Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


In my last post I wrote about "joining the empowerment process."  Empowerment is not a gift we can bestow on an eager people. It is not something we can carry in our suitcases from Birmingham to San Pedro Sula. It surely can't be bought off the shelves in the local pulperia; otherwise, why wouldn't everyone have it?!? Empowerment is a process.  It is the process of someone learning why they are important. It is the spectrum of circumstances leading a person to know for certain that they can set and achieve a goal. Empowerment is the relationships in a person's life that let her know it is not okay to settle for the status quo.

The AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative, AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program, invites local community leaders to join this process. Part of what makes ASI so effective is its special addition to the empowerment process: recognition. As AHMEN, as SIFAT, as CHHF, and as a family living under the positive light that is our shared faith in humanity, we recognize the honest steps being taken by ASI's health promoters. 

This begins "Part One" of an ongoing newsfeed covering individual health promoters from both Byron Morales' workshops in Cusuna and Yorito. I will feature a picture and a short biography of one or two health promoters every couple of days so that when you hear each promoter's name and accomplishments in conversation, you will know that person is a part of AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program. I am also featuring individuals so that when you arrive in Honduras you can give each health promoter a big hug, call them by name, and tell them how much you love what they are doing.  

Without further ado....I present to you:

Roberto2.JPGRoberto Mejia, Punta Piedra's AHMEN Project Coordinator

At the most recent Cusuna workshop, during reflection about the considerable taboo facing people living with AIDS, Roberto shared his own difficult experience regarding his diagnosis with tuberculosis. After he was informed, and the public health service provided counseling, he was fired from his job and put into isolation. During this time he lost a considerable amount of weight, and his fellow community members thought he had contracted HIV-AIDS. As you can imagine, the misinformation surrounding HIV-AIDS in Honduras began to further contribute to Roberto's quarantine. After more than 120 injections Roberto is improving and has risen through the ranks of AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program. His testimony during the most recent Cusuna workshop was a living illustration of the obstacles people living with HIV-AIDS face in Honduras. The realization that many people actually living with HIV-AIDS experience marginalization is a prime motivator for Roberto wanting to tackle STD education and prevention as his practical experience project during his third and final year in the program. 
As you think about how ASI, AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program, works in Honduras, think about the empowerment process. Think about the courage it took for Roberto to share his story, and think about how the empowerment process is working for him as he takes up someone else's struggle.   

RobertoMejia.JPGMeet Roberto Mejia, a partner in shaping a more positive and inclusive Honduras. 

For more information about joining a mission team to Honduras or contributing to AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program, please feel free to contact me.

Together, we are the difference. How can you help?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Feeding the Current: Joining the Empowerment Process in Honduras

What is the SIFAT-AHMEN Initiative?
The AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative is a partnership between two organizations dedicated to helping more Hondurans live better lives. AHMEN(Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network) has been working to treat the symptoms of disease, poverty, and neglect for over a decade and has now joined forces with SIFAT (Servants In Faith And Technology) in order to vaccinate future generations of Hondurans from ever having to live with crippling poverty, debilitating preventable illness, and the sense of isolation which can stem from both. In short, for AHMEN, ASI is the beginning stages of a strategic long-term Community Empowerment Program. For SIFAT, SAI is a springboard from which to begin enabling Honduran communities to join the empowerment process. Both organizations have chosen to join each other in this process because of shared commitments to disrupt the cycle of poverty in Honduras in this century through appropriate and effective development.

Credit for outstanding graphic goes to the Arbor Brothers

How does AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program work?
Well actually, the SIFAT-AHMEN Initiative is working very well and is expanding into new communities.

Byron Morales of SIFAT has been instructing a coalition of Garifuna, Mestizo, and Moskitia community leaders in the small North Coast town of Cusuna for the last three years. Byron has developed and implemented a practical three-year program to help community leaders learn cheap and replicable techniques in water purification, energy conservation, and disease prevention. Students also learn communication skills in order to take what they learn back to their communities. Along with communication and networking strategies, Byron leads students in ongoing discussions of threats to community sanitation and solvency ranging from HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, and spousal abuse. Each community leader rallies around a particular issue upon graduation. Through this process, Byron not only helps community leaders learn ways to beat back preventable disease and better communicate with their neighbors, but by doing so, these community leaders gain a sense of ability, a thirst for more knowledge, and the confidence to demand change.
Many Garifuna cast the net for food.  ASI teaches them to cast the net for positive change.

The workshops in Cusuna are in their second of the three-year program. Students are working closely with MAMUGA, the Garifuna civil health network, the Honduran government, and ECOSALUD, an NGO focused on the relationship between healthy environmental practices and a healthy community. MAMUGA and the Honduran government are of very strategic importance because after graduation, the Cusuna graduates will receive a health department certified diploma. ECOSALUD is of vital importance too as it combats overabundance in favor of balance from an earth-centered rather than a solely human viewpoint. Collaboration is a key part of the program's success.

ASI-Yorito is set to begin its preliminary workshop this June. Byron will take three of his top promoters from ASI-Cusuna to speak about the effectiveness of the program as all the “nuts and bolts” are gathered. Arrangements with local government officials and commitments from other NGOS are still being made, and we anticipate the official "kick-off" for ASI-Yorito sometime later this summer. Without commitments from all other surrounding organizations, the program's success cannot be guaranteed. That is why Byron's patience is so crucial to the success of the program. Working together, after all, is a central goal of the program!

Why should my team support it?
I traveled with a retired school principal/deliberate Christian to Honduras in November of 2006. His name was Benny Rowe. Benny was the first member of AHMEN to meet Byron and vice versa. The two hit it off very quickly, and the evolution of ASI is something Benny blessed until his dying day. At his final AHMEN-BOD meeting, Benny asked that we challenge every single team we know of to contribute $1,000 each year to the perpetual funding of the SIFAT-AHMEN Initiative in Honduras. This was not a “do it if you can” statement; this was a “make it happen” call to action.
 Benny Rowe

There are a million excuses not to actively and liberally donate to AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program, but there is simply no reason not to. I agree that $1,000 is a lot of money and could go toward many of your other favorite missions projects. That being said, however, a representative from each of your favorite AHMEN projects avidly attends each of the scheduled workshops and subsequent practice/replication sessions Byron leads. Every mission project you are a part of in Honduras stands to be more successful as more community leaders associated with that project graduate from AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program.

AHMEN, CHIMES, Cruzadas, CHHF, and other missions groups may be the vessels on which Honduran communities realize their own empowerment, but the community development and health promotion workshops led by Byron Morales are the current moving us all forward. Let's not fight the current but instead ride the waves to a brighter, healthier, and more independent Honduras.

Please contact me about making AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program a part of your regular donation cycle.

Look for next week's blog featuring a report directly from Byron Morales.....!

Together, we are the difference.
How can you help?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

AHMEN FUNdraiser!

When I was a little kid, I remember reading a story about this man who wore a bunch of hats.  He walked around town, and everywhere he stopped, he put on another hat.  I always thought this story a little confusing.  Why in the world would anyone want to wear more than one hat??  It doesn't work like that!  Twenty years later, and I finally understand....the story is about mission work.  Because when we all joined AHMEN fourteen years back, we were led to a bin with a hundred hats in it....and expected to wear all of them!

As many of us have come to find out, we signed on to do one thing, but we have ended up doing many others.  Bruce McFadden began volunteering on medical teams and has now designed AHMEN's online mobile database. Mary and Hugh Guffey signed up to volunteer as eye-care technicians and have now transformed what AHMEN is able to do in terms of eye-care. Dr. Tom Camp signed up to be a volunteer doctor and ended up helping found AHMEN!

The Gang is getting back together!
Even within a single mission team, team leaders ask members to wear many hats.  This weekend, for example, our "De La Montaña Al Mar" team will be having a FUNdraiser at the Lynn Car Show Saturday mornng, May 5, 2012 from 8-12.  Our chief FUNdraiser, Butterfly the Clown, has reserved a booth for our team to raise money, and she has asked us all to "put on an additional hat" by volunteering our support.  Brian Price is our team EMT, but he is going to put on another hat.  Lauren Watkins is our team journalist, and she is going to wear an extra hat.  Amanda Alldredge is a first-time AHMEN missionary but will be adding another hat to her wardrobe. Even Caden Camp, who is not even on the team, will be there donning an extra cap!

Butterfly will be painting faces and making balloon animals for anyone who needs a smile.  Caden Camp will be giving out free 5-10 minute massages for anyone needing stress relief.  Neither will accept money for themselves, only donations for the team....What a hat to wear!  We will also be raffling off a $25 Wal-Mart Gift Card, a $25 AutoZone Gift Card, TWO Car Wash kit, and a free 45-minute massage.  Tickets will only be $1 so make sure you come on out and buy at least $5 worth!

So what do you think?  Are you ready to add another hat to your repertoire?  Invite everyone you know to come on out to the Lynn Car Show, look at some classic cars, eat a corn dog, buy some raffle tickets, get your face painted, and help spread the good news of what AHMEN is all about!
May 5, 2012 from 8-12 AM Come for however long you can!
The address is:
Lynn School                
1129 W. Main
Lynn, Al 35575
Contact me at ahmen.info@gmail.com for more info!
Together, we are the difference. 
How can you help?