Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras
The bulldozers are running once again!
This time they're working on shaping the side of the hill beside the Moses Project residence to hold 6 fish ponds. It's a major investment by Mission Upreach to develop more program sustainability in the program. As of today, the oversight of the Moses Project has passed from Aprocola to Mission Upreach. We are still involved in supporting day-to-day operations of the project and have committed to remain connected for fundraising for major capital projects like a shop that we always planned to "build one day".
What we gained is the support of an organization with staff and a fundraising network that is capable of maintaining the operations. NOT just maintain... this year we were down to 14 boys and their objective is to recruit 30 boys for next year. Based on an agreement for turnover that we didn't start working on until the last 1/3rd of May, by the time I showed up on July 13, there was:
- new fences around the property (part of which the Catholic church had started),
- the storage trailer out front was moved over to the side (out of site),
- a group there (their third since mid June) mixing concrete for the floor for a storage shed capable of emptying out all the items that collected over the years in the rooms designed to be a classroom and a lounge in the main residence. (Sorry for the poor picture which was taken on a break)
- The property from the west side of the residence to our far fence was stripped clean and they were shaping the top fish ponds with 2 bulldozers (who had also done some repair work on our road coming into the farm).
Marvin, one or our students that joined us in 2008 and transitioned to staff after graduating in 2010 now has help in the form of a boss who is an agronomist. The last couple years have been tough for Marvin and Ayuri trying to look after the agricultural side of operations while we looked for a partner to come alongside and take the project to the next level. I have nothing but good things to say about them both for their attitudes and contribution to the project. Sadly, Ayuri passed away two weeks after I left him back in March after a swift and deadly battle with acute anemia. It shook the project to say the least, but in the transfer ceremony today we were able to point out the type of example that Ayuri was for the rest of us to emulate. His quiet impact on people was incredible and his funeral was not just standing room only -- there were people standing outside as well since the church had no more room.
Daisy, unfortunately, was 'odd man out' as they felt it important to bring in their own people to look after the boys. Daisy was faithful right to the last minute - even offering to come make breakfast for the boys today as she wanted to make sure that not one meal fell through the cracks in the transition of control. I'm sure she'll have lots of visitors (boys from the project) on the weekends at her house in Santa Rosa and she'll love it!
Raul no longer directs Project Moses, but he still directs Aprocola on a reduced contract from what it was a couple years ago. Raul has also been faithful right through. The director of Mission Upreach commented to me that he was very impressed with how Raul handled passing over the Isuzu pickup today - no hesitation, no excuses, nothing - even though it has a personal impact. It spoke to his professionalism and character.
Suddenly the project has a full time director - Hugo Medina, a full time agronomist - Luis Medina, 3 cooks, 2 security guards, a part time counsellor and staff in the main office of the mission to handle the administration. We were slowly diminishing staff and operations and now it's bigger and stronger than ever with the push of Phil Waldron behind it .
I met Phil (pictured to the right with Tim at the turnover ceremony) back in 2008 when he first came down to Santa Rosa to check it out. Like me, he was in construction / real estate development so I knew right away that he was a good guy. Back then I showed him through the La Majara property in full swing and showed him this property we were considering moving to in El Carrizal. At the time, I never considered that in the future I would be handing over control of the whole show. He doesn't do things part way - it's either "let 'r rip" or "let's not get involved at all". Fortunately for us, they let 'r rip with Project Moses.
We had tried to turn the project over to the Catholic church, but despite the best intentions by the local bishop (who has a fantastic heart to serve the poor people of his region), the institution and helpers appointed were simply not up to the task of taking control and responsibility. We bear no ill will toward them in light of termating our agreement with them for failure to perform. At the time, it was frustrating and a little scary, but seeing the results of what started after reaching the end of that attempt is nothing less than encouraging.
On another project that involved many volunteers from 3CM, the La Roca youth center has been converted to a neighbourhood health center via a tri-lateral agreement between the department of health, the city and Aprocola.
Inside the center, the kitchen has been converted to the vaccination center, the girl's bathroom into the file room, my office is now a doctor's office complete with patient examination bed and in the main room where we had art, drama, English, etc., there are two more doctor's offices and a small pharmacy. It was great to see the community taking full advantage of this facility to serve a very strong local need. Of course I felt some nostalgia for the days when I lived in the back office and kids sat on the outside steps from 6am onwards waiting for me to open the door. We'll have to replace the backboards for the basketball hoops as the hoops and the concrete playing surface are in excellent shape, but the plywood backboards have rotted with the passing of time, rain & sun. Any volunteers?
And speaking of volunteers... are there supporters interested in coming down for the graduation ceremony at the end of October for the last group of boys to enter the program under our watch? I've been down twice this year and hadn't planned to come down now, but I think it's important to show these boys that we stand behind them and believe in their power to change their communities.