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February 11 , 2007
Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras

They're Here!!! And still alive. One boy was not able to join us do to some serious health issues with his father and a second youth made the trip and just didn't have the heart to stay in Santa Rosa when he parents left; so he left also. However, given that both of these incidents occured at or prior to the start, we were able to spend the following two weekends interviewing a further 5 candidates and were able to fill their spots with 2 excellent young men.

So, if you check out the web page www.3cm.org/pm-participants.html you'll find brief summaries of each of the 8 boys. In the picture shown above of Orbin's birthday party, we're missing Carlos, who had not yet arrived, and showing Mario in the bottom right corner -- Mario is the son of the couple that operate as our house parents for the boys.

For a group of 14 and 15 year olds who have never slept a day in their lives apart from their families, they have shown a remarkable adaptability and great spirit through the first 10 days. Even Christian, whom we sent for stitches after somebody wacked his thumb with a machete on Friday, has been a great young guy. We intended to take the boys to the Mayan ruins on the first Saturday of their participation, were unable to do so when Fredy and I ended up doing emergency interviews to replace the lad who returned with his family. However, we were able to take them out to Mario's parents' farm where they have a swimming pool -- again a first for just about all of the boys. We took them downtown to buy swimming suits (Laura found a variety for about $1 each) and then piled them into the back of the truck to go down a bumpy road to the farm. While they were swimming, Mario and I went looking for sugar cane for a snack for everybody (you just kind of chew on the stick) and when they finished, they climbed the coconut trees to shake down coconuts to drink. Not exactly the snacks we had when I was a boy, but they loved it.

The boys have started preparing vegetable beds and nursery shade protection for the agricultural component of their program and tomorrow they start attending junior high classes from 6:00pm to 10:00pm. They don't start carpentry classes at the trade school until the following Monday.

We could have filled this news update with pictures of just the home the boys are living in. Unfortunately, it was turned over to us in the condition of something that just survived a hurricane. However, several contractors later, we have a new kitchen, the walls scrubbed, sanded and then painted, all the light switches replaced (they were scary to touch) and light fixtures fixed. The place looks like a different house altogether.

Given that the school year is just about to get under way, we had our annual neighborhood clean-up campaign with 36 young children participating. The campaign consisted of three different days of cleaning up garbage from the streets and the children combed the neighborhood dragging their corn sacks to hold pop bottles, potato chip bags and just about everything else that produces waste since it's still contrary to our culture down here to put anything in a garbage can. However, it made the children happy as it gave them a chance to earn all the notebooks, pens, crayons, rulers, etc. that they need to start classes tomorrow. As the picture shows, there were kids from kindergarten up to grade 7 involved this year and Alma did a great job of organizing it without any help from me.

We're looking forward to having a group of volunteers come down from Canada this weekend to help us build a bridge across the creek that runs through the farm. It was -16 in Calgary today and +30 here, so I imagine that they'll enjoy it as well -- even though mixing concrete in +30 weather is not nearly as much fun as it sounds.

We always welcome your feedback, so feel free to contact me at phil@timko.ca.