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NEWS

March 10 , 2006
Comoyagua, Honduras

"Why am I in Comoyagua?" you ask. Good question. At the end of February, we had a meeting with His Excellency Oscar Cardinal Rodriguez. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce a project that originated in Costa Rica and has spread to Nicaragua and Panama. We were merely the facilitators, as my dear wife Triny has some amazing connections... Anyways, on the way home the next day, we stopped by her brother's clinic to say goodbye and a final checkup on her pregnancy pronounced her ready to pop. That is, ready to give birth. As a result, the doctor did not want us to travel and we have been waiting here since -- eating his food, stealing the mother-in-law's room, etc. The good side of waiting is that I've finally updated all the past news pages into the current format.

We have been busy on various fronts as of late. One is the pursuit of tax exemptions from the various national taxes. After 2 years of trying to get the process started, we finally have the income tax exemption application in gear. We are also in the middle of the process for exemption from sales tax and the import tax so that we can save about Cdn$6,000 on the purchase of an Isuzu pickup truck. We met last week and this week with the lawyer in Tegucigalpa who is handling the process and now we are scheduled for an inspection by the Department of Finance for this next Wednesday. So, with or without my new son, I will return to Santa Rosa de Copan on Sunday to ensure everything is in order for the audit. Don't worry about your support going towards the purchase of a truck like this -- it has already been covered by a very specific donation by a development company in Canada.

Our art classes recently concluded a segment and so are on break for this week. On Tuesday, everything fires back up again with classes of art, gymnastics / drama and music. In addition, thanks to Alma (our Programs Coordinator), her group of university students will also be working with the children on various topics throughout the week, even including their parents in some of the programs. That means that La Roca will be busy every afternoon of the week. The 11 youth that were working on the retaining wall completed it a couple weeks ago. That is one big wall and they did a fantastic job of hauling about 25 dump truck loads of sand, gravel and big rocks up from the basketball court where the dump trucks dropped the materials to the shop behind the building. There they mixed all the concrete by hand, loaded it into wheel barrows to bring it to the side of the building and then shovelled it into buckets to haul up the ladders to dump inside the forms. Now that it's finished, we call it our dinasaur wall since we inset sharp little rocks all along the stop of the wall to keep children from playing on the top of this wall and potentially falling a long way down to the ground below. The majority of the cost for this retaining wall has been committed to by the family of Angelo, an Italian youth who volunteered here at one time and was looking forward to returning when a tragic accident took his life. We want to very publicly acknowledge his friends and family for their help.

Another project that is well in process is the purchase of a small farm of 11 acres located about 7 km from Santa Rosa de Copán. At the board meeting for APROCOLA in February, the purchase was approved subject to valuations provided by the bank and the municipality. Both valuations came in well within range (they were slightly higher) and on Monday I will go to the lawyers office to sign the purchase documents. This particular purchase has been financed through the very generous support of a good friend of ours, Christiane, and her brother Peter. this farm will serve a very critical role in Project Hope and I'm excited that this step is just about completed. This farm has water for irrigation, drinkable water (by their standards), power about 400m away, beautiful pine trees, fruit trees (banana, mango, organge, etc.), coffee plants and lots and lots of space that currently has corn.

Finally, in addition to Project Hope (which will kick into gear fairly soon on our end of things to line up students for the project), we have a smaller project to manage until then. The family of one of our students lost their home in a fire a couple weeks ago. The picture to the left is hard to decipher, but the white "walls" are what is left of the house. The brick wall that you see belongs to the neighboring house. The fire left a night watchman and his family with nothing more than the clothes they had on their back that night. I met with Habitat for Humanity as well as the local director for INFOP (the national trade school) and then the board of ETAOO (the Western Honduran Trade School) to see if we can help. We are going to organize a contractor's course through La Roca, using a certified instructor from INFOP and publicly doing everything under ETAOO. Habitat for Humanity will likely participate in the form of some financing for the family (who would never qualify for a bank loan). In this form, we only need to raise the funding for the majority of the materials, the labor will be free and the family will contribute with labor as well as a commitment to repay a loan back to Habitat for Humanity. The fact is, that with your help, we can purchase all of the materials, as it will only cost about Cdn$6,000. However, it is important that the family remain with a commitment (the loan to Habitat) that will serve to help others rather than simply moving into a "gifted" home.

For information on how to help, please see the "Donate" page and when you send your donation for this particular project, indicate so on an attached piece of paper.

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