Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014 and a New Year in Honduras!

For the first time ever, AHMEN has sent a full team of volunteers to help document the distribution of Christmas shoeboxes in Honduras during the Advent season.  Not only that, Jennifer Calhoun's team put together food bags to help families avoid some of the costs of making their own Christmas tamale dinners.

Did they do a good job??

Just look at the smile on Sister Eleanor's face!

Thank you to the Calhoun Christmas team for documenting all the smiles you and others helped share with Honduras this holiday season, and thank you for starting an entirely new project for AHMEN and the people of Honduras.  Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad!

Click here to donate to one of the many AHMEN teams or projects touching your heart this Christmas.  If you would like to learn more about how to join or plan a team to Honduras, please plan to attend our 2015 AHMEN Annual Meeting and contact Michael Franklin today!

Together, we are the difference!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

AHMEN 2015 Annual Meeting

Dear AHMEN and ANYONE interested in Honduras,

It's that time of year again! Christmas, yes. Hanukkah, yep. Kwanza, you got it.

The holiday season is upon us, but so is the AHMEN 2015 Annual Meeting!

Our Missions: Sharing and Growing Together

Where: Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Al

When: February 20-21

Who: YOU and everyone you know interested in joining an AHMEN team and/or project in Honduras

What: Weenie Roast and Roundtable discussions on Friday night followed by fellowship with new and veteran AHMEN friends and volunteers

Roundtable Discussion Topics
  • Best Practices in Water Purification (needs moderators)
  • Methods of Evangelism (needs moderators)
  • AHMEN/SIFAT led by Byron Morales and Tom Camp
  • Fundraising (needs moderators)
  • Training Your Replacements (needs moderators)
  • YOU are the Website led by Bruce McFadden and Lane Turbeville

Saturday reports from team and project leaders on best practices of 2014 and plans for 2015

How Much: $40 for room and board Fri – Saturday
$10 Friday but not staying the night
$20 Saturday w/ 2 meals
$10 Saturday w/ 1 meal

Why??????: Meet cool people. Learn how to lead or participate in an AHMEN team or project in Honduras. Discover what people all across Alabama are doing to partner with communities all across Honduras. Join us in stopping preventable disease, malnutrition, and poverty in Honduras.  Contemplate what God has in store for you!

Contact Michael Franklin and/or Tom Camp for reservations, to sign up for speaking slots, to lead round table discussions, to bring snacks, and to generally volunteer to make our weekend a success.

Together, we are the difference.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

ASI-Yorito - "The Program Is Working"

The following is an in-depth report of the most-recent ASI-Yorito workshop from Janet Espinosa. Janet is the Peace Corps veteran who actually brought an exploratory committee from Yorito to the first ASI workshop in Cusuna. After three years of training, here is what she discovered.

     What a joy it was for me to see the progress made by the ASI, the participation of the Promotores de Salud, and the empowerment that is a measure of success of the program in Yorito, Yoro, Honduras.  It was a weekend of learning and participation as well as one of recognition.

                From the leadership of Chief Promoter Fanny Aviles, Jovel, and the rest of the committee, it was evident that they can plan and deliver quality programs.  A local doctor led the sessions on HIV/AIDS or VIH/SIDA starting with group discussion of a family situation from the packet SIFAT provided.  She had extensive knowledge of the subject but also patience typical of the culture that allowed each group to report their feelings, insights and opinions even if ideas had already been presented – that is inclusion and empowerment that many of us from the land of efficiency forget about.  The doctor was able to let the health promoters know that the basic test for HIV is required of all couples wanting to marry in Honduras and also given to all women (and still too many teens) who are pregnant from the municipality of Yorito. She provided factual information and answered all questions.  All participants went home with the packet for review and further study, as well as to use with others in the community.

                Using thermometers donated by members of Gilroy Presbyterian Church in California, everyone participated in a hands-on session for reading thermometers and interpreting results.  I expected that there would be many not familiar with Fahrenheit since the rest of the world uses Centigrade, but I was surprised that so many participants had never taken a temperature or even read an outside thermometer.  In a very basic way, you can tell if someone has a fever by touching their skin.  I always touched the forehead, but in Honduras they touched the neck. The interest in more accuracy was evident.  Participants used quick result temple thermometers as well as thermometers for oral/rectal/armpit administration, all of which now have a noise alert when time is complete.  “Of course they do” you say, but here that was a surprise to most.  They read off outdoor thermometers that showed parallel Fahrenheit/Centigrade values as well as personal thermometers that gave digital results.  For those showing Fahrenheit, the health promoters also now can do conversion with a formula chart.

                On Saturday, the focus turned to health and nutrition with an emphasis on young children.  The presenter used power point presentations, printed material, and charts to explain concepts.  The printed brochures were colorful and easy to understand.  They could be duplicated for use in the various communities, but then we run into the problem of money.  The only negative part of the whole day was that merienda (snack) arrived quite late in the morning and people needed a break.  An emphasis was put on breast feeding infants exclusively for the first six months and then introducing pureed foods one at a time while continuing breast feeding until age two.  It is nice to see that women here feel free to breast feed their infants wherever, including in the middle of the meetings. We in the USA could learn from the Hondurans!  In a participatory session both men and women prepared pureed food and measured the correct amounts for various ages.  The measuring containers were distributed to the various community health care volunteers.  The presenter has promised to come back and work more in individual communities.

                During sign-in and breaks on both days, participants were able to examine and read medical books in Spanish that were brought from California and cover a variety of topics.  The group has decided to have a bookshelf made for 20 of the books that will be kept for community and student use in the library at ISP, the local junior/senior high.  An additional 12 books will be kept at the local maternity clinic where staff and clients can read about pregnancy, birth, and care of infants.

                A brief session was held to get participants thinking about the project that their region will do as part of the third year of the program.  It was agreed that all need to learn about water filters, and it was suggested that perhaps funding could be found for half the cost of the filter if the community collected the first half.  Tying ideas to the nutrition presentation individual and community gardens were suggested and several individuals were in favor of this.  Other suggestions included monthly workshops for teens on self-esteem, monitoring of blood pressure, and feeding programs similar to what is offered in Pacayal and Yorito.  I think there were more, but all that is important is that they are thinking about what they might be able to accomplish within their own communities.

                Probably the highlight of the weekend was the presentation of certificates.  Byron had emailed us the basic form which we adjusted for the printer here, and we also added the AHMEN logo to balance the form.  Recognition is very important and the committee presented each to much applause and photos of course.  The certificates have been collected for safe keeping until Byron and Tom Camp can sign them in January.  Because the first two years of the program took three years (2012-13-14) to complete, the group will probably lose most of the 10 high school participants who just graduated and will be off to university.  Travel, time, expense and studies will not allow them to participate in four weekends during 2015.

                The local committee in Yorito has done an outstanding job and have been empowered to organize and run their training sessions.  Isn’t that the goal?  There are many local resources that they can call upon.  The participants pay for each workshop and the local government sometimes helps with food for one day, but the group continues to need outside assistance with ink for the printer, copies to be made and other workshop needs.  The committee needs to have copies of the modules early (like now) so that they can select the best presenters for each weekend.  If Byron or representatives of AHMEN can be present, that is an added bonus but in most cases not absolutely necessary. The committee needs to set its own dates and the rest of us need to see if we can help when they need us.  For the coming year I would suggest a workshop on water filters and others on technology.  Internet is now more widely available in Yorito (but not the surrounding small towns) but less than 10 participants use email.  Computers are available in the library and sessions on how to search for information are important.
                The program is working and people are empowered. 

As Janet notes, your support is necessary for these types of community development programs to continue. ASI-Yorito, ASI-Jutiapa, ASI-Cusuna, and the ASI-La Moskitia (on the horizon) are getting the job done on a shoestring budget but can do so much more with your help! Visit www.honduranmissions.com today to learn how to donate to the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative, AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program. To learn how to volunteer with the health promoters, contact me today!

Together, we are the difference!

Monday, December 1, 2014

#GivingTuesday - Donate to AHMEN

I don't know why my students chose to get on their knees for this picture, but #GivingTuesday is definitely something for which we should get out our wallets!

#GivingTuesday is a national day of giving.  Our hyper-consumerist society ironically follows a national day of thanks, Thanksgiving Day, with a weekend shopping spree for the best deals kicked off with Black Friday.  While shopping for gifts for our friends and loved ones is a great idea at its core, don't we all have enough stuff?  Aren't there other people around the world who could use that $100 we saved by dropkicking our neighbors in the line at Sears??

After volunteering in Honduras over the course of 17 years, I KNOW the answer is YES!  What project means the most to you?

  • AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative
  • Shalom
  • Deaf School
  • Jewelry School
  • Water Filtration 
  • Your favorite team or team member
  • Shoebox Ministry

Please remember to make a special extra donation to one of AHMEN's projects, teams, or volunteers.  Check out our website at www.honduranmissions.com to learn more about all of the different ministries we partner with in Honduras.  Contact me to learn how to donate and/or join an outreach team to Honduras.

Together, we are the difference.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ASI Agenda: Fall 2014 - Spring 2015

When I wrote Byron Morales, the leader of AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program, to tell me about his schedule for the rest of the year, this is what he turned around and said....

Activity: Special Workshop
Responsible: Local Committee and Peace Corps Honduras Vet Janet Espinosa
Subject: TBA
Dates: December 5-6 / 2014

Activity: Last workshop to complete second year and certification
Responsible: Local Committee & Byron Morales
Subject: HIV-AIDs Prevention
Dates: December 13-14 /2014

Activity: Follow up visit
Responsible: Byron Morales
Subject: Projects follow up
Dates: January 28-31

Activity: Annual Meeting 
Subject: ASI update - BM
Dates: February 20-21

Activity: Workshop 1 - Advanced Level
Responsible: Byron Morales & Local Committee
Subject: Appropriate Technology I
Dates:March 6-8

Activity: Workshop 1 - Intermedium Level
Responsible: Byron Morales & Local Cordinator Carmen Ruiz 
Subject: HIV-AIDS Prevention
Dates: March 27-29

Byron, AHMEN, SIFAT, and a whole slew of governmental and non-governmental organizations in Honduras are working together to help local leaders facilitate the empowerment process in their own communities.  Contact me for more info on how to begin your monthly sponsorship and how to work directly with ASI community agents today!

Together, we are the difference.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Celebrating Marlen

“Your Black Momma love you…Ha hur huh ya”

That was the last thing Marlen said to me before we returned home via the San Pedro Sula airport.  She said it in her unique, agreeable voice.  She spoke to me the way she spoke to everyone, as if she were waiting for you to agree in honest, joyous laughter.

We all had the slightest inkling that the treatments Marlen received for so many months in the United States would not last.  However, at that moment, I looked over the reasons for Marlen’s bald head and simply, silently hoped for a world never without the love and smile she carried with her always.

Then again, it was not Marlen’s love; it was the love of Jesus Christ she so graciously shared with everyone.

It was also the love of Jesus (for many members of AHMEN, CHIMES, Cruzadas, and CHHF) and general positivity of the human spirit that Marlen received treatment in the U.S. for the cancer that eventually took her life here on earth.

Most Hondurans are not that lucky, and I think Marlen’s death can serve as a reminder of why we work in Honduras – to ensure that more Hondurans are capable of living more just lives in their homeland.

Let’s work together to make sure that more Hondurans are able to transform their country in the positive and loving image of one of its best.

Contact me today to learn how you can fulfill Marlen's dream of a brighter, more prosperous Honduras.

Together, we are the difference.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Donations Help Training Replicate in Honduras

Ebola.  Enterovirus. ISOL.  Global Climate Change.  Androcentrism.  Ongoing Neocolonial Geopolitics.  An exodus of Honduran youth to the U.S.

Byron Morales and ASI-Jutiapa Chief Promoters Carmen Giron
and Edy Valdavieso
These are just a few of the larger issues facing our world today.  They seem insurmountable.  How much money has been invested to overcome each one?  How much good can money do to solve world crises?

I’m here to tell you that it is not how much is invested but how it is invested.  $10,000 isn’t a whole heck of a lot of money when we are talking about hurdles like pandemics, climate collapse, and discrimination on a macro level, but $10,000 a year is exactly the amount needed to help Byron Morales of SIFAT fully catalyze true transformation across Honduras.

Byron Morales and ASI-Yorito agent Zulema

And there is proof in the pudding!

After five years of facilitating community development workshops in Cusuna (outskirts of Colón), Jutiapa (outskirts of Atlántida), and Yorito (in Yoro district), Dr. Byron Morales reports major breakthroughs.

·         Cusuna community agents are beginning to communicate via Facebook
·         Cusuna community agents have graduated from the “Agentes Comunitarios de Salud Integral” program and are developing their local projects
·         Cusuna community agent, Pastor Willington plans to start his own workshop program specifically for the La Moskitia area
·         ASI-Jutiapa will complete its final workshop this year and will be ready to begin “Year 2” in 2015
·         Byron Morales is rotating leadership roles at ASI-Jutiapa so that each member of the core local organizing committee has an opportunity to practice organizing successive workshops
·         Dr. Morales and the chief promoters of ASI-Yorito have requested that members of the jewelry school in Los Laureles (Las Mujeres Bisuteras de Dios) come share their lessons in business, handicrafts, and long-term planning
·         The local organizing committee for ASI-Yorito implemented its own workshop in September while Byron was teaching at SIFAT
·         Members of ASI-Yorito have already begun organizing HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness campaigns in the local high schools

The goal of AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative is for communities to learn to organize around local health issues, economic problems, government malfeasance, environmental degradation, and social ills so that they can develop a plan to overcome these circumstances with sustainable solutions.  Is the motivation, education, and transformation of 180 individuals across 30 communities worth $10,000 annually?  Yes!  Just $55/yr per community agent stands to help entire social circles in Honduras learn to be the solution to their own problems.

ASI-Yorito Coordinating Committee

How many community agents can you help sponsor yearly over the course of their training?  This is one situation where your $100 bill serves as a long-term investment you can trust.

Contact me for more info on how to join the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative today.  Also feel free to ask about how you can go teach at one of the ASI workshops across Honduras.

Change is slow and requires bottom-up solutions.  We value your donation as a way to transform countless lives now and in the future.  We can help Hondurans build the reality they want to see.  Begin your monthly or yearly sponsorships today.

Together, we are the difference.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Friendship from Afar: Meet Emilio

Emilio Receives His Sawyer Water Filter
During the summer of 2013 the “Río de Agua Viva” team traveled to the La Ceiba area to join the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative in Jutiapa and the “Las Mujeres Bisuteras de Dios” jewelry school for ten days.

While staying at Villa Helens, fellow team member David Hutzel and I met a young carpenter from Roatan who was building a house nearby named Emilio.  We talked with Emilio before and after work each day and even invited him over to watch the USA/Honduras soccer match one night.  We shared some unique cultural experiences together, and Emilio even mentioned something to us that I think speaks highly of AHMEN teams.  Emilio asked me “Do you know that I have been living at Helens all summer and have watched groups of volunteers come in and out of here?  You guys are the first to talk to me.”  Hearing these words make me prideful of our hospitality as an organization, but it makes me sad knowing Emilio has the perspective that only a minority of Norte Americanos are friendly enough to speak.  When we volunteer, our work sites need not be the only place where we become social in the land we visit.

Emilio Teaching "Worms & Germs" with Mari-Lou Wong Chong

Before leaving Helens to go back home David and I exchanged information with Emilio.  I knew communication was tricky and expensive but that the gesture of trading phone numbers was worth a shot to maintain a relationship.  To be honest, as a veteran volunteer, I did not anticipate being able to maintain lines of communication with Emilio.  David taught me different.

Emilio's Workshop

When it came time to plan the spring “Negocios con Amigos” team, David said our first mission as a team was to find and visit with Emilio.  The problem was that we didn’t know how to get from our hotel on Roatan to his Oak Ridge home.  Even worse, the phone number Emilio gave us the summer before was now out of order.  Finding our friend was going to be a longshot.  Wouldn’t you know it, though; our team photographer Jennifer Calhoun knew a lady on the island who knew Emilio!  We found him and got his new number.

Emilio's new home he builds in his spare time

Since returning from the spring “Negocios” team, David and I have been emailing, calling, and texting with Emilio on a regular basis.  He even joined this year’s “Río de Agua Viva” team as a translator and “teacher” at ASI-Jutiapa and ASI-Cusuna.  David has also been helping Emilio organize his resume so as to increase his chances of landing full-time work.

Are you planning on working in Honduras and need a reliable translator?  Are you traveling to Roatan and would like a safe friend to call on during your stay?  Emilio is smart, honest, and loves to work with teams.  He even mentioned how valuable an ASI workshop would be for his community!
Emilio's son during Honduran Independence Day

If you want to learn more about how to join a team to Honduras, please contact me today.  Find us on Facebook, and send us a tweet

The story of our meeting Emilio is the story of friendship and AHMEN in Honduras. 

Together, we are the difference.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Communication Received: From Banana Republic to Cali (via Alabama of course)

Dr. Ben Copelan returned from Honduras this June excited to help continue the progress of teams that had worked with the Los Laureles jewelry school.  He has contacted a shop owner in Sacramento about featuring some of their products.

Come to find out, the shopowner wants some samples!  We communicated the idea with the school via Facebook and email, sometimes with the assistance of third parties, that they could possibly expand their market.  Ben offered to trade each woman $25 for their five best pieces with the stipulation that their pieces contain as much personality and hand made product as possible (out of mostly natural or recycled materials).   

As you'll see in the next blog, the one with all the pictures, the group has come a long way in the last few years.  They have come so far because of their volunteer teacher Peggie Hurlston for one.  A second reason the school is succeeding, however, has to do with the half dozen jewelry/business teaching teams that have visited Los Laureles over the last year.  And, good news ...  "Las Mujeres Bisuteras de Dios" still requests teams to return, continue building relationships, and share many new sustainable skills with them next year. 

Join me during Holy Week and the first week of June in Honduras!

Invite your family and friends to join you in sharing an experience of a lifetime by helping Honduran families live more just and healthy lives.

Together, we are the difference.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mission Work Is Fun, But It's Not Easy Being Green

ASI-Jutiapa mini-group works with "Negocios con Amigos" Business Teaching Team

Welcome to Michaels Mission Musings: Environmental Edition.

Tooday I want to discuss two topics that I learned of during our “Río de Agua Viva” team this past June.  Both are quite possibly two new areas of outreach for AHMEN teams.  The first is a story about a guy, whom I will refer to as Carlos for his safety, who lives in a community just starting up outside of Jutiapa.  The second area I want to introduce to you is about a community we all know and love that needs a very specific bit of attention.  Even though I just started my new job at Franklin County High School my work with AHMEN continues!  So without any more introduction, let me urge you to incorporate the two following stories into your mission plans for next year.

Carlos and Child
The first thing I notice about Carlos is his gelled hair, tall stature, and big smile.  The second thing I notice is his willingness to engage anyone in conversation.  When we first met him on the March “Negocioscon Amigos” team, we thought Carlos may not have been cut out for the ASI workshops.  We thought he might have been attending the quarterly classes just to socialize.  After thinking about it, however, I realized that “coming to socialize” is but one of many reasons individuals without many social outlets attend ASI!  After visiting Carlos’ home town I realized why he thirsts for interaction.
Carlos lives in a town completely different from but near Jutiapa. The town is known as Salado Lis Lis. It is a community that was formed after the 2009 coup as a result of the land reform movement.  Farmers who had sold their land to large-scale banana and palm planters at bottom dollar decades earlier, not knowing that their land would be used to reap m(b)illions in profits, decided to retake their land. Violence ensued. Many farmers and protesters were murdered by the military and government police, but so as to limit continued killing, some planters negotiated tiny plots of land for the protesters to inhabit as a trade for an end to the violence. Carlos' community is one of those plots of land. It is completely isolated and barren save for palm trees and banana plants.  A local cooperative has come together to build chicken coops, plant mangroves to help purify the water coming in from the sea, and organizing with long-term well-being for the few dozen families living there as its goal. Carlos told me that the up-hill battle of starting from scratch was too much and that he planned to leave for the United States as soon as possible. However, joining the ASI workshop changed his mind. He said that he had no idea how organization, structure, and friendship could boost his mood and motivation. He was certainly a different person from when I met him the previous March.  Master Gardener and water purification expert Dr. George Wong Chong of the Río de Agua Viva team also picked up on a changed Carlos from the first day we met him. Now Carlos and Dr. Wong Chong plan to set up garden plots in Salado Lis Lis next year!
George taking soil samples for next year's community gardening team
The second story I have for you today is a bit less glorious … in fact it’s a bit gross.  In the towns of Cusuna, Punta Piedra, and Ciriboya that we know and love, there is a problem.  It is a problem with an “ick” factor for us gringos, but it is also a problem with far-reaching consequences for our friends in these villages.  I’m going to go ahead and tell you that the problem is … No, I can’t even type it.  Who would join an outreach team after reading what I must share with you? ?  Well maybe, just maybe, there is a group of volunteers out there perfect for this project.  What is the project you ask?  What is the problem?? 


There, I said it.  My favorite places in the whole entire world have a rat problem.  It is a problem for me because I was raised by a mother who despised rodents.  It is a problem for the local Garifuna population also because the rats are contributing to the deterioration of public healthNot only is the rat infestation causing general sickness, but they are also getting into the food families so desperately require to battle hunger and malnourishment.  One Garifuna woman actually told me that the rats have learned to take the lids off of pots and pans to eat food while it is being prepared.  This woman and her commadres are asking for help with the rodent issue, and they don’t want us to simply send a container full of traps.  They want a comprehensive, multi-lateral plan to push the rats and mice back into the jungle.  They know that rodents are food for snakes, and when snakes don’t have food they might go after humans.  They know keeping the balance of nature is important; they also know that something must be done to rid the community of the disease and damage rodents are wreaking around these towns.
The said WHAT about the pots??
So, I want to ask for your help.  Are you interested in joining an AHMEN community gardening/composting team to Honduras next year?  Are you interested in putting together a rodent awareness and prevention program to deliver in Honduras next year?  Who do you know who might also be valuable on these teams?  If you don’t want to volunteer, and don’t know anyone who might, would you consider joining a sponsorship for the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative so that we can train local leaders to address the problems themselves?  Contact me for more info on joining a team, planning a team, and/or donating to ASI today!

Together, we are the difference.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Walker County Part of Solution in Honduras

ASI instructor Byron Morales explaining to graduating Community Agents at ASI-Cusuna that the real work has just begun.  They will now return home to replicate what they have learned in their communities.

I want to extend my sincerest thanks to Jennifer Cohron and the entire Daily Mountain Eagle staff for their continuing coverage of AHMEN over the years.  We are truly a special group offering life-changing opportunities to both our volunteers here in the United States and partners in Honduras.  

ASI-Jutiapa CAs discussing identity and individuality

Jennifer, thank you for an extremely well-written article.  You very poignantly expressed the ideology behind AHMEN's Community Empowerment Program, the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative.  Without friends like you the transformation we work to achieve in Honduras would not be possible.

Las Mujeres Bisuteras de Dios have joined ASI!
AHMEN is an organization based in Walker County, Alabama.  The basis of our donations and volunteership come out of Walker County.  There are many other groups from our area who volunteer in or donate to Honduras.  We invite them to support ASI also.  With their help, we can very assuredly say that when every citizen in Honduras has regular access to clean water, healthcare, sustenance, and is free from violence and disease, it will be in part because of a relationship with a little corner of the Southeast hidden away between rolling, grassy, carbon-filled hills and a meandering Black Warrior river.

Donate what you can.  Help me to raise the $16,000 we need to keep the current project going and expand into two new areas starving for opportunity and education. 

From Left to Right: Michael Franklin - AHMEN Director of Community Relations, Lane Turbeville - RN at UAB's MICU, Dr. Tom Camp - AHMEN General Coordinator

Join one of our many teams and be a part of a solution to the many issues confronting the world today with AHMEN.  Begin your monthly donation to the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative today, and please feel free to contact me for more information.

Together, we are the difference.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Solving Immigration Through Empowerment

All ages, sexes, genders, and backgrounds gather quarterly to problem solve.

AHMEN's Río de Agua Viva team is a teaching team. Every successful teaching session, however, is not a one-sided lecture, but an open discussion. Successful teachers listen.

While listening to members of ASI-Jutiapa talk about what is going on in their lives this past June, I heard something that broke my heart. Two bright, young, and enthusiastic members of the program expressed their hopelessness over their future in Honduras. Each expressed befuddlement at the likelihood of ever earning enough money to lift their families out of poverty. One said he was fifteen minutes away from joining the gangs, and the other said he plans to leave for the United States next year. The waves crashing against the beaches of Limon from my first team to Honduras over sixteen years earlier were the only sounds I could hear as I vainly searched for the right words to tell these two young men to “stick it out.”

An investment in ASI is an investment in these kids' futures as prosperous Honduran citizens.

But then, they don't need the right words; they still have hope. Instead of already joining the gangs or departing for the U.S., these two joined Byron Morales' CommunityEmpowerment Program, the AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative, in Jutiapa. They just need encouragement to continue, and this is exactly what ASI does. ASI is a community level partnership with Honduran leaders that reinforces the mantra that “YOU can be the change your community deserves.”

Respect of difference and attentive to others' opinions form the basis of ASI's initial paths toward empowerment.
There are macro issues at work. The United States must resolve its immigration dilemmas so that Honduran immigration to the United States is less of a solution. We then must invest in the Honduran infrastructure so that the daily struggles to ward of disease and malnutrition are not greater battles than dismantling the government corruption and gang life leading so many to emigrate from their country in the first place.

In the meantime, ASI is a solution, and it develops the capacity in its community agents to know that they are the solution too. While bureaucracies, congresses, and presidents delay decision, AHMEN is taking charge. While the International Monetary Fund enables the rich to get richer off of the poor, ASI empowers families to be their country's most-prized resources. You can too! To learn more about what Byron Morales does in Honduras, or to make a donation, don't hesitate to contact me.

The way forward is not continuing to permit an exodus of Honduran youth but to empower neighborhoods to transform their country. Join us today.

Together, we are the difference