Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Faces of ASI

Greetings Friends!

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.

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 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.

For more information on how to add the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative to your list of regular donations, please feel free to contact me today at ahmen.info@gmail.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Only Beginnings for the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative in 2012!

Happy New Year!! The long-awaited 2012 is finally here. A couple years back, millions of folks around the world began to draw a correlation between the Mayan calendar ending this December and the end of the world. Archaeologists claim, however, that the end of the Mayan calendar is just the end of the “long count” and that the end of one “long count” begins another one anew. Well, here at AHMEN, we have no time to waste thinking about end times....The AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative is set to transform Honduran communities well into next year and many years to come!

As Hugh Guffey has put it, “AHMEN has preformed exceptionally well over the years at half of what we are supposed to be doing.” By half, he means the “M” in AHMEN. Luckily, AHMEN is a blessed organization, and we are now fully incorporating a major “E” into our repertoire by joining forces with SIFAT. Yes, the Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network and Servants In Faith And Technology are working together diligently to lead a series of 3-year community development, health education, and leadership training workshops across Honduras.

Students at the first AHMEN-SIFAT workshop in Cusuna (down the road beyond Limon) have graduated to their second year. The following is an abbreviated report from the brain behind ASI, Byron Morales:

The second year of training began on December 5th, 2011 with much assistance from the local Church of God. The next three major workshops will take place in three-month intervals so that the second-year students' graduation will intersect with the 2012 AHMEN International Medical Seminar.

Pastor Nahun Flores, Byron's ASI-Cusuna Chief Assistant

Second-year students have begun taking on greater responsibilities in addition to networking within community focal groups.  In fact, Pastor Nahun Flores has been nominated to serve as Byron's chief assistant for the ASI-Cusuna....Benny Rowe would be ecstatic! The greater responsibilities and closer attention to local issues is already helping students envision what their specific goals in community leadership will be upon graduating from the program. The curriculum Byron  has developed, and his student-teachers Jerry Batiz and Suyapa Turcios are helping implement, falls in line with both the Honduran National Health Plan and MAMUGA (The Garifuna Municipalities Network). Byron, the Honduran Congress, and MAMUGA all anticipate great benefit from continued focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness and the reproducible, low-cost, high heat cook stoves in which SIFAT specializes. An additional responsibility students are responding to with excitement is the idea of beginning to work alongside mission teams as local community health consultants. Since receiving both instruments and training in monitoring blood pressure and eye care, some of the local health centers have requested ASI student support! Many thanks from the students go out to the August AHMEN medical brigade for the tools and training.

Tomas Castillo of ASI-Cusuna

As the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative health promoters have grown stronger in their ability to begin leading their communities into a brighter tomorrow, they have come up with a proposal. ASI students have proposed sponsoring an HIV/AIDS prevention campaign in Limon this March. What an amazing way to kick off a new year!

In other news, two new ASI workshops in Yorito and Belaire will open this year! Personally, I can't wait to hear the positive news to come :) As you pray about the success of AHMEN building up its “E” component to grow as strong as its “M,” consider how your own “ME” can get involved!

As always, please contact me with any ideas and suggestions on helping fund the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative.