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Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Spirit of Christmas -- In Honduras

AHMEN – SIFAT Initiative



HONDURAS TRAINING PROGRAM REPORT



CUSUNA Community Agents Training Program: Workshop II – Intermedium Level

The program continues at the Cusuna community, the base community to concentrate a group of 52 community agents in leadership development. The Second Workshop of the Intermedium level took place with a number of 45 attendants and 7 of them with justified absences. We plan two more workshops during the months of February and June, with a possible fifth workshop in August in case of uncovered material. We expect to graduate from the Second Year no later than next summer.



We enjoyed special visits from Kathy Bryson, SIFAT’s International Training Coordinator, who

encouraged the agents to continue their involvement in the program and search for new life in the

communities.

Sara Mamani of Five Talents



We also took great pride in the presence of special guest instructor Ms. Sara Mamani of the Five Talents Organization in Bolivia. Sara taught an informative, progressive lesson on microfinances over the course of the three day training. The program of Five Talents trains community leaders to organize small groups for savings and credit with monetary contributions of the group members.

Sara with the agents' full attention




As a result of the information and methodology received on microfinances, the agents organized

savings groups by community areas. The groups organized a committee to send information

about the organization process and to report monthly about the saving funds beginning January

2013. (It would be neat for AHMEN teams to follow up on this new development!)



The group was highly motivated by the facilitator who used living testimonies of successful

groups in Bolivia and Guatemala. Living testimony is the “proof of the pudding” for workshops like the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative.

Josue, instructor of the Deaf School, continues attending regularly the training. e is a challenge to the other community agents. His effort and enthusiastic participation is a great motivation to the all group. 




Ms. Sara Mamani and Byron Morales will pursue follow up and future visits to continue with the

strategy on microfinances and the multiplication of the experience among the community agents' home communities. This is an important step for the coming third year of training where the community agents must start their “dissertation” for graduation, the development of a community project related to the different fields of training.

Wilinton, one of the rising starts out of La Moskitia




Goals for the coming months include:


-coordinating with Nahun Flores the visits and follow up to the organization of the saving
groups: December & January.

-continue reporting and communication with Sara Mamani to follow up the organizational process and build a bridge of communication between the agents and Sara

-coordinating next Workshop-III with the Firemen Team from Tocoa to facilitate the subject on
First Aid and Emergencies: Byron & Nahun: February 18-20

-find a new source to support Nahun Flores as chief facilitator and liaison to the
communities: 2013

Edenia, in the center of the picture, nutritional project director in Cusuna, is responsible for part of the logistic (meals) during the workshops. Despite the time she needs for this logistic, she continues attending the workshops and accomplishing the learning goals.




If you think you would like to be a part of something bigger than yourself but you don't know what, consider making a monthly contribution to the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative starting in 2013.  Sponsorship works, and you can be the difference! The three ASI workshops spread throughout Honduras are changing the way communities feel about their position in the world. Please join me in helping Honduran families transform their own situations and those of their fellow citizens. Contact me today!

Together, we are the difference.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Community, Collaboration, and Christmas

My dad is the biggest Christmas movie fan I know. He claims he doesn't commence reviewing his extensive collection until after Thanksgiving, but much like Christmas these days, he really starts well before! 

You haven't watched any Christmas movies yet??
Why are we called to celebrate Christmas for more than just one day? Why has our Christmas culture expanded from just the celebration of Jesus' birth to Santa Claus, tree decoration, gift-giving, caroling, decorating our yards, kissing our sweethearts under the mistletoe, and a general continuation of the Thanksgiving meal?


https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=c32d8eb857&view=att&th=13b617830e55a852&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P_E4UzOdb_NznP12_LgA1Iv&sadet=1354549992106&sads=0gjoUBE0I2nnXlvs-JOZBrUx_NIWell, if I had to muse, I would muse that Christmas represents that which is good about the human spirit – community. The Christmas movies my dad likes the most are the ones where families or towns come together in the face of adversity to guide one of their own toward a brighter future. By extension, I think this may be why I love the philosophy behind the AHMEN-SIFATInitiative!


ASI, AHMEN's Community EmpowermentProgram, is a combination of communities. SIFAT (Servants In Faith And Technology) and AHMEN (Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network) represent two communities of volunteers. While SIFAT equips individuals from around the world with the mentality and capacity they need to meet basic human needs, AHMEN teams supplement the medical and educational infrastructure of vulnerable communities only in Hondurans. Together, through a relationship conceived in community, SIFAT has sent its chief Latin American educator to share his skills and set the stage for generational empowerment in Honduras.

Community, Sustainability, Solidarity


When asked recently what his major role was as a facilitator for the long-term success of both SIFAT and AHMEN in Honduras, Byron Morales said “I am here to teach individuals to identify the changes they would like to see in their communities and how to realize those changes.” With SIFAT's Byron Morales working directly with the communities where AHMEN teams work, we are able to maintain the type of ongoing presence in Honduras many of us are called to but are unable to answer for various reasons.  As a result, many of the current focci of AHMEN teams will change.  We AHMENers must build relationships with the Community Agents now being trained in order to see how our roles as missionaries will transform.  After completing the three-year program, Community Agents in Belaire, Cusuna, and Yorito will serve as much stronger, more stable bridges toward the empowered Honduras we envision for future generations.

Honduras is not our native home, but many of us still choose to invest much of our time and money in the communities we have visited there. Our relationships with the Banana Republic may have started small yet, like Christmas, have evolved into something much more significant. Our regular teams to Honduras are needed just as much as ever, but the collaboration we can also offer through ASI is the same sense of community that touches our hearts in movies like “It's a Wonderful Life.”

Luz Maria is a leader among the misquito group attending the workshops. The last day of the workshop she received the news that her little child felt down from a window and broke his leg. The group of agents decided immediately to support her raising money to pay for his trip and the trip she'll have to do with the child to them closest hospital 6 hours from the community. Solidarity is an important attitude developed by the agents and a model to the communities.

Won't you consider setting aside $5-10/month to help 180 Community Agents continue their training? If you already support a project, contact me to learn about how an investment in ASI further informs that project. Make checks out to AHMEN with AHMEN-SIFAT on the “For” line and send to:

AHMEN
Sharon Bowie
516 Ridgeview Dr.
Jasper Al 35504

Stay tuned for the latest report from the Cusuna workshop later this week....!

Together, we are the difference.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

AHMEN General Meeting 2012: How can we do better?

As a theme for this year's AHMEN General Meeting we asked our missionaries to consider how we can all do a better job of partnering with Honduran communities.  In-lieu of team reports, team leaders and representatives recalled experiences over the past year to share "teachable" moments with the rest of us.  Here is a snapshot from two weekends ago.





From Front Left Clockwise: Rev. Genia Garrett, Michael Franklin, Tom Corson, Hugh and Mary Guffey, Ken Corson, Tony Ponceti, and Johnathan



Ken Corson and I enjoyed sharing stories.



I would love to be a fly on the wall when these two talk turkey!




Sometimes it's just fun meeting folks who share in your passion to love.





We held a Team Leader Refresher Training..."Catch the talking stick!"



Tina Corley, of the "Feed My Sheep" team, compared her team's water purification techniques.



Tony Ponceti from G.O.A.L.S. Mentoring discussed his own experiences with water purification.




We agreed that every team should participate in water projects.  Sawyer offers a missionary discount through December. 



We also agreed that every team should learn to use and utilize the AHMEN Electronic Database for team record keeping.  Contact "Data" Bruce McFadden for more information.



We held round table discussions on clean water technology, container shipping, evangelism, grant writing, and communication/networking. 



And of course the AHMEN "Chiefs" enjoyed a round table discussion of their own!



Johnathan of Dominican Republic-Haiti and Joshua of USA-Honduras were there.


And we all looked above...




toward Guffey!







Mike Escara of "Mano a Mano" proved the value of networking...contact us for the rest of the story!





Tom Arnold talked about working with AHMEN-SIFAT Agents in La Moskitia.





And Tom Corson discussed the future of SIFAT in Honduras.





We focused our attention on water, communication, and appropriate relief and development.  Methods of evangelism also took center stage.  Each of us demonstrated our love for Honduras in different ways, but different does not mean deficient.  At the this year's General Meeting AHMEN leadership joined together to compare notes and learn from each other.  And if this "meeting of the minds" was any indication, we may just get something done in 2013!

Have you thought about including the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative as a part of your regular holiday donation cycle?  Contact me today to learn more about how just a small monthly donation will enable almost 200 Honduran leaders battle HIV/AIDS, malaria, and waterborne illnesses in their home communities.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

ASI-Yorito: A Honduran Introduction

Friends and Neighbors, the blog below is more important than anything I could ever write about Honduras.  I like to think I have many valid observations and life experiences relating to humanitarian relief and development in Honduras, but what I think matters less because I am, in fact, not Honduran.  The letter below comes from Fanny Amarilis Aviles Velasquez of the SIFAT-AHMEN Workshops in Yorito, Yoro Honduras.  I wanted to wait until election coverage died down, but I’m simply too excited to wait any longer…!

Taller SIFAT AHMEN
Yorito es un municipio que se encuentra al sur del departamento de Yoro. Su población vive de la agricultura y ganadería y en menor escala el café.

Yorito is a town located in the southern part of the department of Yoro.  Its population sustains itself through agriculture, raising livestock, and small-scale coffee production.

Instructor Byron Morales with lead agent Melvin Lopez


El Programa de Empoderamiento Comunitario de AHMEN y SIFAT, es un sueño realizado!!!!!!!!!! Fueron 2 años de planificación, organización, reuniones y visitas de nuestro enlace Byron Morales. Esto lo socializamos con Instituciones presentes, personas voluntarias, patronatos y autoridades locales. Este año 2012 quedara escrito en la historia de nuestro municipio con el programa de formación de Agentes Comunitarios en Salud Integral.

The AHMEN-SIFAT Community Empowerment Program is a dream come true!!!!!!  It took two years of planning, organizing, meetings, and visits from our link Byron Morales.  In conjunction with the many institutions, volunteers, boards, and authorities represented through the workshops, the year 2012 will go down in Yorito history as the time that our community formed the Integrated Community Health Agent Program.

Este proyecto vendrá a transformar las condiciones de vida de personas, familias y las comunidades de nuestro municipio, que por años hemos estado aislados de derecho y oportunidades. Formamos un equipo de apoyo del proyecto conformado por todas las Instituciones de Yorito, cada uno de nosotros nos hemos comprometido a ser el soporte principal de este taller.

This project will transform the lives of individuals, families and communities of our town, which for years have been isolated from rights and opportunities. We formed a team comprised of project support institutions from Yorito, and each of us have committed to be the mainstay of this workshop.

Comprometidos con nuestra comunidad a servirle, contamos con un grupo de 55 personas con diferentes edades, niveles educativos y comunidades, con un gran potencial, un semillero listo para germinar en nuestra tierra Yorito.

Committed to serving our community is a group of 55 people of various ages, educational levels, communities, with great potential, and a seed ready to germinate in our land Yorito.

Hugs...What a teaching technique!


Me siento feliz porque fue un gran comienzo aprovecharemos al máximo este taller, nuestras comunidades nos necesitan, tenemos tantos problemas, principalmente de educación, salud, seguridad alimentaria, violencia intrafamiliar, medio ambiente y más.

I am so happy to be able to take full advantage of this workshop because our communities need us.  We have so many problems, especially education, health, food security, domestic violence, environment and more.

Lo más importante es que nuestras comunidades cuentan con lo mejor RECURSO HUMANO, personas voluntarias con un don de servir a los demás.

The most important thing is that our communities have the best human resources, volunteers with a gift of serving others.

Daré breve información de los participantes en general, El centro de Salud envió su personal voluntario, el cual cuentan con años de voluntariado en sus comunidades estas personas nos servirán de gran ejemplo e inspiración para todo el grupo aprenderemos de ellos de sus experiencias y desempeño, en sus comunidades.

I will give some brief information of our participants.  In general, the health center sent its volunteers, who have years of experience volunteering in their communities.  These individuals will serve as great examples and inspiration for the whole group as they learn from their experiences and performances in their home communities.

The faces of change in Yorito...


Diez Estudiantes del Instituto San Pedro único centro educativo en Yorito ellos comienzan una carrera profesional los cuales han elegido un bachillerato en medio ambiente, vendrán a enriquecer conocimientos en dicho taller. Así también jóvenes emprendedores que son apoyados por algunas instituciones como ser.

In addition, ten students have come from the San Pedro Institute, the only school in Yorito, with professional training in environmental sciences.  Their knowledge will enrich the workshop, and workshop training will serve as a practical application of academic studies.  

FIPAH y ALFASIC DE HONDURAS, estas instituciones cuentan con alternativas de Educación ellos pueden estudiar y aprender un oficio para su futuro , jóvenes que por circunstancias de la vida no continuaron en una escuela oficial, y es allí donde ambas instituciones damos la oportunidad, Porque???? Porque son Jóvenes con Derecho a un Futuro, personas Humildes con deseos de aprender y superarse para ser y formar parte fundamental en el desarrollo de sus mismas comunidades.

FIPAH and ALFASIC OF HONDURAS provide educational alternatives for students who, due to life circumstances, could not continue in a formal academic setting. Why????  Because there are young people with the right to a future, humble people wanting to learn and grow, and individuals ready to become central parts in the development of their own communities.


 Amigos en este primer taller contamos con la presencia del representante de la FAO en Yorito, sé que esto será de mucho apoyo y beneficio para los próximos talleres. El equipo de apoyo tiene programado el siguiente taller la segunda semana del mes de Enero del año 2013.

Friends, in this first workshop we have the presence of the representative of FAO in Yorito, I know this will be very supportive and beneficial for future workshops. The support team has scheduled the next workshop in the second week of January 2013.

Me estaré comprometiendo cada mes de enviarle informe de las actividades de próximo taller preparado por el equipo de apoyo.

I'll be committing each month to send report next workshop activities prepared by the support team.

Together, we are the difference.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Electrifying Shalom: 2012

Hello readers,  I have a report from Dr. Tom Camp's recent visit to Honduras.    Empowering women and reducing ecological impact are two goals which have to be at the forefront of our mission.  Below is Dr. Camp's report on how both are happening at Shalom!

Shalom is a home for young ladies from Honduras who are seeking a better life with safety, education, schooling, Christian environment, and helping others a priority.


Who lives there?
-A house mother and 15 ladies ranging in age from 13 to 23 years.
Where is it located?
-La Ceiba, Honduras

What are the expenses?

Typical Honduran wiring
-Two or three years ago Sandy and Sister Eleanor(Cruzadas de Evangilico), the ladies who are the brains and "go to" persons for Shalom, told me the number one expense for the entire mission compound where Shalom is located is electricity.



Why does their electricity cost so much?
-The transformer is old and inefficient.
-The wiring is old and inefficient.
-Electricity is just generally expensive.

The way electricity "works" in Copan

I "happened" to mention this to a friend that works at The Southern Company in the USA and, after a lot of work and money on her part, she delivered a brand spanking new transformer to the compound in Honduras.  After typical Honduran red tape, Sandy and Sister Eleanor now have the transformer up and running. 

Electricity at Shalom thanks to Partnership!



Has this made any difference?
You Bet! Again three things have changed.
1. The monthly bill is lower.
2. The electricity is steady and therefore not burning out their computers and costly appliances.
3. A whole section of the neighborhood now has reliable electricity.

Apparently I am “obsessed” with the idea of partnering since I gave a recent talk on that in Copan, Honduras, and the Electrifying of Shalom is a great example. Take a look at this...



Who is helping to electrify Shalom more cheaply?

-AHMEN (our NGO)
-A Friend of AHMEN and her friends, and a whole bunch of electrical engineers who work at the Southern Company
-The Southern Company itself
-Dole Fruit company (for cheap transportation)
-Cruzadas (the home of Shalom)
-Honduras friend of Shalom (an electrical engineer)
-Honduras Electrical Company
Typical

Ain't partnership grand?!

So this is a great big "THANK YOU" to all the folks who had anything to do with the purchase, transportation and installation of the transformer.
What a delight it is to know and work with all of you. You make me feel so lucky, or as my friend Bucket would say "blessed". If any of you would like to visit and see for yourself, just say the word, and we can arrange it.

Vaya con Dios,

Together, we are the difference.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

AHMEN Effectiveness Training

ser·en·dip·i·ty
   /noun
1.
an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2.
good fortune; luck


I mean how lucky could I be?  The week before my first scheduled AHMEN Team Leader Training event, I was invited to attend and speak at an UMVIM, SEJ “Go and Serve: A YoungAdult Team Leader Training Weekend” lead by the best of the best, Paulette West and Cristin Farrington.

The folks above have committed to transform the world through “Christian Love in Action”


Paulette and Cristin did a great job organizing their workshop.  I especially enjoyed the way they modeled each of the sections within the UMVIM, SEJ training manual for participants.  Partnering with Urban Ministry, trainees stayed overnight and trained at Walnut Grove UMC in Midfield. Trainees reviewed the UMVIM training manual on Friday evening, and we joined an Urban Ministry mission project with the Joe Rush Center to help paint a local grandmother's home. To end the weekend, we returned to Midfield to conclude training and hear from guest speakers Kristan Lewis Walker, Jeremy Walker, and ME!

Cristin and Paulette must know what is on my heart because they assigned me the coolest section in the UMVIM manual...the missionary lifestyle and charity to justice component. I told some stories about my history as a volunteer in Honduras, but I'm not going to tell you which ones here. You'll have to come to my next training session to hear for yourself...

Whether veteran or new, these are your newly trained AHMEN Team Leaders!


The “Go and Serve” training was excellent preparation for the following Saturday when I was joined by the most amazing group of AHMENers. Friday night before the training I told my mom that I anticipated 5-10 people at the most. Much to my delight, however, Hugh and Mary Guffey, Jim and Emilie Sims, Mary “Butterfly” Capps and Lauren Watkins, Lynn Giedinghagen, Magan Hamrick, Melody and Hunter Johnson, Lou Altman, Andrea Altman, Josue Altman, Caden Camp, Casey Farrington, Cindy Richards, and Dr.Reverend Regenia Garrett all darkened the doors of Christ UMC to train as team leaders!

From Left: Casey Farrington, Cindy Richards, Mary "Butterfly" Capps


In addition to 16 trainees' attendance, I especially enjoyed the participation. Some of the most useful traits one can have in a team member are openness and curiosity...this group had both. Whenever a personal experience would have helped add some “umph” to a particular section of the handbook, our AHMENers were there to share. Whenever a tough topic presented a point for further exploration, these team leaders freely asked questions. Even better, when some disagreed with my conjectures, we were able to discuss freely without throwing mud or packing up our toys. I feel like every single individual present added something special to the training that would have otherwise been lacking.

From Left: Hunter Hamrick, Melody Hamrick, Magan Hamrick, Jim Sims, and Michael Franklin


Thank you to UMVIM, SEJ for the privilege of being empowered to train AHMEN leadership. Thank you to Christ UMC for giving me a place to host our AHMEN Team Leader Training. Finally, thank you AHMEN for trusting me to lead you through the process of becoming the best team leader you can be.

Where is the road taking you?



 We have all been called to Honduras to make a difference. Training, reflection, research, and preparation will ensure we make a positive difference. We are a blessed group of individuals with differing beliefs but common dreams that more Hondurans can live more just lives. Let's continue to do this as a group. We can achieve little of significance separately, but together, we are the difference.

Friday, October 12, 2012

ASI-Yorito Begins!


Sustainability, appropriate technology, long-term development, effective mission work, social justice. These are terms and phrases AHMEN has been coming to embody in the last few years as a result of our  strengthening relationships with UMVIM and SIFAT.

 

During the summer of 2010 I was blessed with the opportunity to spread word about the coming AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative to several communities in Honduras. I want to say thank you to Dr. Fran Kunda of CHHF for letting me join her team to Limon. I did a lot of “growing up” in Limon, and I am overjoyed that several of my friends there are attending workshops at ASI-Cusuna. I also want to say thank you to both C.D. and Linda Tripp for letting me join their team to an unfamiliar place called Yorito. After only a few days in the mountain community I was overcome by its tremendous social capital. The Cusuna workshop officially began that fall, and now, two years later, the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative of Yorito is also a reality!

Byron Morales at his best


ASI-Yorito is not a reality because of me, however; it is a reality because of the people I met there three years ago. I also want to say thank you to former Peace Corps volunteer Janet Espinosa for leading a group of future community agents to the kickoff workshop in Cusuna in 2010. It was this step that really got the ball rolling for the foundation of Yorito's own workshop. Finally, I want to express gratitude to the “Catracha” who has had the faith and confidence to help make a dream a reality for so many people. Fanny Aviles describes her community's workshop as follows:

Communities in and around Yorito will send their most determined members to train for three years under the direction of SIFAT's Byron Morales. We will master sustainable approaches to social, health, and environmental issues, and we will replicate our training at home. With a clear perception of ourselves as health workers, we will together gain the capacity to become agents of change in our own communities.

55 future community agents prepared to be the change in their communities!


I can only describe the mood surrounding the workshop as elation. In a post on her Facebook page, Fanny made the following announcement:

Amigos!!!!!!!!!!! SOUTHERN INSTITUTE FOR APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY y ALABAMA HONDURAS MEDICAL EDUCATION NETWORK, We present to you the future Integrated Community Health Agents of our own town YORITO....

Janet Espinosa was invited to attend as a special guest, and I hope she continues to play an integral part in the facilitation of the program. Janet's position at the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura in Catacamas and SIFAT's own Kathy Bryson networking there will also solidify connections between local problem-solving and national initiatives. I am delighted by Janet's response regarding the inaugural workshop as “up, up, up with reading, brainstorming, decision making, group activities and lots of learning with an emphasis on vertical instruction meaning participation by all on an equal basis.”

Janet Espinosa leading an English lesson


I see great things happening. I see a web developing which will help AHMEN more easily maneuver between projects all over Honduras.  I see AHMEN becoming more focused and effective.  I see a network developing which truly stands to facilitate the empowerment process throughout local Honduran communities. Through our partnerships, we only enable that process to take effect sooner and more fully. With ASI-Belaire, that web will only grow stronger, and AHMEN's ability to truly transform Honduras through the radical love of Jesus will be more possible than ever before.

Won't you join us today? In my lifetime and yours we can put an end to inequality, sickness, and immobility.  Please contact me about donating to the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative and/or joining an AHMEN team today.

Together, we are the difference.