Nowhere is the chasm of difference between living conditions of the rich and poor more evident than in Honduran cities like Tegucigalpa. For the wealthy and powerful elite, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula offer upscale shops, restaurants, business centers and homes. Their children have no worries about securing a good education or future career. For the poor, however, city life is a different story. Living in cramped, squalid conditions, they suffer from high unemployment and income insecurity.

Honduras Urban Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • Honduras’ capital city, Tegucigalpa, is home to 1 million people, the majority of whom live in poor neighborhoods and struggle to meet their children’s basic needs. Honduras Aerial View of Homes
  • For children in the cities, their Compassion centers are safe havens of love and learning. Many stay after activities to spend time playing with friends. Honduras Four Girls
  • To help combat the malnutrition that assisted children in urban areas commonly suffer, Compassion centers provide them regular, nutritious meals. Honduras Children Eating
  • An age-appropriate curriculum enables Compassion center workers to address the complete range of children’s learning needs. Honduras Boy Getting Help with Work
  • Compassion-assisted children are encouraged to develop their talents and creativity. These girls are performing an interpretive dance to a Scripture song at their child development center. Honduras Girls Dancing
  • Nearly 3 million children younger than 15 live in Honduras. Most of them live in poverty. Honduras Girls Reading Book

Overview: Urban Region of Honduras

Of Honduras’ 8 million people, about half live in urban centers, the two largest of which are Tegucigalpa, the country’s capital city, and San Pedro Sula, a major industrial center in the northwest.

Poor Honduran families from the countryside frequently migrate to these and other cities in search of jobs and a better way of life. However, typically settling in the impoverished slums on city outskirts, these families find only disappointment and worse poverty than they endured before.

The great Maya empire was centered in Copán, in western Honduras, between A.D.300 and 900. The excavated ruins of this great city, located in a lush jungle setting, feature one of the world’s most impressive displays of ancient Mayan culture.

The site covers about 250 acres and includes stone temples, two large pyramids, several plazas and a court for playing the ball game tlachtli. Copán is especially noted for the Hieroglyphic Stairway, which leads to one of the temples and is carved with some 1,260 hieroglyphic symbols.


Culture Corner


Try this delicious taco filling or tostada topping.


  • 1 pound of beef (any good cut will do)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 c. flour
  • 1 small can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 small can diced green chilis
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • ½ c. water
  • ½ tsp. ground oregano
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • Salt to taste


Cut beef into 1-inch pieces.

In a stewpot, brown meat in olive oil. Add onion and garlic, cooking until soft. Sprinkle flour over the browned meat and cook for 2 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients. Stir.

Cover and simmer on very low heat for 1 – 1 ½ hours. Check often, stir and add water as needed.

Serve in taco shells or on tostadas with sour cream, cheese, diced tomatoes or other favorite garnishes.

Life in the Urban Region

Honduras’ urban centers present a stark contrast between the lifestyles of the rich and the poor. Alongside beautiful, upscale homes and shopping centers are vast slums where thousands of people live in squalor.

About 52 percent of Hondurans live in cities. Impoverished families average seven members, all living together in one-room, makeshift dwellings. Each member is expected to do his or her part to help support the family, even the children. About half a million children in the country under age 15 are engaged in some kind of labor.

Fathers frequently desert their families, leaving the care of children entirely to mothers who struggle to provide for them. Many urban children end up living on the streets, vulnerable to gang violence, drug addiction, exploitation, and abuse.

Children at Home

Many of Honduras’ impoverished urban residents live in cuarterías (rows) of connected rooms. Usually without windows, these makeshift rooms are generally constructed of wood, with dirt floors. The average household has about seven persons, who all live in the same small room. The narrow alleyways in the cuarterías typically serve as sewage and waste disposal areas, and households lack amenities such as electricity and running water.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Honduras

Nowhere is the chasm of difference between living conditions of the rich and poor more evident than in Honduran cities. For the wealthy and powerful elite, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula offer upscale shops, restaurants, business centers and homes. Their children have no worries about securing a good education or future career.

For the poor, however, city life is a different story. Living in cramped, squalid conditions, they suffer from high unemployment and income insecurity. One consequence of that strain is family instability. Frequently, fathers desert their families, leaving several children in the sole care of mothers who struggle to provide for them. Children often find themselves living on the streets, surviving however they can.

Local Needs and Challenges

Growing up in Honduras’ urban slums is a daunting challenge. The temptations are great to drop out of school and join one of the many gangs that terrorize entire neighborhoods. Many children also face chronic malnutrition and frequent illness from the lack of sanitation in the slums. Only about one-third of children continue their education beyond primary school, and family disintegration is common.


Schools and Education Education in Honduras

According to the Honduran constitution, education is free and, at the primary level, mandatory for all children. However, the country lacks a sufficient number of public schools, and most schools are poorly equipped and understaffed.

In urban areas, 60 percent of youths are enrolled in grades seven through nine, yet only 38 percent make it to high school. Countrywide, only 8 percent of children continue to the university level.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Compassion serves children in Honduras’ urban regions through local, church-based child development centers. These centers are havens of love and learning for registered children. Here, children receive nutritious meals, hygiene training and tutoring to attain standard academic milestones. They are also encouraged to develop their talents and abilities. Most important, children learn about God’s love and the gift of salvation in Christ.


Working Through the Local Church

The ministry of Compassion in Honduras is delivered through local churches. The partnership works well in this country where the church is on the front lines of sharing the message of hope through Jesus in communities battling poverty and crime. The church provides a sense of belonging, spiritual safety, fellowship, and encouragement to people who desperately need peace and direction in their lives.

Compassion’s church partners in Honduras are dedicated to changing individual lives and, in that way, changing their communities from the inside out. Because of this dedication to improving their communities by ministering to children, they have earned the respect of those who are not followers of Christ, even some gang leaders.

How Compassion Works in Honduras Compassion in Honduras

Compassion's work in Honduras began in 1974. Currently, more than 46,300 children participate in 200 child development centers.

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide Honduran children with a long-term program of physical, educational, socio-emotional and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and reach their full, God-given potential.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Compassion Honduras’ Partnership Facilitators are important liaisons between the national office and the individual local churches operating Compassion child development centers. One Partnership Facilitator, Vilma Canales, serves 13 centers in the western region of the country. One of these centers is the very one in which she grew up as a sponsored child and gave her life to Christ.

Because she considers herself a “product of Compassion,” she is committed to the ministry and working for the children in her home region. She says that it is a real blessing to continue her involvement with Compassion and to see so many children coming to their church-based centers with hopes and dreams for a better future.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray that parents in the urban areas will find adequate employment to care for their children.
  • Pray that marriages will grow strong and that fathers won’t desert their families.
  • Pray for the health of children who live in unsanitary conditions in city slums.
  • Pray that urban youths will resist the temptation to join violent gangs.
  • Pray that children will stay in school and excel in their education.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.