Warm, stale air sat undisturbed within the empty church. Dozens of blue plastic chairs filled the space from the rear forward as pew benches do in our own churches at home. A light dust, stirred up by adjacent traffic, carpeted the room. It was just another day inside Cruzadas de Evangelico's single citadel inside the La Ceiba city dump community of Los Laureles. It was just another day that church's walls had seen a million other times, but the women inside were anything but stagnant.
|From Left: Yulian, Yapa, Mara, Nelley, and Ana|
After 15 years of hearing stories about children scavenging food from trash trucks and never bringing our teams inside to see what God wanted us to do, a division within AHMEN spearheaded by Dr. Ezekiel Nichols founded a jewelry school in Los Laureles in 2012. God sent a volunteer jewelry teacher whom we began supplying with large amounts of donated supplies so that she could kickstart “Dr. Zeke's” dream. Success followed but only alongside its companion, dependency.
As a result, AHMEN's “Negocios con Amigos” (Business with Friends) team traveled to Honduras this March to begin transitioning the school from a model where all the school's supplies (beads, wire, etc.) are donated free of charge to one in which its students begin to learn how to use recycled and repurposed materials as a means of supplying 75% of the materials it needs to function. Our team knew not to expect instant results. We merely aimed to build relationships and introduce supplemental concepts other jewelry businesses sustainably employ around the developing world.
Transitioning relief into development is, of course, tricky to even the experts among us, and we anticipated challenges. So as my co-team leader, FDIC bank examiner David Hutzel, and I led the group from the tiny 12x9 room doubling as jewelry school and church feeding kitchen into the church itself, we knew we had to be on target. We began our team's 3-day seminar by breaking the group of nine mothers into three small groups to list positive and negative aspects of their school. I called time ten minutes later, and we began to review the results. Members of Negocios con Amigos served as group scribes and complained of having to “drag answers out of the jewelry students.” We expected curveballs. As we reviewed the results, however, I never expected to receive such a meatball amongst the labyrinth of spaghetti:
|Supporting ASI montlhly is Supportin "Las Mujeres Bisuteras de Dios" Forever|
Yes, the Los Laureles jewelry school known as “Las Mujeres Bisuteras de Dios” (Beading Women of God) are attending the quarterly community development workshops AHMEN and SIFAT have put into place in Jutiapa, Atlántida, Honduras. In response to being asked why she enjoyed her first ASI workshop, Yulian Barahona commented that she loves the access to education. She continued: “It makes me happy learning how to make a difference in my community on behalf of our country and to motivate others to do the same."
|Yulian looks on intently as David Hutzel and Shane Cooper talk about discuss the ins and outs of budgeting at ASI-Jutiapa. (Thanks to Evelyn Castellar for allowing us to host ASI-Jutiapa at her home!)|
Every time I have returned to Honduras over the last two years to work with Las Mujeres Bisuteras de Dios I have seen a positive change in the group. The process of transformation has already taken hold of these women. Now that they are attending ASI-Jutiapa that process will only flow that much more smoothly.
Consider joining an AHMEN-SIFAT team to go work with the Los Laureles jewelry school and/or the community agents of ASI-Jutiapa. The AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative in Honduras also desperately needs your donations to continue. Please contact me to learn how to take on a monthly sponsorship today.
Together, we are the difference.