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November 6, 2011
Cochrane, AB

WOW, how time flies... This has been a fantastic year in Honduras. The news is full of negative stories about drugs, crime, recessions and poverty, but the good news continues to develop at the Moses Project.

I have to admit that I was surprised when I arrived at the farm in Santa Rosa in October to help prepare for the 3rd annual graduation and found the place full of little girls from Joe's orphanage in town. Turns out the nuns from the orphanage bring out various groups of girls every two months or so for a field trip. I'm not sure if it was educational or not, but the girls sure seemed to be having fun.

Twelve new students joined the gang at Santa Rosa in February to commence their journey of 3 years intensive studies to develop into the kind of leaders that are so desparately needed to develop their country. As mentioned in the December, 2010 news update, Marvin remained after graduating to join Ayurin who was in the first year graduating class. Ayurin and Marvin help out the instructors when they need to divide the classes into smaller groups with distinctive objectives. They are also the primary designates responsible for looking after the chickens.

There was progress and challenges this year. With the rather sudden departure of Fredy Torres at the end of last year to take up a full time teaching position at the national university's campus in Danli, we were left without a qualified leader in the agricultural component of the project. Elias, who completed his requirements to graduate with his degree in agro-industrial engineering, stepped up his involvement from being a practicum volunteer to be the interim agro coordinator. This was a big step for Elias and we appreciate his commitment while we searched for a replacement for Freddy. We were very fortunate to find an agronomist (also an engineer), Jorge Sevilla, who is the kind of man who demonstrates the kind of leadership that we are trying to instill in the boys.

The results are plantain trees that are thriving rather than simply surviving. Pineapples that are producing and clean or scrubb grass. Hundreds of citric fruit trees that are being well tended and on their way to producing valuable lemons and oranges. Hardwood trees that are being cared for so that they can realize their potential to contribute to sustainability in the years ahead. Rabbits that are multiplying like, well, like rabbits. A chicken coop that is in good repair and loaded with chickens. Bee hives that are being studdied to be put into production. Sheep that are healthy and well protected. Coffee plants that are absolutely loaded with coffee just a few short weeks before we start to harvest. THIS IS AMAZING!

We are back in negotiations once again with a local foundation to obtain 50 sheep. The deal is simply that after one year, we have to return 50 sheep to the foundation - presumably lambs from the sheep. While we don't particularly want to look after 50 sheep, it gives us the ability to provide work and income for some of the graduating boys that wish to continue their studies and allows us to maintain in our educational program sufficient sheep to provide some income and food for the program itself.

On October 28th, we had our 3rd graduation. What a party! The Western Bank of Honduras sent us their marimba band to contribute to the festivities and the Western Honduras Minerals company, who have sponsored two boys from the region of their operations this year, showed up to participate and to contribute a cofee sheller (yes, coffee needs to be 'shelled' - it's essentially the opposite of a cherry where we take off the soft exterior and keep the seed).

The grads showed confidence as they each shared a few words of thanks with the crowd gathered to celebrate with them. I believe the more emotional part of the ceremony were the words shared by Osman's mother who had just lost her husband a few months prior. The appreciation she expressed to his classmates and the staff for their support in a tough year was quite moving. No lesser impacting were the words of appreciation by Richar's mother - another single mom who was incredibly grateful that her son was given the opportunity to escape the extreme poverty that the family has struggled with from the start.

The boys had planted grass and flowers around the beautiful fountain and sidewalks that were installed early this spring. This makes the front of the residence equal in beauty to the environment around it. That statement jumps over a whole lot of work that was done back in February and March by two groups of volunteers that came down to provide some of the finishing touches to the property. It was Art and Hank, the first developers Timko worked with back in the '90's, who came down to put in the sidewalks in the inner courtyard. Dan and Jesse joined the trip to provide some strong backs to mixing concrete. The group that followed them consisted of our Vancouver partners, with Brian and Christiane each returning for the nth time, joined by Don and his daughter Amanda. while it was a great experience for Amanda, it was also fun to see how the boys reacted to a beautiful blond girl suddenly working with them, painting and shovelling dirt. None of us will forget those late nigh ping pong tournaments. Geovanni and Louis joined us from the Timko sub-contractor ranks and helped us paint out the remaining rooms in the residence.

The focus, however, always remains on the boys. Thanks to support from people like you, 27 boys had the opportunity to study this year. That's no small feat -- especially when you consider that the intensity of the program these boys 'survive' is incredible and is going to reproduce our investment in them time and again in their communities. I wish you could all have been there to hear the words of Osman and Richar's mothers -- appreciation to each of you who help make it possible.

Update on our financial objectives at the moment:

We appreciate your prayers and if you have any great ideas or are willing to share your blessings with these future leaders that we are raising up in rural Honduras, please contact us at phil@timko.ca. Alternatively, check out our Fundraising Campaign or Donate pages to get involved. See the Donate page to find out how Alberta residents can get 50% of their donation back (or simply double up your donation...).