December 5, 2006
Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras
APROCOLA's 8 Most Wanted Finally Identified: Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen. We have finally identified the 8 youth that will launch the first year of The Moses Project! "The what?" you say. The Moses Project, formerly known as Project Hope (and currently still identified on many locations of our web site as such). "What? Are you giving up on hope?" you decry. No. Hope is still our mainstay, but 2 causes have led to the name change. First, there is an organization in Tegucigalpa (our capital in Honduras) with the name "Project Hope" which caused us to add "Rural" to the name to avoid confusion with whatever it is that they do. "Project Rural Hope" is very descriptive, but not much of a name. Secondly, many people in the zone in which we are launching this project became fixated on the idea that the hope was really just for those fortunate 8 boys selected. Wrong!
According to the account in the Bible, Moses was born into the lowest class that existed in Egypt at the height of its glory. His people had no access to education at the same time that the royal courts of Egypt were the most advanced in the then known world. Moses was found as a baby and adopted by the Pharaoh's daughter, raised in the palace as the grandson of the most powerful man in the world and trained to be a leader. Moses became the leader that changed the history of the Jewish people after 400 years of decline in Egypt as he was the man used by God to extract the Israelites from their chains. Our objective has not changed at all! From the start, our objective has been to develop leaders that will impact their communities.
OK, back to the breaking news... this past Saturday we had invited 13 families, from among the applicants, to come to Santa Rosa de Copán where we would interview the applicant along with both parents. We view the commitment of the parents as equally important given the influence that parents can and do exert here for the better or the worse. Originally we had targetted 15 as the magic number for final interviews, but after visiting the schools in the area and visiting 12 of applicants families (sometimes with Alma and / or Fredy) to conduct brief interviews and information sharing, we determined that in the zone we targetted, we didn't have 15 applicants that fit the profile. On the day of the interviews, one father came in from a village to ask if we would consider his son -- unfortunately, he came a week too late for this year.
The result of a long day of shuttling people back and forth to the bus terminal, feeding pastelitos and pupusas to hungry arrivers, asking questions that at times were incomprehensible to the parents (we learned to eliminate some of the more theoretical questions), and finally comparing notes among the interviewers (started with 4 and ended with 3) was... the selection of 8 youth from the area just north of Santa Rosa de Copán to participate in the innagural year of our 3 year leadership development program.
The guys range from 14.5 to 17.5 years old, 90 lbs to 130 lbswith a variety of backgrounds and living conditions. Six of the 8 boys currently live with both parents, one father has passed away and the final youth (who scored the highest in the interviews) is currently living with nuns to study in a community too far from home to commute each day although both his parents are alive and supporting his endeavors. I believe I can safely say that all 8 of the youth currently spend December and January picking coffee for survival wages. One youth lives in a brick home while the balance have homes made either of mud blocks (normally plastered with cement) or a wood lattice structure that is then plastered with mud. Some have electricity; some have water that comes to their yard; none have indoor bathrooms; I expect that none have ever taken a hot shower.
For full details and pictures of each of the youth, please check out the Participants page of the Moses Project part of our website (just click on the word Participants above to be redirected to the page).
Two other events worthy of note occurred since our past news update. First, coffee harvest started. It goes in stages and last week we completed the first stage, picking that which is ripe. Now we wait for another couple weeks to do another pass and repeat this every 3 weeks or so. The first harvest netted about 350lbs of coffee cherries (raw with shell) which we sold for just under $0.10 per lb. Of that 350lbs, they'll be able to produce about 63 lbs of finished coffee. The next harvest will be a larger quantity and we'll take it to a "beneficio" to be shelled and fermented before we dry it ourselves at the farm. This process knocks off about 35% of the weight, but increases the net value by 6x.
The other event was "CARS". Yup, we found the DVD for Cars at PriceSmart while we were in San Pedro the other day and presented it to kids from the neighborhood at La Roca. We had a good time and the kids loved it. We're going to loan it to the trade school so that they can show it to kids from their surrounding neighborhood who are now on school vacation (mid November through January is vacation in Honduras -- timed to allow them to go pick coffee...). Closer to Christmas we're going to show Polar Express at La Roca as well.
We still need to hire the house-parents, and have been speaking with various community leaders to help us identify good candidates. This couple will have a tremendous influence on the attitudes of the youth and as such, are critical to our program.
We always welcome your feedback, so feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.