Honduras (MNN) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton terminated more than $30 million in aid to Honduras. It's being done in an effort to increase pressure on the country's de facto government to restore democratic rule after a coup in June.
This may only be the beginning. The State Department says it could be cut by as much as $200 million unless ousted President Manuel Zelaya and his democratically elected government is reinstated.
The question is: what does this mean for the work of organizations like Compassion International? U.S. Communications Director Kathy Redmond says, "Since we work through the local church, our sponsors' money, our donors' money, is not sent through government at all. It's sent through the local church. So what we do has not been restricted at all."
While their assistance hasn't been affected, Redmond says other areas have. "We just cannot send any travelers into Honduras. So our sponsor visits have been canceled. Any tours that we do have been canceled." It's a volatile situation, and they're in-country staff is on alert.
While only non-humanitarian aid is affected by the U.S. ban, "even when non-humanitarian aid is cut off, it still hurts the most vulnerable that are there," says Redmond. "And, Honduras–in terms of their economy–is the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere, only behind Haiti."
Despite the U.S. aid ban, donations to Compassion and other privately-funded groups are safe and effective. "A group like Compassion would be sure to get the money to the local church where the needs of the poorest of the poor are met, to basically get their needs met on one hand while on the other hand release them from poverty."
Poverty causes other issues, too. Kids drop out of school to earn money for their families. They turn to crime, become drug mules, join gangs, and worse.
Redmond says Compassion is seeing many kids turn from their ways as they receive sponsors. "Because the church is the center of the community, you even have people turning away from gangs to become Christians to become involved."