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Mar 2 , 2005
Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras

It would appear that I have been slightly negligent in keeping this page up to date. Does that sound familiar? I believe it was the opening line on the last news update that I posted 10 months earlier...

Since the last update, I spent about 5 months working in Chicago (leaving Santa Rosa with about 2 days notice). I also got married and thanks to the work in Chicago, was fulfill a dream of spending my honeymoon in Edinburgh, Scotland and then Barcelona, Spain.

Meanwhile, La Roca ploughed ahead. Andrews, our Peace Corps volunteer carried on with Health Club, soccer and various hikes, etc. Alma carried on with the sewing class for the women and the local House of Culture continued to provide art, music and drama classes with our kids. In the fall, the drama program was consolidated between the three participating neighborhoods and so today our kids are walking up the hill to participate at the central location. While I would love to have them still physically in our building, the flipside of this development is that the kids are becoming more accustomed to participating in the everyday opportunities that are available downtown. I think, in part, that it is a victory of confidence for these kids.

A couple of our highlights were a group of youth coming down from the Baptist Church in Olds and then later a trip to La Esperanza to play soccer. The youth from olds came in the summer and spent a bit of time seeing various ongoing projects in Santa Rosa, La Majara and Lepaera. They were very generous in their contribution to buy three new manual sewing machines (the peddle type) and the material for our false ceiling. The kids then earned points that were convertible into various articles of clothing, school supplies, etc. by helping me to install the ceiling. Let me assure you, when it is cold out, it is now warmer in the center, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, when it is hot out, the center is much cooler inside.

The trip a La Esperanza was arranged by Andrew with one of his friends (Ryan) in the Peace Corps. We piled 7 kids into the back of the Rodeo plus Drew (big guy) and Triny and I. We crashed on the floor of Drew's friend's house in La Esperanza after about 3 hours on the road -- 2 of which was on a very dusty under-construction dirt road. Regardless, we had a great time and we really appreciated Ryan's hospitality. A couple hours after arriving, we played soccer against a local team and then returned to Ryan's place for supper of stirfry (prepared by the kids) and then marshmellows beside a campfire while various youth (both local and ours) told ghost stories. In the morning, we feasted on beans and flour tortillas for breakfast before going downtown to check it out. Triny and I were fortunate enough to find a really warm blanket -- hard to find and yet equally necessary in Santa Rosa for December and January. From the downtown market, we ventured out to a small village about 10 miles away (actually about 15 miles from El Salvador). We parked the Rodeo on the side of the road and wandered up a little creek to find an incredible waterfall.

The trip home was, um, interesting. We burned out our breaks about half way into the trip. That meant a slow long return in second gear using the emergency break. Fortunately we realized the loss of breaks in a zone that was not too steep and no cows wandered onto the road in front of us thereafter.

This year, we launched the now annual school supplies drive. That means that we had about 36 kids wandering the streets (don't worry -- horses rarely run over kids and cars are rare on these streets) collecting garbage. Other kids were helping me fix the fence around the basketball court, filling a couple tires with concrete to hold the poles that suspend the volleyball net... In exchange for each hour of participation, they earned credits that were worth about 3 small notebooks. Distribution day was fun with kids filing out with notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, rulers, etc. Some of the older kids (14 - 16) were working for new shoes, socks or uniforms -- even deodorant.

On Valentines Day we had a TV program shot here at La Roca. The local health department put on a party here with an underlying message -- knowledge of HIV/AIDS. The place was packed with kids and adults and a local performer in a prince costume (old fashioned prince -- not the singer) did a fantastic job of entertaining the kids and dishing out prizes, etc. Definitely an improvement over last years party.

A couple weeks ago, we ventured to the bilingual school to participate in a school soccer tournament. We were also supposed to participate in a chess tournament, but our guys weren't ready in time. This Sunday we're headed back out on the soccer trail to a small village up in the sticks.

As you may have noted, the activities are starting to be weighted towards the boys. That is true. Simply, it is a result of the loss of Mary Ann Nixon who was our latest and greatest volunteer and my inability so far to replace her. It looks promising for another local volunteer who may have a few days available each week to help us with programs for the girls. In addition, a local church has promised to come down and help us with a program for the women. Their idea was crafts, but it sounds like maybe it is shifting to baking. I certainly prefer the baking option since I often get to test the results (unfortunately I have no vote in the matter).

So there we are. Life is good and it is now time for me to take my wife out for supper for her birthday.

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