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.
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?