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NEWS

Nov 3 , 2005
Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras

It would appear that I have been negligent in my reporting these past 3 weeks. In summary, it's been busy, wet and cold.

We received letters from the Director of the Department of Education for our province as well as the Western Director for the national trade school, expressing their support for our proposed intensive training center and expressing regret at not being able to attend our meeting back on October 11. The Director of Education assured me that she would talk to the governor regarding the project and see what kind of support we can obtain from the official levels of government that control $$$.

From October 20 - 23rd, I was in Copan Ruinas at the Project Honduras conference for non-profit organizations working in Honduras. It was a fantastic opportunity to network with othe organizations that may be doing similar or complimentary types of projects and to learn from the experiences of others. The four days consisted of 15 minute presentations by various organizations on specific topics predesignated for the conference. The majority of the presentations were about the organization, their projects, their challenges and their successes. A couple were more technical in nature, and I particularly was interested in one that came immediately after ours, one on solar energy technology here in Honduras. Personally I am convinced that this will play a significant role in the development of Honduras in a similar way that cell phone technology leap-frogged "land lines" in much of Eastern Europe to provide communication services to hundreds of thousands of people who had no telephones before.

The conference focussed predominantly on education and health, with emphasis being placed on sustainability of our projects, and conforming to national requirements specifically in the area of medical work. One lesson shouted repeatedly was to learn to say "no" to offers of donations that are inappropriate to your project. Numerous examples were given of expensive or bulky donations that were sent down to make a North American feel good about contributing, but served no purpose in Honduras and ended up on the side of the road. Another issue stressed was the potential legal consequences of doing medical work without prior notification and approval by the health authorities of the medical staff that intend to provide clinical volunteer services here in Honduras. If something goes wrong, the doctor is likely long gone before any action is taken, but I would be the one singing railroad songs in prison...

News on the water project in Ceiba Rabona is mixed. We are very happy that the guys are mostly healthy again and are hoping once again to finish the project by next weekend. We have all of the small supplies needed, but are stuck short 46 peices of heavy steel piping that still need to come from Guatemala. I'm checking today if we can substitute a lighter steel that is available here, since we have enough heavy pipe to deal with the portion of the line with the most pressure. The contractors concern yesterday is that the weight of the pipe on the swinging bridge might be too much, but the engineer assures me that this is not the case. Another hiccup discovered 2 days ago is that the municipality of San Juan de Opoa seems to have missappropriated 110 bags of our cement that we bought for the project. Given the mayor's healthy fear of elections only 3 weeks away, I believe we can correct that little misstep.

I haven't been back out to Ceiba Rabona for almost 3 weeks simply due to lack of transportation. However, we've kept busy trying to make sure the contractor gets what he needs when he needs it and everybody gets paid and provides receipts...

The kids finished digging the trench that will serve as the foundation for the retaining wall on the left side of La Roca. This is tough work, as they are using picks to bust up sandstone. However, they are happy to earn money for their graduations (grade 6 and junior high) and some are saving up for Christmas. A couple weeks ago I had to segregate kids from one family who are really good workers simply because everybody in their house developed Sarna -- a nasty parasite that causes eruptions in the skin with puss and other nasties that doctors describe in sterile terms. However, I took one of them to see a doctor (who didn't charge us) and then bought medicine for the extended family and they are doing very well now. One of the sisters had this problem for 6 months and they just don't have the very basic funds needed to go see a real doctor who could help them. They had been prescribed a useless allergy medicine by an unlicensed pharmacist who often serves as a doctor for poor people.

I have also been doing some coordinating -- getting things arranged for a small group that is coming next weekend. Hopefully we'll be able to attend an "inauguration" of the water project as well as check out several of the wells that have been completed and a new possible water project in another community not far from Santa Rosa. La Roca will benefit by a re-install of the fence around the basketball court (that got destroyed by the mudslide). We've requested the opportunity to present to the local Rotary Club on the Wednesday that they are here and have also requested a meeting with the Canadian Consul General up in Tegucigalpa to see if there are mutually beneficial ways for us to collaborate with the official foreign aid objectives. So, hopefully it will be a busy and productive visit for our partners from Canada.

And finally on a personal note, this past weekend Triny and I went up to Comayagua to for her checkup. The ultrasounds now show an actual little person inside her. Cool. She's healthy and everything appears normal for the baby as well.

Contact me at phil@timko.ca with any questions or for further information