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.


  1. We, of AHMEN, are looking forward to with SIFAT this summer. Thanks, Michael, for explaining our relationship, methods and goals for the AHMEN SIFAT Initiative.
    Tom Camp

  2. It's such an exciting time for AHMEN!

  3. I believe what you say about working together. Together people can get real things done, sometimes twice as fast. Keep me posted on how I can help.

  4. Glad I found you again! I am not sure how to subscribe to your blog. I wanted to be sure and keep up with what you all are doing. :)