Alabama Honduras Medical Educational Network
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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Río de Agua Viva 2017 - Christian Ecofeminist Mission Work in Honduras!!

When it comes to sending volunteers in the mission field, River of Living Water United Methodist Church in Jasper, Alabama is one of a kind. I don't think they can even count how many different volunteers the church has sent to Honduras over the last 18 years AHMEN has been up and running. Nonetheless, every volunteer from the past continues to set an example for future volunteers. In my next two blog posts I will be writing about the character and accomplishments of ROLW UMC's three volunteers who joined this year's Río de Agua Viva team.

The first individual I would like to tell you about is named Autumn Thornton. Autumn attended her first meeting to join the Río team back in January, and she immediately took to the idea of teaching a lesson on ecofeminism. While this topic is one that I have been promoting in mission work for several years now, I was elated when I heard from the community agents in Raistá that they wanted to learn more about both ecology and feminism. What a grand opportunity, I thought, to try out ecofeminism as part of Christian mission work in Honduras. What an even better stroke of luck that our team recruited a volunteer to teach it. And wouldn't you know it, another woman named Madison Lachney joined the team and wanted to partner with Autumn!

In addition to teaching the concept of ecofeminism to sixty community agents using art and history, Autumn and Madison led discussions on two Latin American feminists: Frida Kahlo and Berta Cáceres. It was an amazing sight to watch as two young white women from the southern U.S. talked about two Latin American feminist icons to Miskito women from the most-isolated parts of Honduras. Furthermore, Autumn and Madison led the group in planting moringa trees as a way to center local feminist unity around nature and combating malnutrition.

What was truly noteworthy, however, was the fact that Autumn and Madison were able to get the Miskito community agents to write letters to their governments expressing their concerns and needs. In a volatile world where the government "doesn't care" about indigenous communities like the Miskito, it is a true mark of empowerment that the ASI-Raistá community agents felt confident enough to communicate their grievances.

Below are the letters that members of ASI-Raistá wrote. (I have erased identifying information for the protection of the letters' authors.)

Autumn plans to mail the letters to the President of Honduras and the US Embassy in Honduras to help raise awareness of the needs in and around Raistá.  She also plans to focus on mobilizing a specific group of women to formally meet and discuss ecofeminist issues on a regular basis.  

To continue workshops like ASI-Raistá, AHMEN needs donors.  Go to www.honduranmissions.com.  Click the "donate" button, and describe your donation as "ASI - Byron's Workshops."  Please also email me your name and information so I can thank you personally.  You may also send a check made out to "AHMEN" with "ASI - Byron's Workshops" on the "For" line to:

AHMEN/Sharon Bowie 
516 Ridgeview Dr
Jasper, Al 35504

Please consider scheduling a monthly donation of as little as $10 per month. If you would like to learn more about how to join our Río de Agua Viva team, contact me today!

Together, we are the difference.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Importance of Being Earnest --- And Meeting Mishka!

Last month I wrote about all the traveling my wife Lane and I have done this summer.  Including airports and the United States we spent time in 3 countries and 10 states in less than a month!  When we returned we were zonked!  I don't know how the Presidential candidates do it for 2 years straight!  I guess that's why I should set my sights on Congress first to build up my endurance.

Well, today I want to share with you the feelings I experienced during our milestone tour.  2017 will always go down in history as the year I got married to my soulmate at Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Alabama.  It will always be the year I went on the best honeymoon any guy could ever ask for to El Dorado Casitas Royale in Riviera Maya Mexico.  Furthermore, 2017 will always be the year that I received the Applegate-Dorros Peace and International Understanding Award from the National Education Association.

These major life events have in common that they all happened within a few months of each other, but each also made me feel important.  Getting married and being a part of a wedding meant the spotlight was all on Lane and me.  We felt like celebrities with all of our friends and family surrounding us and celebrating our love for each other.  The entire weekend was just lovely; Walt Disney could not have delivered more notable nuptials.  On the other hand, being pampered like royalty on our honeymoon gave me a whole different feeling.  Although my cousin Mark may disagree, I don't think I ever knew pampering until I set foot inside the grounds of Karisma's El Dorado Resort.  I am almost scared of how accustomed I became to my every need being taken care of at the drop of a hat.  Luckily Lane and my money ran out just before I might have experienced a true personality shift.  Finally, the NEA Human and Civil Rights awards ceremony invoked a feeling of pride and the validation I wrote about in my previous blog.  It was a completely humbling experience to watch my face, our work in Honduras, plastered on the big screen in front of 2,000 people and be labeled one who acts on behalf of "peace and international understanding."  Thank you to everyone who has made me feel so important over the last few months.

Watch My Acceptance Speech

But what truly makes me feel important is to know God sent me an angel in Lane, an angel who would support me in my mission in Honduras.  I feel significant because God trusted me to go on a luxury honeymoon and still have the conviction to continue my work in Honduras, knowing all well I could quit and enjoy more down time anytime I wanted.  What makes me feel influential is that my passion for social justice was recognized by people much more powerful than me.  That I was able to communicate the need for #JusticeForHonduras in my lifetime is why I write this blog.  All this being said, what will make me feel like a paramount member of society is if we can actually achieve that justice in my lifetime.

What is fundamentally important then is facilitating real change in the world.  I am ready for the next step.  It is past time to take greater action.  Long gone is the time to worry about finding a band aid to plug the locks when the dam itself is the problem.  If you are interested in joining me in Honduras on an educational team with AHMEN please contact me today.  If you are interested in developing real solutions for empowering the impoverished of Honduras, please contact me today.  If you are interested in donating to my personal projects in Honduras, please contact me today.

Without your help I won't be able to take that next step, for it is together that we are the difference.


Not to be forgotten from the many amazing memories this summer is when I got to see a performance by the Bermuda-borne reggae artist Mishka whose music speaks to everything I believe.