November 28, 2005
Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras
The past 3 weeks have been significant to APROCOLA in Honduras. We had the annual general meeting which resulted in a new vibrant board of directors and subsequently developed a strategic focus for 3CM's support of Project Hope through a vigorous process. But, to give the news in some order, let us deal with items chronologically.
The municipality has taken forever to generate the purchase orders for the boulders and gravel we need for the retaining wall, matched by banking problems that are hindering the transfer of funds from Italy to pay for the cement. So, unfortunately that project is being held up, but so far the side of the hill is still holding out and we're praying that it continues to do so for another month.
This past Wednesay, a 3CM group from Alberta and British Columbia were able to accompany me to the official inauguration of the water project. As a special touch, Bob and Brian had coordinated to pick up thermal coffee mugs for each of the guys who worked on the project. Christiane and Brian who were both integral components in developing the funding for this project were given the honor of cutting the ceremonial ribbon.
That evening, the kids at La Roca put on a presentation of their gymnastics class and art classes. Some of the drawings were so well done that members of our group wanted to know if the youth would consider selling them. I was happy that finally a group of volunteers from Canada was able to be present when we had a presentation like this.
The following morning our group headed up to the capital city Tegucigalpa, normally about 6 hours away. It took us about 9 hours this time as we actually lost an SUV full of people on the route. Yes, 4 very intelligent gentlemen got so rapped up in a conversation that they didn't realize they had turned off the highway and cut cross-country through a dangerous stretch of territory. The first 2 vehicles didn't realize we had actually lost them until about 40 minutes later when they didn't show up in San Pedro. We had police check points set up to find them and thanks to international cell phone agreements, they were able to contact us eventually and describe where they were. It all worked out without problem and I was happy not to write any of those "Dear Mrs. Doe. We are sorry to inform you that your husband disappeared..." letters.
The excitement continued when we got to Tegucigalpa. In order to find our hotel in an extremely confusing city, we hired a taxi and put Brian and Bob in it. Brian because of his developing Spanish skills and Bob because of his security training as a police officer. They put a strobe light in the back window of the taxi and the other 2 vehicles followed them to the hotel. Without the strobe, we would have lost the taxi in the dark since there are hundreds of similar looking white Toyota Corolla taxis in Teguc. The following day we met with 2 of the senior officers at the Canadian Consulate to present Project Hope to them in the hopes of obtaining support from the Canadian International Development Agency as well. They were very gracious with their time and provided us with some helpful suggestions. We'll have to wait to see if their support will be expanded to include financial assistance.
After the meeting at the consulate, we headed back to San Pedro to go on to the coast on the other side at Omoa. Fortunately we never made it. Tropical Storm Gamma was flooding the region, including parts of San Pedro Sula itself. It took out bridges, shut down highways with trees and boulders and wreaked general havoc. I said "fortunately" because we ended up spending the weekend in a little hotel in San Pedro Sula. It was during this time that we struggled through the 10 hours of generating a strategic focus and plan for APROCOLA and more specificaly, Project Hope. How it gets implemented will largely be the responsibility of our Honduran board in Honduras, but at least we now have a focus for the support and involvement of 3CM. Our mission is Generating Leadership Opportunities for Rural Youth in western Honduras. This will ultimately allow us to leverage our investment in Honduras by training local rural youth to carry out the very type of projects that we are picking off inefficiently one at a time. Rather than start the model using our own property, shop and dormitories, we are going to rent facilities and develop a closer collaboration with a local trade school for use of their facilities. In addition, we are going to purchase a model farm for half the price of the property we had targetted and use that farm for our afternoon training center. The programs and schedule does not change, but our physical model of delivering the program will be far more efficient in the short run. Now begins the process of establishing a network of sponsors who will support the kids in the program. Stay Tuned!!
Finally, I was asked by the local trade and arts school to serve as an interim director for them for a minimum of 1 year. I declined the offer, but have agreed to work as a "consultant" to help them develop a director over the coming year. This means that I will invest 132 hours developing a leader who will help develop vocational skills among men and women in our community. At the same time, the board of that school is well aware of our Project Hope and recognize that I will be working to develop a strategic alliance between our program and theirs.
So, there you have it. We're all alive and well and things are progressing. The next group to come to Honduras will likely not be until May or July of next year, but programs will continue in La Roca in the meantime and we will be working hard to make sure that Project Hope is ready to role for the school year that starts in February, 2007.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or for further information