March 31 , 2007
Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras
They're gone! OK, not permanently... just for Semana Santa (Holy Week) and then they'll be back the following Monday.
The guys have adapted very well to life in Santa Rosa and are excited about the things they are learning. Fredy spends each morning teaching techniques for improving agricultural production. A large part of the first month was spent purely on developing organic liquid fertilizer which is then sprayed onto the plants to enhance root growth and provide protection against invading insects. Mustard, apparently, is also good insect protection if planted around the outside edge of the veggie patch.
The boys were fortunate to have a guest instructor from the United States visit the trade school where they spend their afternoons. They were able to receive training in artistic wood lathe work. They produced egg holders to start with and proceeded to design and produce decorative candy dishes, wine glasses and candle holders with self contained free floating rings. The instructor was impressed with their attention and progress. Now they are divided into 2 teams: one building a china cabinet and the other book shelf. The guys are excited that they developed the designs, budgets, etc. for these projects.
It is hard to comprehend their junior high school where they spend each week day evening from 6:00 - 10:00pm. There is a constant request for funds to buy basic textbooks and homework assignments that seem to me impossible to complete unless one has fast access to the internet and the knowledge of how to use it (I spent 3 hous on Friday night looking for art from the 'neolithic' period, the bronze age, the iron age...) However, the boys are doing well and for whatever reason seem to enjoy going to school :)
We are in the process of 2 major projects at the farm. The first is the installation of a bridge across a small creek that spans about 25 feet at the top. We had a group of volunteers from Cochrane and the Lower Mainland come down in February and launch that one (plus pay for all the materials). They exceeded the expectations of the local engineer that helped us design it. We had 5 local guys help us with the heavy work of mixing concrete by hand and the bucket brigade proved very capable of filling the wall forms in rapid fashion. We had a nurse, a doctor, a banker, a receptionist, a few students and a couple construction guys all cutting and tieing re-bar, shoveling gravel, etc. The boys in the program helped out for the first couple mornings and then reverted to their training program with Fredy. Thank you very much to the team that sacrificed a week of their work back home to help us further develop the training farm.
The second project is the electrification of the farm. The boys in the Project have been quite involved in this one -- digging holes for the power poles and helping us move the monsters into place. A local friend (one of the very first volunteers at La Roca - our youth center in town) called to say that he and his brothers had a week or so free due to a delay in another project and wondered if now would be a good time to put in the power to the farm. Yippeee! We had all the poles in place before the neighbor finally informed us that he wanted $7,000 for us to connect to the main power line that runs along the road in front of our farm (he had installed it up to his farm on the far side of us). We'd been chasing him for several months without success. Anyways, it took one day to obtain permissions from the national electric company and the neighbor on the other side of our farm to put in our own main line from the big lines running to Santa Rosa. It cost us an extra $2,000 and an extra 4 days to do this, but that's still $5,000 cheaper than the alternative. Now we just have to wait about 3 weeks for the electric company to check the calibration of our power meter and come out to pop it into place for us to have lights and plug-ins at the farm.
That reminds me. Luis (who looks after the farm for us full time) and his wife Griselda had a baby a week and a half ago. Her name is Jasmine and she's a healthy little girl. I'm sure they're looking forward to having eletricity in the little home there on the farm -- I don't think they've ever lived in a home with electricity before. Imagine still using a flashlight or candles to find out why your baby is crying in the night.
At the start of March, th e boys and girls at La Roca proudly put on a presentation of drama (on stilts) and music. I was very happy to see a larger than normal turn-out of parents for this presentation. The instructors have often mentioned the lack of parental support as a critical issue in the 'drop-out-rate' of youth in programs in our neighborhood, so it was encouraging to see new parents in the crowd.