Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mariposa's Miracle

Last year was my first time traveling with a clown in Honduras. When Dr. Tom Camp told me that Butterfly was coming to Honduras with us I have to admit to being a little shocked. I asked myself “What good is a clown going to provide when there are sick, hungry, and poor people all around us?” It wasn't long into last year's team that I got my answer. The smiles that follow Butterfly as we hold clinic or conduct educational talks may be the most valuable part of our team.
Until traveling with Butterfly, holding medical clinics had been one of the most stressful and rewarding parts of my year for 12 years!  Now it is just rewarding. Having Butterfly making balloon animals, painting faces, and doing tricks draws a positive energy around this team that would not be there otherwise. So thinking mostly of myself, I told Butterfly she had to come back this year. She didn't have the money or a good bill of health, but she made it. I have to tell you... selfishness and serendipity may twins in disguise. Butterfly didn't return this year because she made clinics run smoothly for the team leader. This was fate.

You see, about ten years ago a fellow named Ezekiel Nichols traveled to Honduras. And about a year ago, he began working on a project to solve a problem he had seen a decade earlier. In La Ceiba, AHMEN's jumping off point in Honduras, there is a city dump. And because 65% of Hondurans live below the poverty line, a great number of people have no other way to survive than to build a life inside this city dump.  
Remembering the feeling he had ten years ago, Zeke has come up with a plan to help this community work toward a better life through micro-loans. The only problem was that he needed our team to see if anyone from the dump would be interested in the idea of starting their own business.
So I arranged to meet with an American minister working there. He was going to arrange for us to do interviews, gather info, take pictures and video, but at the last minute, the minister had to go work with a group of 28 missionaries at a local soup kitchen. Determined, I packed my team in the van, and we went anyway.  With no plan, no way to communicate Zeke's plan to the 2,000 people living in the Dump, I hopped out of the van and began interviewing the nearest people I could find.
Butterfly and the rest of the crew followed behind me. So with half of my brain focused on interviewing the only group of guys hanging around the church where we parked and the other half of my brain watching the herd of children swarming around Butterfly, I was losing it! It was hot. I was sweating. I was trying to help someone else start a project when I've got too many projects of my own to worry about!
Then, all of a sudden, Dr. Delmer Montoya, our team's Honduran doctor, came to show me who he had met. Apparently, as the mountain of children flocked to Butterfly, their mothers followed. Delmer had met seven women ready to talk about Zeke's micro-business proposal. When they confirmed with Tom that they could find seven more women ready to begin talks, we organized a meeting for the following Thursday. With no way to spread the message God provided us with a clown at just the right moment. When the clown showed up, so did the children. When the children showed up, so did their mothers. And when mothers arrive, they bring the faith, hope, and love for a brighter future for their children. 

The following Thursday, 30 women showed up to our meeting ready to begin talking with Zeke to work their way out of poverty.  They have split into 6 groups, and each group leader will attend Byron Morales' SIFAT-AHMEN Initiative workshops in Belaire. Please contact us today to discuss joining the AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program fundraising team.

Butterfly always says “God gave me the clown.” I agree.

Together, we are the difference.


  1. would you have focused on talking to women had it not been for the clown effect?

    1. Good question, friend. When we arrived, the only people around were young males. It was not until Mariposa really got going that mothers began showing up. AHMEN does rely heavily on the women of Honduras as more responsible to their communities.

    2. Ohh interesting. Where were the adult males?

    3. I always wonder that too. It's possible they were out working somewhere. It's also possible they were in the same place with the women before the women arrived. The teenagers in the photo above were the only people hanging around when we got there.

  2. Michael, way to persevere with the Ceiba dump project! I saw first hand how effective Mariposa is with the children. God always has the best ideas! Informative post and good pictures! Blessings!

    1. Thanks, Jeanne! I feel blessed to have been a part of this project's beginnings..please be praying for AHMEN's August team meeting with the Dump Cooperative.

  3. Replies
    1. Ezekiel Nichols is the man with the plan...Search for "La Ceiba Dump Ministry" to join his facebook group!