Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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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.