Written by Anita Telles for MSV – When I first got invited to speak at schools in Honduras about my message of NO bullying, I was quite “reserved”. I would be flying into San Pedro Sula, the murder capitol of the world. (About 111 murders out of 100,000. In the USA the rate is 3.8 out of 100,000. I was concerned.
American-born Shannon Kring, who invited me, has served Honduras for almost 9 years, featuring the country in her award-winning films, televisions and books. She serves as Honduras’ Goodwill Ambassador to the world, and is a United Nations World Tourism Organization Liaison, where she works on projects that eradicate poverty and elevate marginalized members of society.
Shannon loves Honduras and told me that my message of acceptance, kindness and no bullying was very much needed there. Would I please come?
My 13-year-old son was “pushing me” into going, telling me that it was the right thing to do, and that we would be able to get my message of acceptance, kindness, and no-bullying out to the world. I said to myself, “I must take action towards my dream, and walk my talk.” With that in mind I said yes. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
You cannot help but fall in love with this country and its people, we were welcomed with open arms!
Both my son and I spoke at many schools; anti-bullying community events and we even got the opportunity to be on national TV.
Before we left the US, my son did a video where children in Santa Cruz County, as well as the police chief of Scotts Valley and also one of my son’s teachers, sent a message of hope and anti-bullying to the teachers, parents and children of Honduras. This gift was very much appreciated. I had bracelet stating: you soy Anti-bullying printed up. These bracelets were so appreciated all around.
Anita also brought a gift of $ 3000 from Santa Cruz Children’s charities, an organization dedicated to change the lives of children. Anita and Branden her son was able to purchase and deliver much needed food for Orphanages, giving the gift of “running water” at a local school in San Pedro Sula etc.
Honduras is a beautiful country, the people are wonderful, the natural resources are unbelievable, the culture and land…amazing.
The highlight of the trip was, of course, to follow my dream and be able to make a difference in the lives of children all over the world.
However, another highlight was to meet René Bendaña, and spend quality time with Shannon. René – this amazing man that Shannon introduced us to – is a person of integrity, with a message to the world.
René is in the process of running for president of his beloved Honduras. Even with his busy schedule he made time to go to every event we went to. He also got on stage and translated my speech in front of 800+ people in one of the poorest and most overlooked communities in his city. Being able to have conversation with a person who is so dedicated to change, fairness and equality for his people was an eye opener and refreshing.
I spoke to him of the danger he was putting himself in. Was he scared? The answer was surprising, spoken with such calmness and strength. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Am I willing to die for my country? Yes, Anita. I want my children to be able to walk down the streets feeling safe. I want all citizens of Honduras to have opportunities for a great life. I want Honduras to be a place people look forward to visiting. I want corruption and drug trafficking to be a part of the past. I want to see Honduras rise to greatness again. I want the woman of Honduras to have opportunities, the “street children” to have a safe place to sleep, a pillow under their head, food in their bellies and knowledge. That it all starts with an IDEA. We have an moral obligation to not stick our head in the sand, but to face the challenges straight on”.
Shannon, who is a foreigner in Honduras, is René’s “right hand woman”. Her dedication to change – worldwide – is amazing. Her dedication to Honduras, the people, culture (especially the Maya culture), is admirable. She is very aware of the real danger she is putting herself in. To me it was almost confusing, until I understood that this was her “calling”. It was her passion, something she had to do.
It was so interesting to watch this tall, angelic person, hugging children and elders with genuine love, total commitment to change and making a difference. Often she would excuse herself as her cell-phone would not stop ringing, journalists, Hollywood, Cannes film festival agents, movie sets, United Nations, the Honduran government questioning when some famous movie stars would be flying in to take part in a documentary of exciting, new archeological sites. All this in a day’s work – wow.
We are now back home in Santa Cruz, reflecting back on our wonderful trip to Honduras. We never felt unsafe; however one must be streetwise, take percussions and stay with people that are familiar with the area. It is not Santa Cruz..
Like my dear friend Shannon says, “In Honduras things happen in ‘Maya time’, which is sometimes hours off from what the clock dictates. Natural phenomena and political issues cause entire villages to shut down for days. One has to live by the natural order of things.”
Of course we noticed armed guards everywhere, and heard the stories; however, I would never have wanted to miss out on this opportunity. Both my son and I already decided that we will be going back to Honduras. The only thing I can say is, “ In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
With the help of local fitness centers, schools and individuals, I am now starting up a program to be able to collect nicely used soccer shoes for children in Honduras who play sports barefooted. If you or anyone you know would like to give a helping hand, contact me at: [email protected]
About Anita: Anita Anita Telle is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, international award winning author, speaker and renowned children’s champion. She has a mission: to teach acceptance and love to children ages 4 – 9 so they will grow up to be amazing, supportive and loving teenagers, immune to peer pressure and bullying. She grew up in Norway, where storytelling is part of her culture. Drawing on that heritage, Anita started writing books for children with engaging stories containing messages of love and acceptance. Anita Telle can be reached at: 831-234-7810 or [email protected]