Family plans mission trip to help special needs children in Honduras

Published 9:09 am Saturday, February 13, 2010

When Jeff and Rachel Schei of Clarks Grove went on a mission trip to Honduras last January with members of First Baptist Church of Clarks Grove, they couldn’t help but notice the lack of special services available for children with Down syndrome.

As parents of an 11-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, Becca, they take a special interest in children with similar disabilities, Rachel said.

“I have a passion for kids with special needs,” Rachel said. “I wondered what happens to the kids with special needs down there.”

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They met with six Honduran children with Down syndrome and their families.

“These kids and their families are amazing and they touched my heart,” Rachel said.

In the area where these children live, there are no special services available. She gave the example of Alex, a 14-year-old boy who has never been to school and hardly leaves his home because of the teasing he has gotten.

Then there are Jennifer, 9, and Ingrid, 14, who go to school but do not receive any additional help while in the classroom. It’s also up to each individual teacher whether they’ll be allowed in the classroom.

To see a specialist, the families would have to travel for two hours, and most don’t have transportation, she said.

Rachel said when speaking with their families, they all had the same wish — for their children to be as independent as they can be.

Rachel met with the children individually to see what their skills are. “I feel God would not have put me in contact with the kids if he didn’t want us to help,” she said.

So this year, from March 12-19, they decided to assemble a team of bilingual speech and occupational therapists and an art teacher to go down and host a weeklong camp for these special needs children. There are also four college students, who are majoring in these therapy areas, traveling as part of the team.

Rachel used her connections from the College of St. Scholastica, where she majored in occupational therapy, to find the volunteers.

The Scheis and their two daughters, Becca and Maddie, are also going, bringing this year’s team total to 10 people.

They’re calling it Adventura de los Niños Especial or Special Kids Adventure.

To help support this trip financially, Shy Ministries, a group founded three years ago by Jeff Schei, worship leader at the church, is holding a fundraiser concert from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church in Clarks Grove.

Shy Ministries’ music group focuses on mission work and bringing others to Christ through music. It is comprised of musicians from a number of area churches. The group performs contemporary music and includes a drummer, guitarists, pianist and vocalists.

In addition to music, there will be games and prizes for the kids as well as information about the mission trip at the concert.

Only 250 tickets for the concert will be available. A suggested donation of $10 is requested per ticket. Kids 12 years and younger will be admitted free.

Contact First Baptist Church of Clarks Grove at 256-4252 if you would like to donate and receive a ticket for the event. People are also welcome to make cash donations to help fund the trip.

First Baptist Church first got involved with a children’s home in Azacualpa, Honduras, three years ago.

Dago Zelaya, who founded the children’s home, spoke at the church, and when he was finished, Jeff, who had been doing local mission work, stood up and said, “I’m going. Who wants to go with me?”

Five other people joined him in 2008, and he got another group together in 2009. Seventeen people went last year, including Rachel. The group concentrated on community outreach and construction on that trip.

Becca and Maddie’s classes at Lakeview Elementary are seeing a video made from last year’s trip. They’ll be collecting school supplies for the children’s home and will be distributing them on the trip this year. They also hope to Skype with their classes while on the trip.

The mission team is also collecting black shoes and uniform skirts for the girls in the children’s home.