September 19 , 2007
Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras
We're running in the stretch drive now. The boys in the Moses Project all returned from their week long holiday at the end of August ready and raring to go. This is the home stretch, as there are no more significant breaks until the end of the school year. One boy came back carrying the chicken pox and I had to take him back home last Friday, loaded with medicines to get him better and back with the group as fast as possible. Unfortunately we don't have the capacity here (no empty rooms for isolation) to handle anybody with a significant contagious disease, but both he and his family very graciously understood our situation.
The corn is almost ready to harvest. Apart from the veggies that the boys have been planting and harvesting both in the back yard of their residence and at the farm, we planted a few acres in the traditional rice and beans to make use of the productive capacity of the soil. Given the work that was involved in cleaning up the area prior to planting, I don't believe it will turn out to be a very profitable venture, but every penny counts and it helps the participants in the program to recognize our commitment to working towards self-sustainability. Right now, we're seeking three investors to provide a DOUBLE WHAMMY investment. (Notice how we intermingle technical terms with common vocabulary...) How it works is this: An individual, company, or group of people invest between $1,000 - $2,000 into 3CM. 3CM transfers 100% of that money to the Moses Project via APROCOLA and issues a tax receipt to the investor. The funds are used to buy food products from the Moses Project and these products are then delivered free-of-charge to one of the three orphanage organizations in Santa Rosa de Copán. There is Hogar San Jose which looks after the really little ones until they can be moved elsewhere. There is Hogar Paz & Bien which is the girls orphanage that Joe helps out with (for those who know Joe). Finally, there is Aldeas SOS which is a collection of 14 homes that house 6 children each with a house mom -- this is the organization that is now run by Raul, another member of APROCOLA's board. It's called the DOUBLE WHAMMY because it allows the boys and the project to sell their produce at retail rates (a portion of which stays with the boys and the balance supporting the program costs) and provides the most basic of necesities to the children in the investor designated orphanage. But we need action fast, because within a month we will have finished the harvest for beans and corn which make up the vast majority of quantity of produce available.
I spent a couple days yesterday taking Diego and his parents to Tegucigalpa for an interview for a US Transit Visa for his trip to the youth conference in Australia. (Check out the May 5 news item for details.) Unfortunately, but as expected, the visa was denied -- the United States has paid to fly back 22,000 deportees to Honduras so far this year and as a result they make it very difficult to obtain visas in the first place. The good news is that we notified OXFAM Australia right away and they issued a new airline ticket for Diego that goes down to Chile and across to Sydney next Thursday. On behalf of Diego, we want to thank Phil Cunningham very specifically for his support that allowed us to cover Diego's costs here in Honduras.
September 10th is Day of the Child in Honduras and like every other year since I've been here, we had a party at La Roca. We fed well over 100 children with chicken, rice and veggies before topping it off with a couple piñatas and goody bags. Loaded with sugar, the kids were able to give the jungle gym built by the group last year a good work-out. To offset all the sugar we dished out at the end, we included the remaining toothbrushes that have accumulated (the extras)from from donations by Dr. Ahpin and various groups that have come over the past 2 years. Alma did a fantastic job of soliciting support from local businesses so that the celebrations cost APROCOLA very little.
Last week I took 4 construction guys out to the farm with me and we finally poured the concrete decks on both sides of the bridge. We had left it since the group built the bridge in February to ensure that the material we had put in to fill in the edges had compacted enough to help support these bridge decks. In Canada we would have used machines to compact the ground, but in the absence of those we use time, rain and foot traffic. We finished by noon on Friday, so I took the guys in for chicken and chips downtown Santa Rosa where we caught the last of the grade schools marching in the independence day parade. The following day, I took the boys from the Moses Project downtown to see the junior high schools marching. While the majority of the students march in their school uniform, others parade in traditional costumes that are intricately hand painted -- one girls dress was a patchwork of tree bark.
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