Following three years in the garbage dump, the ministry was forced to find a new location. Although they were never given a reason, they suspect that it was a publicity move by the government. With a large group of students, they relocated to a soccer field located at the base of the garbage dump, where they remained for an additional three years.
In 2006, they were blessed with their very first building. Thanks to the faithfulness of God, AFE has continued to grow. In 2011, we celebrated alongside 11 students who were the first to graduate from AFE with a High School Diploma.
All of them being the first in their family to do so.
We continue to dream for the future of this community. We continue to lean on support from donors. Mostly, we continue to follow God’s lead because He has proven his faithfulness from the beginning when it all started with a question by a 5 year old girl.