Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Remember Your ABCs: A(HMEN) B(elieves) in C(ollaboration)

Thirteen years ago when, what would become, the first AHMEN mission team spent a week in Limon, Colon, Honduras, we didn’t hardly know what to make of our experience. Every single one of us felt an overwhelming need to return, and all of us did. After the first day of volunteering in Honduras every member of that team, and I think most teams since, fell into a state of giving that is beyond our own control. In the field, some of us are at peace knowing we are choosing better options for the course of our lives, and others of us get so stark, raving bound and determined to change the structural injustices we see around us that it consumes us.  Hopefully, most of us stand somewhere in the middle.
"Piedra Blanca"
Somewhere in the middle….that is what AHMEN’s Community Empowerment Program, the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative is to the people of Honduras. In mission work, teams usually focus on meeting immediate needs or looking to long-term solutions to maximize lasting impact.  The joint effort in sustainable development and empowerment between AHMEN, SIFAT, and Byron Morales is really the best of both worlds.
ASI - Yorito

You see, not only does AHMEN’s Community Empowerment Program establish a 3-year timetable for local community leaders to attend a series of health promotion and community organization workshops in order to equip communities with the tools they need to identify and resolve local crises on their own, ASI is also meeting the immediate needs of local governments to implement such programs. In ASI-Cusuna, Byron Morales is working closely with MAMUGA, the association of Garifuna municipal representatives, so that ongoing, historical issues are addressed in workshops, and so that program graduates earn legal status as health promoters upon graduation.  Similar things are happening with ASI-Yorito. Upon meeting with Fanny and the other NGO representatives in Yorito this month, Byron was approached by the Secretary of Health with a request for 150 government-trained health promoters to join ASI-Yorito! As ASI-Belaire comes closer to launch, we are sure to get similar news of government and non-governmental collaboration. By building stronger foundations with support from extensive social, political, and economic networks, AHMEN’s Community EmpowermentProgram is daily becoming a more legitimate force for meaningful change throughout Honduras.
Byron and Fanny
AHMEN, Birthing Project USA, CHHF, CHIMES, Cruzada del Evangelica, HondurasWeekly, Limon Aid, Project Honduras, Rotary International, SIFAT, UMVIM, and many other organizations are literally working together to help more Hondurans live better lives.  AHMEN’s Community Empowerment Program, in the words of one AHMEN volunteer,  “is the most significant project to come out of AHMEN in a long time.” As we all work together to encourage the success of ASI, let's remember Newton's 1st law. The AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative is a project set in motion, and in order to keep it in motion, we need your help. I want you to consider doing two things:
  1. Join me in leading a team to build stronger ties with ASI-Cusuna health promoters during 2nd year graduation this fall.
  2. Begin including the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative, AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program, in your regular charitable donation schedule today.
Please join me today in helping ensure the success of our work in Honduras. Contact me today to learn more about what you can do to help.
Together, we are the difference.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Endless Potential: AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program

In a recent email conversation I asked several people what they thought about the community empowerment program we have been calling the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiatve.  I wanted to gauge people’s interpretations of the powerful investment we are making.
I received many responses. Everyone expressed excitement regarding AHMEN's overdue expansion into long-term development. One statement, however, stuck out more than the others, and I think it may have something to do with the perspective of the respondent.  Janet Espinosa is a former Peace Corps worker and instructor at the Universidad Nacional de Agricultura in Catacamas, Olancho, Honduras.  I met her during a stay in Yorito in June 2010, and that fall she brought a group of community leaders from the mountains of Yorito all the way to the beaches of Cusuna for Byron Morales' first ASI workshop.   Janet comes from California, but her heart beats for Honduras. When asked about her perception of AHMEN’s community empowerment program, Janet responded:
"I see SIFAT-AHMEN as a catalyst for empowerment.  There are many people in Honduras, and especially in Yorito, that have ideas but need the training to implement them.  With training, support and financial assistance they will be able to help their communities.  I see SIFAT- AHMEN as helping Hondurans use their already strong faith by providing the basis for action and a view towards the future."
All I could say after I read this was “WOW!”  The long-term community development program AHMEN is helping SIFAT’s Byron Morales implement in Honduras is a catalyst for empowerment, and in my mind, there is no better manifestation of the potential of our collaborative adventure than the picture below.
From Left: Rebecca Graber, President of Honduras Porfirio Lobo, Anne Tolene, Rachel Hanle, and Byron Morales

The pure symbolism of this picture is what AHMEN is all about. The Honduran government, the UAB International Studies Program, and faith-based NGOs are converging to transform Honduras. We at AHMEN are a network bringing the most concerned world citizens together for the sole purpose of transforming Honduras into a place where poverty, malnutrition, violence, and climate collapse are no longer realities but finalized chapters of a nation's history books.
During his speech at the Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit in Catacamas, Honduras, Byron Morales presented a geometric viewpoint of empowerment in Honduras. After discussing the nature of how AHMEN's community action program helps communities grapple the hurdles to their self-agency, he closed with the following statement:
"Ending hunger and malnutrition is both the first and last step to empowerment in Honduras. For when every Honduran understands they, their sisters and brothers deserve the capacity to be fully nourished in body, mind, and spirit, societal problems such as hunger will begin to solve themselves."
The relationship between AHMEN and Honduras has been positively blessed since the beginning. Every single day the people we work with in Honduras are getting closer to the future to which we all aspire. The BIG moments, like the one's in the picture above, don't happen all the time. The little ones, on the other hand, do.

Please think about joining a team to Honduras today. Consider letting an AHMEN representative come speak to your church, small group, club, class, etc. Begin praying daily for the success of AHMEN's community action program, and choose to include it as part of your regular charitable donation cycle today.

Together we are the difference. How can you help?