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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Christmas Presents From Pastor Wilinton

Greetings and Happy Holidays!

The hustle and bustle of shopping, family visits, and forced feeding of Christmas cookies are a good reminder that it is time to reflect on the slow and steady work of planning AHMEN’s 2017 community development goals for 2017.  To do this, Byron Morales, Dr. Tom Camp, and I take into account what the local community agents in each of the “Agentes Comunitarios de Salud Integral” workshops throughout Honduras have shared with us.  We use this information to envision what is practical and possible for the upcoming new year while also looking well beyond into the future.  You see, gone are the days when we sit around and decide what the people in Honduras need.  Our entire launching pad into missions is now fueled by the needs and dreams of the local committees in Cusuna, Jutiapa, Raistá, and Yorito.  

From Left to Right: Ambel, Wilinton, and Tomasa of Kury, La Moskitia, Gracias a Dios, Honduras

See below for their reports!

Here Pastor Wilinton and his daughter Ambel tell of two incidences where community agents employed the training they received from the Río de Agua Viva team.  (1) A pregnant woman with no access to medical care was aided in her delivery with the birthing techniques Dr. Ben Coplan shared last June.  (2) A young man's canoe flipped over on him, and he began to drown.  The CAs used their CPR training from Leana Moncada to save his life.

Here, Tomasa tells of a woman who had been waiting for an extended period of time on a nurse to come diagnose and treat her body pain.  When the pain became unbearable, a brigade of community agents arrived and employed the massage therapy techniques that Caden Camp taught in June.  The woman began to feel better even after just a single treatment.  Her hope is that more agents will be trained so that all of La Moskitia will reap the benefits of the education AHMEN provides.

If you would like to work with the ACSI community agents in 2017, please contact me today!  You have a gift to share with Wilinton and his fellow agents across Honduras.  We need you on the Río de Agua Viva team as a teacher, long-term planner, researcher, photographer, storyteller, and good will ambassador.  We also welcome more input from more voices as we continue to plan the most effective and appropriate approaches to long-term, sustainable education outreach in Honduras.

Together, we are the difference.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

All Aboard!!! - Rio de Agua Viva 2017

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
-Nelson Mandela

Going on five years now AHMEN's Rio de Agua Viva team forms and travels to Honduras to do precisely that.  We aim to change the world the most-isolated Hondurans live in each day.  We aim to change the reality of malnutrition to one of nourishment, sickness from uncleaned water to wellness and independence with filtered water, and broken to healed all through public health education.

2013 - Cusuna, Jutiapa, La Ceiba, and Yorito
2014 - La Ceiba, Jutiapa, and Cusuna
2015 - Cusuna, Jutiapa, La Ceiba, and Raista
2016 - Cusuna and Raista

This year, we have to step it up a notch.  There is no time to lose.  Remove the fluff!  Our patience and preparation as volunteers outside our own national boundaries must continue and grow.  Let's get down to the nitty gritty!

This year I am proposing an expansion of the Rio team to include each of the different ACSI workshops.

I would like this "team" to be a combination of teams: A Team - Raista, B Team: ASI-Jutiapa, C Team - ASI-Cusuna, D Team: ASI-Yorito, E-Team: Las Marias

The goal is to use this team as an apparatus to evaluate, followup, and document project development in each of the workshop locations.  The goal is also to have each "break off" team function under a trained team leader in such a way as to encourage a full, larger team return regularly to make each workshop their area of focus.

The function of the Rio team has always been to support each of the ACSI workshops, but in 2017 we aspire to have 3-5 person mini-teams to work at each location during the same June 21-July 1.

What kinds of skills are we looking for??

Spanish fluency, medical background, teaching background, photography & videography, long-term planning, communication, water management, composting & family gardening, life guard, bookkeeping, feminism, microbusiness, abuse and addiction prevention, engineers, community development, sustainability, appropriate technology, writers, social media people, students of all varieties, and nice people in general.

The cost of the team is only $1700, and I would like to invite you to a Dec 1 Google Hangout meeting at 5:30 PM CST to tell you how you can raise your money.  We will also discuss more of the details and answer questions regarding the team.

Just send me an email, call, or Facebook to RSVP.

If you want to be part of real, transformative change in the world, if you want to see a part of the world that few others will ever experience, if you want to meet some of the nicest people you will ever come in contact with, it is time to get on board.

Together, we are the difference.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Community Development, Involvement, or Education - Whatever you call it, it's working!

Jutiapa - This workshop has been fully funded on the local level by the mayor of Jutiapa.  This includes food, guest lecturers, facility use and cleanup, and lodging if necessary.  Jutiapa is set to graduate 45 students in December.  Earlier this year, UNFPA - a United Nations organization dedicated to helping communities prevent and manage the effects of sexual abuse - lead a very successful training with the women of the workshop.  More recently, students who are both from the National Agriculture University (UNA) and graduates of the SIFAT practicum in Lineville, Al have visited and taught lessons in sustainable agriculture to the Jutiapa agents.  The trip was such a resounding success that the UNA students have offered to go back to UNA and coordinate scholarships for room, board, and tuition for any of the Jutiapa agents and their children who apply for a sustainability internship program.  The community agents here ask that any AHMEN team working in the area stop by for a day or three to meet, teach, and plan with them.

Yorito - Any discussion of Yorito begins with kudos being extended to the honorable Fanny Aviles.  This workshop graduated last year.  The leadership which developed out of this workshop has allowed the workshop coordinating committee to begin working with an Episcopalian NGO providing supplemental nutrition programs in the local feeding kitchens.  Further coordination between Byron Morales and the agents have resulted in the local elementary teachers being awarded a grant to receive training on how to use free educational materials in math, science, and reading.  The Yorito agents were also awarded a grant by the Peace Corps for funding and materials to build latrines in the surrounding communities.  The "Feed My Sheep" team's relationship with the local community, its ability to target its missions, and its communication with leaders on the ground have greatly improved over the last several years.  They are now one of AHMEN's most diverse, appropriate, and effective teams.  The same UNA agents from Jutiapa will work with the Yorito grads and offer the same internship scholarship to any agent or their family members who apply.

Cusuna - This workshop graduated 60 agents 2 years ago but has since lost its leader (Nahun) due to his pastorship being reassigned to Trujillo.  The agents still meet, still have concerns, still want to learn more, and still have dreams to start projects to gain control over the health and economy of their communities.  This workshop is further isolated than the other two, and so outcomes are different.  The contrast of Cusuna vs Yorito/Jutiapa is stark.  Communication is much more difficult, and without a leader, there is not a constant source of outward motivation and support.  This group of community agents requests that each AHMEN team that comes through the area stop to work with them in some form or fashion.  Byron Morales will be organizing the same UNA group to visit Cusuna later this year or early next year.  The Rio team learned about two extremely positive outcomes from the Cusuna agents this summer. The agents are a contact source for sick patients in the area.  When there is no doctor or medicine in the Ciriboya hospital, the agents are called upon to check vital signs and make referrals to the Centro de Salud in Cusuna.  They essentially are managing the health for the area in the same way an EMT service might.  This intervention takes a great deal of confidence.  We knew they were acting as first responders, but we did not know they were coordinating solutions for patients in the absence of medical staff at the hospital.  Also, out of Cusuna has come the Raista workshop.

Raista - As a graduate from Cusuna, Pastor Wilinton Tejada requested help bringing the same education to La Moskitia. The Rio de Agua Viva team has coordinated with the 100 locals and taught two 3-day seminars in first aid, massage therapy, child development, vision testing, clean water for kids and adults, water quality testing, and improved gardening techniques.  This relationship has resulted in AHMEN's Jungle Team also conducting water quality testing.  Furthermore, the strength and dedication of the participants is leading to Raista becoming a new water filter distribution center for La Moskitia for the Water With Blessings organization.  Pastor Wilinton, in conjunction with representatives from the local environmental agency MAPAWI, is planning the first educational seminar without the Rio team Oct 27-29 on the subjects of waterborne illness and remedies.

Byron Morales has identified a new set of interested potential community agents in the area of Intibuca.  This is where Brent and Doris Brady have moved to from Utila.  AHMEN has an old medical/educational/evangelism team called "De La Montana al Mar" in need of a leader and team members in the area of La Esperanza (in Intibuca).  This team would be attached to the potential Intibuca workshop in the same way the Rio team is attached to the Raista workshop.

A donation of $10/month will go a LONG way to ensuring positive and meaningful results out of AHMEN's Community Involvement Workshops.  Please consider donating today.  Or maybe you want to form a team to go work with the community agents in one or more of the locations.  Contact me to help support life-saving education today either through your donations or volunteership!

Together, we are the difference.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Take Me to the River! Pt, 1: Leana's Story

Good Morning Friends,

I want you to take a moment and think back to someone who taught you something.  After you finish reading this blog, leave a short memory you have of that teacher.  They don't have to have been a teacher in any legal sense, just someone who made an educational impact on your life.

Every person matters, and every person who dedicates their lives to education matters.  It is a noble act to deliberately choose to teach someone else how to lift up themselves and others.

This is exactly the goal of the "teaching team" that developed as a result of the partnership between AHMEN's Community Involvement programs.  As you know, this team is called "Rio de Agua Viva."  The Rio Team, as I have come to nickname it, enjoyed one of the most meaningful journeys to Honduras I have ever lead or of which I have ever had the pleasure of being a part.

I will be featuring one story each month through the end of the year about our AHMEN River of Living Water team.  This month I want to push off the canoe with a story from our team's first aid teacher, Leana Moncada.

Leana Moncada is an E.R. nurse in Birmingham, Alabama at Princeton Hospital.  She is one of the nicest, most-patient people you have ever met.  Another fun fact?  Leana is originally from Honduras.  She travels with AHMEN teams as a way to give back to her people.  Click here to read Leana's journal!

Does Leana's story make you want to join a team to Honduras?  Contact me here today to learn how to be a part of AHMEN's Rio or many other teams next year!

Together, we are the difference.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summer 2016 Update

Hello friends and Hola amigos,

I have returned from Honduras a happy man.  Other than the strongest feeling yet for my need to return to Honduras for a month or two on an organizing mission for AHMEN, I sit here in Winchester, Tn pleased with my recent Río de Agua Viva team's recent return.

I have many tales to share with you about our team's journey, but before I collect all of my thoughts, I want to share 3 links and 1 contest with you.  (In the meantime, check out my article on the River of Living Water UMC page!

It is time to kick the Christmas Shoebox Ministry into high gear for 2016.  This Sunday, I'm asking you to stand up and invite your church and Sunday School class to participate in the AHMEN Christmas Shoebox Ministry.  I have set a team goal of 1K boxes this year! Contact for more info.

Have you been missing updates from Byron Morales on the Community Involvement page of the AHMEN website??  Miss no more!  Each month Byron and others will post updates on their activities in building a stronger, healthier, and more peaceful Honduras.

Ken Hanson, a Jungle and Río Team veteran, has his own blog he would like to share with you.  Get to reading about how God is using him in Honduras!

What will be the theme of AHMEN's Annual Meeting this year?  Submit your idea as a comment on this blog today!  Winners receive a FREE Honduras Survival Kit at the Annual Meeting!!  (Fall Meeting Date will be set this month.)

AHMEN is not just a tool for sending a yearly mission team.  AHMEN is a network for non-profits of all walks of life to organize and collaborate on behalf of Honduras.  Check out the links featured in this post and others to get involved in the Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network today!

Together, we are the difference.

Friday, June 10, 2016

AHMEN's "Rio de Agua Viva" Team Continues Work With Cusuna Agents

ASI-Cusuna Followup Interviews Group Pic.jpg 

AHMEN’s Community Involvement Program boasts 50 trained graduates in Cusuna, Colón, Honduras.  After three years of conceptualizing community need and learning solutions to meeting those needs, the health promoters are charged with designing and implementing a training project in their own home communities.  Next week, AHMEN's "Rio de Agua Viva" team will meet in networking sessions with each of the following groups to help them extend their reach beyond AHMEN and the local community.

Water Project: This team has been trained on how to use and maintain Sawyer water filters and even helps do so with AHMEN’s Mt. Vernon team.  They also monitor filter usage in the community and serve as a resource for anyone with questions about water filtration.  They are looking for ways to organize, fundraise, and collaborate to expand

Irma Dolmo

Hermenegildo Castillo

First Responders: This group began training on battery-powered sphygmomanometers after an AHMEN team donated several to the training program.  Since receiving their training, the community agents now serve as first responders in their villages.  They have built trust with their community members and have developed a reputation as the people to visit when the medical doctors and nurses are unavailable.  This group seeks more training in how to conduct more specialized health screenings and how to safely treat basic medical issues with stocked first aid kits.  They would like to work with medical teams also.


Promotion of First Aid and Mosquito-Borne Illness Prevention at Mayor’s Office

Pastor Juan Polanco (Left) of Iriona Puerto is working through the local civic leaders in the mayor’s office to promote wellness in Iriona Puerto.  Polanco would like to lead more in-depth classes to organize more promoters and would like for you to visit him to discuss how to grow his mission.

HIV: Honduras is home to around 17% of Central America’s population but reports 60% of the HIV/AIDS cases for the region.  The rural areas where AHMEN teams work, and especially Garifuna communities, are at a much higher risk of increased contact with HIV/AIDS as a result of limited access to education and health care.  This group is mobilized but lacks resources and ability to network.  They are thinking big about raising awareness and prevention throughout their communities.


Land Movement: While AHMEN does not involve itself in political matters, the issue of “land rights” in Honduras is one which many of the Honduran poor are faced with on a daily basis.  This group provides answers and rallies support around the issue of land usage in the area.  The would like to learn how to better organize and raise more awareness of their core emphasis. (Not pictured or named for safety reasosn)

Feeding Center Ciriboya

Ramon Montero  and Irma Dolomo of Ciriboya work in the area of child nutrition in Ciriboya.  Their feeding kitchen provides meals to the orphaned children and the elderly in the area.  The would like to do more in terms of nutrition and sustainability.

Micro-Loans: This union of individuals is pulling their earnings together to help provide much-needed capital to community members who are in need of a small loan.  They are looking for more guidance in this regard and also would like help networking to include other individuals and organizations in their project.
Irene Bernardez, Carlota Mejia, Jacinta Mejia, Merry Bernardez, Paty Rodriguez, and Timotea Castillo of Cusuna

Replication of ASI in La Moskitia: Pastor Willinton Tejada, Onilia Nixon, and Sesma Gonzales have started an entirely new workshop replicating their entire training in their home town of Raistá.  Read here for more information!


The community agents have conceptualized improved living standards for the families and neighbors and are now putting their ideas into action.  If you would like to work with or help sponsor the ASI-Cusuna graduates, please contact me today!

Together, we are the difference. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day According to a Christian Ecofeminist Honduran Missionary

We have but one home planet to inhabit.  We have but a single space in the universe to explore all that is positive about life as we know it.  God asked the first humans in Genesis 1:28 to  “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!" in regards to the earth, and in heeding this first commandment, the earth's health is central concern.  The earth is our pallet for positive human free will; our canvas of conservation.  Yes, the first page of the Bible asks human beings to be green.  In God's first communication with humans, he/she/it begs we homo sapiens maintain the earth's homeostasis.

God demands this of us all and none more than others.  Prosperous, unpolluted land is a gift from God to us all.  Money is not mentioned on that first page of the Bible.  Despite what some disillusioned might say, corporations are not people and have no right to dictate how the earth and its inhabitants should be treated.  The responsibility of being good shepherds of the planet is the duty of poor and rich, L&G&B&T&Q, Western and Eastern, Southern & Northern, Dark & Light, Men & Women, etc.  In fact, our shared responsibility to the maintenance of our planet to give forth and support all life is also what binds us.  God's love built a home for life to flourish, and it was God's love that entrusted humans with the task of protecting it!

With this in mind, why don't Christian missionaries incorporate environmental activism into their outreach?  Why wouldn't we include deliberate social/political/economic activism into our daily schedules while in the mission field?  Because Christians are called to save souls, we have to have a planet on which to do so!

In Honduras, environmental activists are under fire.  As Christians, do we ignore the assassination of those advocating on behalf of God's original commandment, or do we take up their mantle? Is the health of our planet a Christian cross to bare? Jesus asked us in Matthew 25:40 to love God by working for justice on behalf of what society judges to be "the least."  But who are "the least?"

"The least" is not a who but a what.  Jesus is asking us to fight the either/or mentality causing humans to pit the priorities of the greedy over those of the needy.  It is the mentality that says it is okay to tear down families' homes and gardens to convert mighty currents, dig dark coal, pump thick petroleum, and trade the earth's other sacred treasures for cash.  It is the mindset that permits the purification of drinking water for those who can afford it and the pollution of water for those who can't.  It is the mindset that fools our politicians into thinking health care is a business instead of a right.  When Jesus says "the least," he is talking about the whales, lions, and yes, even mice and cockroaches being slaughtered.  "The least" are those whose true survival is out of their hands.  In this way, all earth inhabitants are bonded too.  Our shared survival depends on the implementation of true justice and peace within our shared space. We are all "the least" and equally deserve self-determination within our interplanetary home.

Everlasting life, salvation if you will, through Jesus is the core message of Christianity.  More than words or self-preservation, though, salvation inherently requires an active struggle against climate collapse for the planet's survival.  Saved by Jesus, the Christian Ecofeminist Missionary's own salvation depends on the salvation of all other living and nonliving earth inhabitants.  In this way, we do live forever in the life cycle's continued rotation.

There is no time for bias against earthly division.  God's first creation welcomes you with open arms into both the salvation of humans and our planet.

Glory be to God
and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,
as it was in the beginning
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen, amen.

Together, we are the difference.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Gathering Resources for Continued Development

The AHMEN-SIFAT Initiative's Byron Morales continues to live and work in Honduras, and he had a busy February.  Read below to learn about his ongoing development work in Honduras with AHMEN.



By: Byron Morales
ASI Initiative Coordinator


During February our initiative has concentrated on follow up with medicine donations, follow up to building relationships with Union Biblica about potential partnership with AHMEN and the organization and execution of the Jutiapa Workshop.
New projections are being proposed this month to AHMEN and the continuation of community work after ending the training in Jutipa.


After distributing all the initial donations we continue with the MAP-CONSEDE-ASI coordination to get more medicines especially for Cusuna and La Musquitia. We have confidence in our partnership with Lucia Caceres, CONSEDE representative, that we can obtain more donations for the Rio Team coming to La Musquitia next June to use as part of a community development training.

Last month we reported about the interest of Union Biblica Honduras (SCRIPTUTE UNION) to partner with AHMEN in sharing their educational materials to train teachers from the communities where AHMEN and the and Community Agents have presence. This month we met with the National Director, Orlando Japas, to design a strategy of cooperation to submit it to the AHMEN Executive Committee and explore ways of shared impact with this partnership.
Another subject with Union Biblica is an interest in involving the young Community Agent graduates and those currently in the training program to be trained by Union Biblica and Tear Fund support in Total Mission. This would be especially beneficial for those involved in youth ministries in churches. They provide the training and three days in one of their huge campus in Siguatepeque for only $10 per participant. We are preparing a proposal for AHMEN Executive Committee to consider if this could be a focus after we finished the current training community agents program.



On February 23-26, the first workshop for the Advanced Level was held in the Clinic of Jutiapa with the support of the Mayor's Office and Dr. Noe Guardado.
After some intensive weeks of follow up to the Community Agents in their communities in coordination with the Mayor's assistant and the new Coordinator, Ms. Saby Jimenez, and against one of the strongest storms of the year, we had 35 of 45 agents attend the workshop.

Because of the extraordinary storm these days, it was very difficult for the Agents to arrive, and some of them could not cross the creeks coming to Jutiapa. The Municipality has agreed with the ASI initiative to develop a 1-day supplemental workshop to update the 10 Agents who could not come.

I want to extend a special thanks to the continued work of Sonia Barahona, one of our best volunteers. We also had the presence of the firemen and police officers who were available and on alert in the case of evacuation of families from communities under flood risk. Jutiapa police officers also joined us to support the subject of how "the law" responds to child sexual abuse prevention.
This was one of the subjects developed during the workshop. It was dynamic presentations were each attendant shared several hard personal and community experiences.

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Sonia Barahona, one of the most active agents, shared her experience using her house as a refugee for abused and abandoned girls from the communities. She has been treated by abusers but her courage and the support of the policemen is saving and protecting lives.
Since the sexual abuse is a crime penalized and processed by legal actions, we counted with the support of the local police headquarter. Agent Mejia shared several real cases from the most violent to the basic situations of potential abuse and risk. The Community Agents learned how to handle denounce and how to be in contact directly with the police station. Now every agent has the direct cell phone number for a rapid answer and support from the police. This is taken as a way to make safe spaces in the communities beginning with networking against abusers.

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Officer Miglan Soto, Unit Boss of the Firemen, presenting some cases they have had also to face in his job. The same way as we trained the gents in Yorito and are now part of the Immediate Emergency and Disaster Response, we plan to have the training with Mr. Soto and his team.

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A second subject developed during the workshops was about cre of the Pregnancy woman, delivery and the new born
With the volunteer contribution of Drs. Melvin and Ana Pacheco, the Agents had some of the most real cases, video, information and all the basic for caring the pregnancy woman and support of deliver and transfer of cases in the communities to the Hospital and Clinics.

PICTURE: Drs. Melvin and Ana Pacheco, some of the most highly committed physicians and community workers

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Another important actor coordinating with the ASI initiative is the Youths Network funded but the Municipality. Some of them are registered community agents in training with us and attended the workshop.
Kenya is one of the most active young women in violence prevention and designing alternatives for the youths in the communities to avoid involving in gangs, one of the main structural rpblems in Honduras.

PICTURE: Kenya Cedillo (red shirt), secretary of the Jutiapa Youths Network from the Municipality

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PICTURE: Youths from the YOUTHS NETWORKING, active attendants to the ASI workshops.

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Among the participants we also counted with a famous woman in the communities known as Gigi, Ms. Juana Celestina Arzu (picture: right side). She is an agent protecting women’s rights who came to encourage the agents to continue serving and working for the rights of women and children in Honduras. Her presence was just inspirational.
Finally, we counted with the committed support of the new coordinator, Saby Jimenez, she is the new delegated by the Mayor to coordinate all the logistic preparation and the organization of next activities, follow up and workshops.

Gracias Sabi!

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If you would like to donate to the work Byron Morales is doing on behalf of AHMEN in Honduras, click here now.  If you would like to work with Byron's community agents in Honduras, contact me today!

Together, we are the difference.