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January 26, 2008
Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras

We are standing at the starting line, waiting for the shot that sends us off on another year. This year will be busier than the last, of course, with the addition of the second group of 8 young men from the villages. Intentionally I refer to them as young men rather than boys because despite being 14 or 15 years old, all 8 of them work full time to help their families survive.

We have moved to a different house since the house that we had last year was not capable of holding 16 participants plus dorm parents. The bonus of the new house is that it is new with excellent electrical and plumbing installations and a large cistern (for those not familiar with Santa Rosa de Copán, we only have water running through the municipal lines for a few hours each week, so water collection is very important). As a bonus, we have double the participants, but rent is less than double the previous house.

One novelty that will take some getting used to by the dorm mother and the boys themselves is that we purchased a washer and dryer on the weekend. With 16+ residents, washing by hand would require an additional worker which would have cost us more over the course of the year than the washer and dryer. However, neither our house parents nor the boys have ever used such a contraption, so I imagine we'll have some interesting stories before that becomes old news. The boys will have to learn as well as they are responsible for washing their own daily clothes where-as the dorm mom will only look after their school uniforms.

In the group that we have starting this year, 2 are being raised by their grandmas and the rest live at home with both parents. Still, out of the 16 boys in the program, none of them have running water inside their house, but all but one of them have water that at least comes to a tap near their house. All but 2 of the boys have some form of electricity in their houses, although the majority are wired such that any electronics are not likely to survive too long. One of the boys has a house made of cement blocks and the rest are adobe or bajareque (mud blocks or sticks plastered with mud).

The process that the boys go through to participate in the program is extensive. In the summer, we travel to visit the various rural schools in the zone we are targetting and introduce or remind the directors of the program and solicit their support in talking with propspective participants and their families. At this point we hand out brochures with the details and applications for participation. In October we collect the applications and in November we visit all of the applicants to see the environment from which they come. All of those who meet the initial requirements are invited to Santa Rosa with both parents for a day of interviews. That is the most intimidating part of the process for them, but we try to have fun with the interviews to lessen the impact on nerves while still exposing what kind of person they are and their motivation and commitment for participating. Fredy (our program coordinator) and Raul & José (both members of our board of directors) were instrumental in these interviews and each of us rank independently the interviewees to select the 8 most qualified candidates. This year we only selected 7 from this interview process and had to go back into the villages to find our 8th young man.

The new participants arrive on Sunday, so hopefully early next week we will be able to post their pictures and stories in the 'Participants' page of our Project Moses website. In addition, we'll post a picture of our new house parents as well -- Reina and Ermes.

On the youth center front, we are in the process of interviewing for a new coordinator as we had hired a new coordinator to replace Alma on January 15th, but the new coordinator notified us on January 14th that over Christmas life had changed somewhat and due to new responsibilities to look after her younger brother, she would not be able to fulfill her commitment. Today is the last day of interviews and we look forward to having somebody in place who will bring enthusiasm and creativity to La Roca so that we will have more than art programs that have been sponsored by Finland over the past 3 years.

Fundraising is well under way for this year and we encourage you to participate. If you would like one of the sponsorship brochures that Roger created, please contact us at the link below and we'll make sure that you promptly receive one. Donations are received by and receipted through 3CM who maintains the appropriate charitable organization status and reporting with the Canadian government. In addition to sponsoring the operations for one or more of the boys, we have sponsorship opportunities for capital projects on the farm such as the dormitory, the storage and processing shed and the farm keepers house.

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