Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Friday, March 11, 2011

The AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative

     If you have been avoiding your local AHMEN representatives then you probably have not heard of the developing relationship between AHMEN, CHIMES, and a group called SIFAT. I know...I know...you gave up ice cream for lent because you were tired of “seeing the fat.” Why in the world, you might ask, do we want to see the fat now?? 

     Rather than sticking to our current methods of “giving fish” and “teaching folks to fish,” SIFAT is helping us to “teach communities how to make the hooks, fishing poles, nets, etc” with local resources in order to reduce unhealthy dependence on relief and help move our mission efforts closer to sustainability. For more info on sustainability click here: Papá Gordo's Page. 

      SIFAT aims to empower Hondurans in the three following ways:
    • responsible leadership and community empowerment practices
    • the benefits of sustainable practices and development
    • the skills to develop readily available technologies that meet basic human needs

Some students will study the correlation between cattle production and deforestation
     In the UMVIM training manual, Cross-Cultural Servanthood, Jason Saunders calls missionaries to not only give to individuals but also to help communities become self-sufficient. Saunders says of his missionary experience:  

I constantly offered to do things for [Boli Zhiang] that he graciously refused. One time, I offered to get his  computer fixed for free. He thanked me profusely yet had his computer fixed at a store. I was confused and troubled by this. Then his [friend] explained that to be in my debt, without an obvious means of returning the favor, would be, for him, a loss of face because he was ten years older than me. This meant that if I wanted to do something for him, I had to arrange for him to help me in some way. (141)

In short, we must work to assure that the support we share is regifted all across Honduras.

      This is why SIFAT has given AHMEN the opportunity to work with Byron Morales.  Byron Morales is working right now in Cusuna, Honduras guiding community leaders through the first part of a three year training program. His students have committed to working with health workers (American, Cuban, and Honduran) and are learning basic methods of approaching the two most common causes of illness in the ¾ world, smoke inhalation and unclean water. First year students also learn to diagnose problems in their own communities as well as how to build a network of support to confront these problems.  In August they will graduate to year two where they will focus on issues such as sexual abuse, malaria prevention, conflict resolution, as well as community confidence and development. During the third year, Byron will meet with his students on an individual basis to help each fine-tune a specialization of their choosing. Finally, students cement working relationships with other organizations and program graduates for the overall benefit of their communities and country.

      I firmly believe in the adage a Cherokee friend of mine uses “take it slow and make it happen.” However, a more appropriate phrase should be used here.  For it is “now or never.” Our relationship with the people of Honduras should not one-sided but polygonal.  Let's invite our Honduran friends to join us in the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative so that our shared goals may flourish in ways we have yet to imagine!

      The individual efforts of AHMEN and CHIMES teams are as necessary as ever. As a veteran missionary I see consistent visible progress throughout the country. Nonetheless, this does not mean that we are doing anything perfectly or that we are too good to ask for help. Having a SIFAT-trained leader on the ground in communities across Honduras means that we will be that much more effective at eliminating poverty and ushering in social justice throughout Honduras. I ask of each of you for your prayers, your donations, and your letters of support. As the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative moves into its second year and expands into new areas, let us all take this opportunity to do what must be done now.

Please contact me with your suggestions, comments, and ideas about to best achieve in Honduras what Vandana Shiva calls, an “Earth Democracy.”

Thanks to Byron Morales, Ivan Romani, Tom and Judy Camp, Tom and Debora Arnold, Lou Altman, Benny Rowe, Lexie Hilton, Hugh and Mary Guffy for being who they are.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Limon Nurture Center Fundraiser Was Great Success!!

Last Sunday Reverend Dale Capron prayed that we would raise the exact amount of money needed to support the Limon Nuture Center for another year. With the help of an awesome base of domestic missionaries from the community, enough donations and pledges were made to help keep the program going for another year!

Arriving at the church on Friday afternoon at around 5:00 I had my doubts about how successful we were going to be. The barbecue was prepared, and the set-up crew was there. However, that was about it. There were still last minute decisions being made, and not all of the food had been bought! Knowing the success prayer had given me in the past week, I took a moment.

After returning from Winn-Dixie, things had changed quite a bit! All the tables were decorated with matching table cloths and centerpieces brought back from all around Honduras. Lou Altman and Anna Capron had placed fabric leaves with pictures of Limon's orphans pasted to them on each table. Things were starting to come together, but there were very few guests and no butter or sour cream for the baked potatoes! It was 6:15! The dinner was to start in fifteen minutes, and there were two big setbacks! Returning to Winn-Dixie, I was again a doubter. Had two months of planning been for naught? Again, I directed my spirits inward.

Plan and Pray

Back from the store for a second time in an hour, the scene had changed dramatically. The church parking lot was full! I'm talking Easter Bunny full! I walked in with the potato accoutrements, handed them to Chef Beryl, and peered from the kitchen into the fellowship hall. The room was bustling with several dozen people...most of whom I had never met before!

The positive energy of the room captivated me so much that my mind went from party planner to party! Whose table would I join? Would I have chicken or pork? Who are those people? Wow, it smells good! And back to planning-mode...the people were there, but how were we going to unite them as a new generation of domestic missionaries in support of the Limon Nurture Center? Danny Arnold, Brother Dale, Anna, and I talked about what to say, but then word came from the kitchen crew that they needed ten extra minutes to prepare the fresh dishes. It was time to quit micromanaging God's plan for Friday evening and let the good times roll! 

Just as there was a lull in the roaring conversation and smacking lips, as if he were waiting on the Lord's signal, Danny Arnold stood up and told us how the Limon Nurture Center began. Speaking calmly and passionately Danny reminded us that service work “is not about what we want to give but asking communities what they need.” With every eyelid in the room holding back tears of empathy, he closed with the question “What can you do to help?” Just as soon as Danny sat down, Anna Capron stood up to tell us how the soup kitchen of 2008 turned into the Limon Nurture Center of today. With the love of a mother's heart, Anna expressed the importance of expanding our familial devotion outside of our homes. “I left my newborn son in Alabama, but after seeing his face all over Limon in the smiles of the town's orphans, I could not stand back and see a generation grow up without a place to find a smile and a hug.” 

Finally, Pastor Dale showed us how easy it is to help. His explaining how only $10 a month would feed a child five meals a week made supporting the Limon Nurture Center more approachable. “You and nine friends can send $1 a month to fill a belly. You and a neighbor can use your $5 footlong money to help end hunger-related illness. You and your Sunday School class can start a 'find a penny, send a penny' ministry” to liberate a child from the burden of searching for means of survival. Dale ended by asking everyone that sponsors a child to take the picture of their child from the table and place it near their most prized possessions around the house. Every table was faceless by the end of the night...

Corbitt "Mission Man" White, Samantha Jacobi, and I are sponsoring Dellia in 2011

Through continued preparation and prayer, hunger and malnutrition will not be an issue for Limon's orphan population in 2011. The world's problems can be solved one by one. Driving home that night I felt like God was giving me one of those “I told you so” moments. 

Not a doubt nor a fear, Not a sigh nor a tear, Can abide while we trust and obey.”

Special thanks to The Hilton, Nichols, and Williams families, Lou Altman, all the guests, and donors!