|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.
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.