An anti-poverty move in Honduras creates more problems

By March 13, 2009

Honduras (MNN) — The
Inter-American Development Bank says Honduras is one of the poorest countries
in Latin America, with a poverty rate of 70 percent.

On January 1, Honduras raised the
minimum monthly wage. It was a move
intended to raise people out of poverty, but it has had the reverse effect.

President Manuel Zelaya announced
the increase in the minimum monthly wage, from 157 to 289 dollars, or a roughly
60-percent hike.

It was an immediate
controversy. The government increased
the minimum wage by decree after it failed to bring about an agreement between
workers and business, as stipulated by the country's labor laws.

Steve Geurink with Worldwide Christian Schools explains that the increase put many businesses and employers in a
difficult position. "The ministry
of representatives from the government have said, 'You have to pay this or we
will close you.' People are simply
laying off workers and businesses because they can't pay the new minimum

Their partners are also cutting
back. The El Verbo Christian School in
Tegucigulpa was forced to lay off 12 people in order to meet the new payroll

Budget deficits created by the
wage hike threatens the ministry. Geurink says many of their partner schools
were already operating at a "bare bones" level. 
Now, "They have to start
looking at how they can get more revenue out of the parents themselves,
locally, which is going to be very difficult. This means that fewer children
will have access to those schools," which means fewer children being
exposed to the Gospel. 

What can you do? "We would
encourage people to consider sponsoring one of these schools. But don't forget
about the power of prayer. Pray for the government, pray for the country, as a
whole, and lift up these teachers and these schools so that they can
continue to operate in spite of this challenge."

It costs one
sponsor less than a dollar a day to
ensure that there is one more child in school.
Geurink says it costs roughly $25 a month. They need six sponsors per school. WWCS is looking
for sponsors for the following schools:


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