During last week's faculty meeting at Franklin County High School, one of my fellow educators made a very exciting announcement about a leader in our midst. One of the members of the class of 2012, the young lady who reads the morning announcements and chooses to tutor her peers rather than leaving school early to earn extra spending money, has been nominated for the Naval ROTC Scholarship at VanderbiltUniversity. News like this is a sure sign that devotion to civic duty stands to not only help individuals increase their social and economic mobility, but it also gives entire communities reason to celebrate. Of course, my mind immediately went to the same attributes being rallied around by the health promoters of the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative.
Jerry Batiz and Palanco Garcia are two individuals I am proud to introduce to you. Each travel a long way to attend the quarterly AHMEN-SIFAT workshops in Cusuna with the explicit goal of learning what they can to shape a better future for their local communities. They have risen to the top of their class as health promoters in the second year of ASI-Cusuna, but what is really cool is the fact that each has begun taking on critical health issues unique to their home communities.
As you think about how your mission team, your goals as a missionary, your intentions as a sponsor, and your church's ministry can shape a brighter future for the people of Honduras, please keep these two members of the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative at the forefront of your hearts and prayers.
JERRY BATIZ – PUNTA PIEDRA
Here is a young man who is challenging the limitations of poverty. He is 25 years old, and after graduating from high school, he attended the training for health promoters provided by MAMUGA (Garifuna Municipality Network). When Jerry learned about the vision Byron Morales, SIFAT, and AHMEN share for the future of Honduras, he joined the three-year program in Cusuna. Even though he was already involved in the substantial biomedical program developed by MAMUGA, Jerry chose to join the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative for the way it stands to inform a more holistic direction for his activism.
|"Hola" de Jerry Batiz!|
Jerry has already been a part of a private national HIV-prevention program, and those skills will surely be useful in the application of workshops' HIV directive. He has proposed, as part of his training with us, to organize the adolescents of Punta Piedra around the importance of sexual health. Jerry is challenging to the Community Board President to support this initiative together with the local Baptist Church, the Community Board, and ECOSALUD, a local NGO working on HIV/AIDS prevention. We are extremely lucky to have such a wonderful student as a part of the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative; he is no doubt an asset to both ASI and his community!
POLANCO GARCIA – IRIONA
Polanco is a wonderful example of the developing cooperative relationship between ASI health promoters and mission teams. After receiving the training and technology to monitor blood pressure at the 5th Annual International Medical Seminar last August, he and his peers began working to raise awareness of the importance of healthy blood pressures in their communities. Polanco belongs to a local church in Iriona, and he had the opportunity to speak during a recent service to discuss means of maintaining healthy blood pressure. After the service, ten people requested additional information. He took their blood pressure and found that several were unaware of having risky blood pressure levels. Polanco spoke to them regarding ways to reduce those levels, and they all plan to return for regular checkups! It is specifically this type of relationship between community leader, patient, and mission team Polanco understands and the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative is working to build.
|Polanco Garcia (Left)|
Polanco and Jerry are just two examples of the faces of the AHMEN-SIFATInitiative. One response we consistently get from Byron when we ask him “how things are going” is that at every workshop he sees more smiles, feels a greater sense of community, and perceives a greater feeling of self-confidence from each of the health promoters. In the coming months, Byron will begin leading workshops to equip the people of Belaire and Yorito with the tools they need to unite their communities under an umbrella of sustainable vitality. As communities grow stronger in monitoring their own health, their educational and economic systems can better flourish. Through this process, the relationship between mission team and community will grow stronger too. As your mission team makes its plans for upcoming travels to Honduras, include meetings and meals with ASI health promoters in your schedules. Plan to follow up on medical training and public health discourses with leaders like Jerry and Polanco, and include donations to the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative in your team budgets.
|With your help, the smiles can only grow brighter!|
With the Peace Corps having left Honduras for fears of violence, we have to do everything in our power to take up the slack. With political corruption and narcotrafficking becoming the rule of law in Honduras, we have to do everything we can to help community leaders empower themselves. Just like the young lady with which I began this post, scholarships can be the launching pad for individual and community success. Make a difference in a Honduran families' lives by helping me find ways to fund the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative. If you already donate to AHMEN, I want you to consider why an additional donation is so important. Suyapa of the Shalom Girls Dorm is one of Byron's brightest students. Marianna of the Deaf School and Woodworking School dreams of using her ASI training to open a technical school in Plan de Flores. Christina of the Limon Nurture Center attends quarterly workshops in Cusuna because of her passion for the vulnerable children of Limon. Everything AHMEN does in Honduras stands to grow more relevant and effective through our strengthening relationship with Byron Morales and SIFAT; furthermore, I don't apologize for saying that a more relevant and effective AHMEN stands to transform Honduras. Please join me today in helping find individual and corporate sponsorships to fund the AHMEN-SIFATInitiative.
Together, we are the difference.