While some dream of being a difference-maker, others, like Amber Litwiler, just go out and do it. Litwiler, a 2008 Union High School graduate, has left the comfort and stability of her home in eastern Iowa for a 13-month residency in Honduras, where she will work as a Physical Therapist in support of a Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos home (NPH, Spanish for “Our Little Brothers and Sisters”), located in Rancho Sante Fe, about an hour northeast of the capital city of Tegucigalpa.
NPH is an organization that traces its roots back to Mexico, founded in 1954 by Father William B. Wasson. Today, NPH has homes throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, presently caring for more than 3,400 children. The model upon which it operates is a unique and highly successful one that helps the orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children of the region. Without this critical assistance, many of these children would be forced to live in dangerous and unsanitary conditions, lacking access to proper nutrition and health care. With no home to call their own, these children are often shuffled from one family member to another, with increased odds of never attending school and suffering some form of physical and/or mental abuse.
Through the support of NPH, otherwise orphaned young people, ranging in age from newborn to teenager, are referred by family members, neighbors or governmental agencies. Instead of being placed for adoption, these children are welcomed, along with their brothers and sisters, into the larger NPH community where their emotional, developmental and spiritual needs are cared for. As members of this greater community, each child has daily chores and, upon the completion of their schooling, are asked to give back a year or more of service to their brothers and sisters, to share the responsibility of raising the greater family.
The commitment to work with NPH is not one that is entered into lightly. Litwiler went through an extensive application process where her credentials were carefully scrutinized. Following an interview, she was ultimately offered a contract requiring her to make a 13-month commitment to life in Honduras. It’s a  challenge she is eager to begin, one that combines her passion for helping others and a strong desire to experience cultural diversity.
Each of the nine countries in which NPH maintains a site has its own unique circumstances. While in Honduras, Litwiler will have the opportunity to work with residents of two special homes, Casa de Los Angeles, a home for disabled children, and Casa Eva, a home for elderly adults who have no family to care for them. Each will provide Litwiler with numerous cases that will allow her to further develop and hone her skills as a physical therapist.
While out of the country, Amber will have access to technology that will allow her to keep in touch with family and friends, mostly  by way of facebook. Her contract also provides for vacation days that can be used after six months of service. NPH also encourages her family members to participate in the experience by traveling to Honduras and assisting the community during a visit. So, while Amber embarks on what promises to be a unique professional and cultural experience, she, like the children with whom she will work, is not alone.