Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Know You...!!! - Part Four

With the Cusuna workshop its final year of the three-year program, the Yorito workshops kicking off this today, and ASI-Belaire on the horizon, I sometimes forget about a group of folks already traveling a long way to see what all the fuss is about!

At the AHMEN Community Empowerment Program workshops in Cusuna, most of the community agents training are from nearby.  There are, though, a group of seven individuals from La Moskitia who travel every three months to participate in the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative in Cusuna.

The dedication and perseverence they show by making such an inconvenient journey far from home signals a positive future for both their home communities and Honduras.  Knowing that all of the "best and brightest" can't make the regular journey to Cusuna, the group above takes the classroom with them back home.  Bridging geographical and educational gaps, the individuals above are exactly the type of folks who will help foster a healthier and more prosperous environment for more Hondurans.

Wilmington Tejada and Luz Maria Eden have been replicating lessons in water purification in their home communities in La Moskitia
Not only do the community agents above wish to open their own Community Empwerment workshop in La Moskitia, but AHMEN's La Moskitia volunteers, better known as the "Snake Eaters," have taken a special interest in joining that dream.  Dr. Tom Arnold recently recalled a conversation to me he had had with fellow teammates Bruce McFadden and Randy Lee.  "As an E.R. physician in the United States, I am basically always available to meet my patients' needs.  Since we can't do the same for my patients in Honduras, we have to find and additional solution.  It looks like what Byron is doing is that solution."

Won't you consider making the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative, AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program a sustainable means of collaborating on relief and development all year round?  Please contact me today to learn more about the program and how you can begin donating.  

Together, we are the difference.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Know You...!!! - Part Three

Just like the rainbow wouldn't be as perfect as it is without each of its colors, AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program, wouldn't be growing into what it is without each of its members. I want to continue this ongoing series introducing the faces of the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative by featuring two dynamic leaders focusing on projects so vital to the future of Honduras.

Julia Garcia, from Sambita, has been serving the communtiy by teaching fellow community agents how to monitor blood pressure using the instruments they received at AHMEN'srecent International Medical Seminar in Cusuna. As a part of her graduation project she will coordinate with the local health center in Sambita to search for patients needing advanced long-term care associated with hypertension and heart disease. Also thinking in terms of the legacy her community will leave for the next generation, Julia is promoting campaigns on waste management and recycling. 

A man by the name of Polanco from Iriona Puerto has been demonstrating his concern for ecology and environmental issues. He has partnered with a local Menonite project and has been named president of the Community Board. From this position, Polanco is preparing a framework for improved nutrition and sanitation in the area. 

I, for one, am impressed that Byron Morales is helping his students understand the very important links between food security, disease prevention, and environmental integrity.  The AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative, AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program, is changing lives.  Please contact me today about making a monthly or yearly contribution to the program!

Together, we are the difference. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Honduras Approves "Model Cities"

With the world's highest homicide rate, foreign debt once again piling up, and still unanswered questions about Honduran political solvency after the 2009 coup, the Honduran government has introduced an unusual solution into the mix which should be in the back of every missionary’s mind.

In a deal two years in the making, the Honduran National Assembly approved legislation this week allowing international citizens to invest in model cities around Honduras.  These model cities would more or less be free to form their own legal and tax systems.  What this means, I don't know.  I would guess, however, that Honduras is attempting to develop solutions to sweeping problems on the small scale before introducing them throughout the country. 

Attached to every swinging door in Honduras are Old Glory's hinges, and one United Statian pushing the idea of model cities in Honduras says "You can't change the rules in the middle of the game…Create a new playing field and see if anyone wants to play."  In other words, model cities allow Honduran society to be remade in a vacuum.  Analysts say creating model cities will create 5,000 jobs immediately and around 200,000 in the future.  The question remains: How will typical Honduran families benefit from turning over public duty to private enterprise?

Imagine Hondurans needing a passport to cross into a "Made in the USA" model town
On the plus side, these model communities would serve as a “testing ground” for the country at large.  Tax policies and legal codes could be tested in real life instead of just on a spreadsheet.  Infrastructure, I  assume, would aim for the future.  Roads, bridges, eco-friendly power and water grids, communication networks, I suppose, would all be built to put Honduras on track to more fully join the 21st Century. Businesses of both the micro and macro variety are certainly on the menu, and hopefully education and healthcare will become top priorities.  Although there is not a whole bundle of details available about these model towns, a very simple reason to me would be to start fresh free from many of the constraints of mainstream Honduran society. 
Will we see protests?
Negatively speaking, however, there are already complaints of just which parcels of “unused” land are being purchased to serve as the blank slates for the three currently-proposed model communities.  Garifuna and social justice advocates are well aware of the last time the government and private enterprise coalesced in Honduras … fiery protests over exactly what land campesinos/government realtors sold to palm/banana  plantation interests and for how much still regularly erupt every couple of months.  Any new land disputes could surely stir up a pot already bubbled to the top. 

What was colonialism 150 yrs ago is free enterprise now?

Whatever the implications, AHMEN and missionaries abroad should be asking themselves a couple of questions:

-How would our work change if towns like Limon, Belaire, or Yorito joined the model city movement?

-Will the Honduras government eventually enforce "imminent domain" in order to construct their own model cities?

-In what ways will the illegal drug trade disrupt the model for these cities?

-Will the legality of building model cities pave the way for "missionary cities?"

-Will model cities lead to American, Cuban, or Chinese "cities" within Honduras?

In many ways, if they become successful, model cities could be a game changer in Honduras.  Please continue to read, research, and discuss the model cities in Honduras with your mission teams and fellow missionaries.

Whatever the outcome of this experiment, we stand with the disenfranchised. 

Together, we are the difference.

Contact me for more information on the AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program!