…..and the Heavens Opened Up

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Distance Learning with Instituto Hondureno para el Desarrollo Rural

Back in November, Margaux Yost, the Peace Corps volunteer in Quimistan, suggested we connect with the folks in Quimistan.  On Wednesday we met with Mariano Mendez, the Coordinator, and Sonia Maria Carranza, his assistant.  IHDER (Honduran Institute for Rural Development) is an NGO organized in 1978 with a primary objective of reaching out to farmers in remote areas to organize them and make them more productive.  Subsequently they changed their direction to look at the lives of people to include housing, health, education, water, and sanitation.  IHDER works with communities to understand the needs, set priorities, and develop plans. They continue to believe rural communities can’t prosper without good farming.  All projects have a training module which includes how to maintain what’s been implemented and ensure environmental sustainability.

Our initial purpose of meeting with them was to discuss remote educational opportunities.  But the discussion expanded into other opportunities.  The remote education project is based in Playon, a community in central Honduras.  Education materials are provided to students supported by radio communications at the remote locations.  Periodic onsite visits by a teacher reinforce learning and evaluate progress.  The program can handle 20-30 students/location from 1st through 12th grades.  This has very practical applicability for the children in Teo.  We’ll be following up with Mariano and Sonia next week.

University Education Program

We met with Maynor to understand Carlos Rapalo’s 1) finances, 2) family situation and 3) ability to succeed.  With him meeting all our criteria we agreed to provide initial support for his first year of university.  We rejoice in having this opportunity to add a third Agape Promises graduate to the program.

… and today the heavens opened up

Under a gray sky with drizzling rain falling, the mission team left in a two car convoy for Texoxingales (Teo), about an hour and a half drive from Quimistan.  As the team’s vehicle started up the steep wet clay winding mountain road the heavens opened up with a downpour that made the road unsafe to travel.  Have you ever tried to turn around a large 15 passenger vehicle on a small mountain road with no guardrails and a ditch of rushing water on either side?
Returning to the bottom of the mountain and to the village of Pinalejo we shopped at the local Catholic Church to purchase some Catholic adult and children’s Bibles in Spanish, along with some children’s Sunday school materials.  These materials will be distributed to the Catholic community in La Montanita.

On the way back to the “ranch” we stopped again in Pinalejo to observe the operation of a molino.  This is an electrically powered machine that grinds corn mixed with water to make tortilla dough.  The dough must be ground and mixed just prior to cooking because the dough immediately starts to ferment.  As a treat on the way back into Quimistan, we stopped to observe tortilla dough being rolled and fried into delicious homemade corn tortillas.

After lunch we traveled to the private hospital in Quimistan to listen to a most impressive presentation by Dr. Turcios.  He has just earned a master’s degree in psychology in addition his medical doctor’s credentials.  He is desirous of leaving his current medical practice.  He then would devote himself to changing the current cycle of parents imprinting upon their children inappropriate family moral values.  Currently, at the age of 13 to 15, local Honduran children who are missing parental love and lacking in self respect seek short-term relationships.  This results in children having children born into single parent families.  The mission team members are exploring ways of partnering with Dr. Turcios and serving our AP students.  Much more discussion and thought is needed in this area.

Dr. Constantino returned to our dinner table Thursday evening and offered a most informative PowerPoint presentation on the results of the 2010 Medical Brigades.  His focus was on the communities of La Montanita, Nueva Esperanza, Texoxingales, and Banderas.  Of the 1895 members of these four communities, 741 required medical assistance during 2010.  For all age groups, asthma and diarrhea were the most prevalent medical problems, both of which are targets of the Honduras Agape Foundation.  Dr. “Tino” stated that since the introduction of Justa stoves and use of the Foundation- purchased nebulizers the incidents of asthma have been significantly reduced.  The Foundation’s partnership programs with these communities, with regard to clean water, have proven to be most successful.