Honduras Visit 2017

“Only God and Vecinos Honduras visits these villages.” (Edwin Escoto, Vecinos Honduras Program Coordinator.)

“Only God and Vecinos Honduras visits these villages,” says Edwin Escoto, with a smile and a glance in the rearview mirror as he drives.

He is the Vecinos Honduras Program Coordinator, and at this point in the journey, I am starting to believe him.

It is October, and we are in a Toyota 4×4 in the mountains of Honduras. The road is becoming more rough, winding and washed out as we climb.

I am here in an official capacity as a board member of World Neighbours Canada, to monitor the Maternal and Child Health Project funded by Global Affairs Canada, in partnership with our private donors.

Vera Radyo and Magda Lanuza from the Kenoli Foundation are also in the truck. They partner on these projects and we’ve coordinated the visit.

Canadian recreational 4x4ing did little to prepare me for the realities of Honduran backcountry driving

This is my first time in Honduras, and I’ve come with no expectations. By that, I mean I had essentially no understanding about what lay ahead.

There is clearly an agenda. I catch bits of it, in Spanish, as they discuss the coming days. And I understand they have filled my time with plans to visit several villages to see many things. I’d read the proposal and the reports about the projects, so I knew what this was all about, at least on an academic level. But I couldn’t find the project areas on a map, and I’ve had little experience outside of my Canadian upbringing.

Plus, I don’t speak a word of Spanish, so finding out the plans is a challenge all around. So I keep an open mind, and listen intently to the Spanish sentences, trying to pick up what I can, asking for translation when a translator was available.

Luckily, I’ve driven on rough roads before, though Canadian recreational 4x4ing did little to prepare me for the realities of Honduran backcountry driving. But it helped to quell the panic about the steep inclines and the washouts; the men walking with machetes, and pretending not to be startled when we come across motorcycles rushing at us on blind corners (sometimes on the wrong side of the road). The backs of others trucks we see are full of extra passengers, making the trek up to the villages, or down to Danli, the nearest city.

Almost two hours later: “We get out here.” It’s a farmer’s gathering. We are in a village named Las Flores, and they are expecting us.

It’s a transformed soccer field, with people of all ages celebrating. There is a row of tables on one side of the field, displaying fruit, vegetables. One table has recycled containers of organic fertilizer and pesticides – methods they are learning and teaching each other, from Vecinos Honduras workshops.

All these are the fruits of the labour put in by village participants, who are learning and teaching each other, as part of Vecinos Honduras projects.

It was a grand start to four days of visiting in both the Azabache and the El Guano areas, listening to the stories of project participants, learning about their lives, their struggles, and their successes.

In Claveles, I visited family homes, then a meeting to weigh and measure their young children.

Monthly baby weigh-in sessions are improving child health in Honduras.

The monthly weigh-in is a part of their routine now, thank you to the programs. Before, mothers could never be sure how their babies were growing, or if they were thriving. Now, they see the numbers, and if the young ones are not thriving they get some hands-on advice. Usually, the next month sees an improvement, along with much relief to the mothers and fathers.

In my time in the villages, I watched a monthly child stimulation class; I visited health committee meetings, and heard about goals and struggles.

La Libertad has land set aside for a health centre – they want to put up a building where they can maybe bring in a nurse to help care for pregnant mothers, young children and other health needs. Now, they have to walk about three hours on the rough roads to get to the nearest health centre – in Beuna Esperanza.

Not only did we visit the current project areas, we made a few stops in the El Guano area. This is an area where there are examples of great success from past Vecinos Honduras projects.

Eva Lagos has mastered the making and selling of fried plantain chips, and is supporting her children’s attendance in a better school with her profits.

For example, we visited Eva Lagos, who has mastered the making and selling of fried plantain chips, after learning at a Vecinos Honduras workshop. She sells many pre-packaged bags – enough to make more than $400 USD per month, which she uses to send her children to a better school.

A coffee co-op meeting was held in El Guano, where we heard about the co-op’s successes and ongoing challenges. They have made enough of a profit that they have started a micro-lending program – one per cent interest for women, two per cent for men – a far cry from the interest rates offered by intermediaries who lend to the communities at a huge interest rate that can virtually never be re-paid. We also visited a member of the co-op who used a loan from the coffee co-op to build a coffee dryer.

In Claveles, Francisco Aradón, the water board president, told us about their work. The water board now has two female members, and his village is installing a new water system. Their next goal is to purchase the chlorine they want to use to keep the water safer – something they learned about at a Vecinos Honduras workshop.

Felicita Zaróm back in 2007, after installing an improved stove in her home.

In the El Guano area, I met Felicita Zaróm, who was a participant in Vecinos Honduras programs more than 10 years ago, building one of the first indoor stoves. She’s a community health promoter, and says the programs have changed her life.

Felicita Zaróm now, in 2017, 10 years later.

“I feel like a free woman. After these trainings I realized I was able to speak up in a meeting. I learned to socialize with others, I learned to speak up and have no more fears,” she says.

In my time there, not only did I see the latrines being built  – I used them. I washed my hands, and some dishes, at the pilas (a combination between a sink and a water tank); I drank coffee and spice tea made on the indoor, smokeless stoves that are being installed at a rapid rate in homes.

On my last day, I visited a village called San Jose, where Vecinos Honduras was sponsoring a celebration – the International Day of Rural Girls and Women. It took place in a concrete building with a tin roof – hot, sweaty inside. But there was grand celebration – dancing, pinatas, and lunch. I danced with Manuel Castellanos, the community participation facilitator.

I left Honduras with a much better understanding of our programs, the people who run them, and the people who participate. I learned to say Buenos Dias, Mucho Gusto, and Gracias – so much to be thankful for, and much to celebrate in these hard-won successes in the remote communities of Honduras.

If you are interested in seeing more about the programs in Honduras and more images, here’s a slideshow. You can hover over the images and use right and left arrows to view the images below!

Christmas Gift Idea!

Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift? Please consider making a donation to World Neighbours Canada in someone’s name.

Your family member or friend will receive a beautiful handmade card with a photo from one of our programs, and a needy community will benefit from your generosity. Our cards are made individually by our volunteers, so if you would like photos from a particular country that we work in, just let us know!

And remember, the entire amount of your donation will go directly to support one of our programs in Nepal, Burkina Faso, or Honduras.

To arrange this, visit our donation page by clicking here. You can choose to make a one-time or recurring donation of any amount, and enter information about who you would like us to send the card to.

As always, contact us anytime for more information.

New Online Donation Options

World Neighbours Online DonationsWe are pleased to announce some new online donation options now available through our World Neighbours Canada website.

Now, you can visit and donate through our site, on our Donation page here.

Your donation can be made on a one-time basis, or on a recurring, on-going monthly or annual subscription basis! You can also re-visit at any time to change or cancel your scheduled donation.

World Neighbours Canada Society relies on public donations. 100% of your donation will go into the projects – we have no paid staff members and our group is run by volunteers (our modest administrative costs are covered by our directors).

We also receive funding from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) as part of the Canadian government’s initiatives for improved Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in developing countries. More information about us here.

If you need any more information, please contact us any time!

Celebrating Mothers

GRAY0662If you are wondering how to honour your mother this Mother’s Day, why not consider making a donation in her name to World Neighbours Canada and have your money go directly to support mothers not as fortunate as yours.

All our projects support some of the poorest women in areas of Nepal, Honduras and Burkina Faso and provide opportunities for women, and often mothers, to acquire skills that will allow them to earn a little money of their own, improve their health and better care for their children.Honduran Mother 05-30-2006

Should you wish to have a card sent to your mother as a memento of your gift, please send an email to the following address (bruce@worldneighbours.ca), along with your name, and the name and address of the recipient and a card will be mailed shortly. Information about making a donation is available on the website. www.worldneighbours.ca 

The Edmonton Eskimos' , against the BC Lions' , during first half CFL Football action in Edmonton, Alberta on Friday, August 19, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ian Jackson

Change in work for WNC director

posted by Judy Gray, with information from Laurena Rehbeinheadshot2

Laurena Rehbein, one of World Neighbours Canada’s directors, has recently announced some big news regarding her work.

“With great excitement, I am pleased to announce that I am embarking on a new adventure,” Laurena recently said in a news release. “As of April 11, I have stepped into a new role as a remote employee of a company named Automattic.”

For the last number of years, Laurena has been self-employed running her graphic design and web development business, Write this Down Freelancing. Her new position will be a very natural extension of that work, as it revolves around the open-source web-building software called WordPress, which is used to power approximately 25% of the world’s websites (including the World Neighbours Canada’s website, and most of the others built by Laurena over past years).

“My job title will be ‘Happiness Engineer’ and I will be part of an amazing team that provides user support to eCommerce clients with the WooCommerce plugin,” she said. “I’ve also had to dust off my passport, as there is a fair bit of travelling involved.”

Her new position is a remote position, meaning she will still be working from Oliver, and will still be occupying her office on Oliver’s Main Street.

Since last fall, Laurena has also been part of the South Okanagan WordPress Meetup group, which will still continue and is and looking for new members. This group is an informal get-together for anyone who uses WordPress – for personal use, as a business-person, or as a developer. The meetings are free, and happen once per month at the Oliver Bakery. (http://www.meetup.com/South-Okanagan-WordPress-Meetup/)

As always, her commitment to World Neighbours Canada (WNC) remains strong. As is the case for all of the board members, her position is completely volunteer – WNC has no paid staff and minimal overhead, meaning all of your donations can be used directly for the ongoing projects. Laurena’s primary role with WNC is to design and layout the twice-annual newsletters, as well as website maintenance.

Praise for Burkina Faso’s new government

posted by Judy Gray     article by Neven Mimica from theGuardian

A recent article by Neven Mimica, published in theGuardian praised the Burkinabé government for the peaceful way that transitions occurred after last November’s elections. Mimica adds that “the EU is confident in the future of Burkina Faso, even though we are aware of the high expectations in the country and of the regional challenges. Indeed, work needs to continue to consolidate stability, reconciliation and democratisation, in the context of the terrorist and extremist threat to the region.” As a result of the nature of the transition and the efforts of the new government, Mimica states that the “EU has committed around €623m (£481m) for the coming years: we will support governance, access to healthcare, water and sanitation, resilience and food security.”

To read the entire article, follow the link …

International Women’s Day in Honduras

posted by Judy Gray; with information from Vera Radyo 

Vera Radyo, Executive Director of the Kenoli Foundation, a Vancouver-based organization with which World Neighbours Canada works closely in Central America is currently in Honduras to visit project areas in that country. Vera is also a friend and supporter of World Neighbours Canada, and she is the co-chair of the BC Council for International Cooperation. Here are her comments about the situation in that country; especially important on International Women’s Day (March 8th), in light of the recent murder of Berta Caceres, a long-time indigenous human rights activist. image2

Vera writes: “I salute my sisters all around the world on this special day!  I am honoured to be in Honduras to share in the struggles of women here.

It is not an easy time here. As we arrived in the capital city, Tegucigalpa, it was raining heavily, so rare during this time of year that is known for its never ending sun. As we drove south into the dry corridor, we saw so many rivers dried out. Both are examples of extreme climate change.
However, what has shocked people in Honduras and worldwide, is the recent murder of Berta Caceres – an Indigenous Lenca woman, human rights and environmental activist.  She was opposing the lack of consultation with Indigenous people about a proposed dam on their lands. We met Berta a few years ago and she was friends with a couple of people on the Kenoli team.  Many think her death was politically motivated, to silence her and others like her.
We joined a women’s march and forum opposing violence against women.  We learned that in the last 5 years, there have been 5,500 women murdered in Honduras.  95% of murderers are never brought to justice in this country that has one of the highest murder rates in the world. image1

I was impressed with the courage and determination of the women at the forum.  They were not about to be silenced, nor do they want her death to be in vain.  They will not allow her death to be forgotten and become another statistic of unsolved murders. Continue reading “International Women’s Day in Honduras”

WNC project in Honduras to expand

by Bruce Petch, director

World Neighbours Canada support in Honduras expands to Valle
 
World Neighbours Canada has provided support for rural development in Honduras since its inception in 1988. Federal government funding approved last year will allow our partner organization, Vecinos Honduras, to provide assistance in new areas. Vecinos Honduras will support 10 communities in Nacaome municipaHonduraslity and 8 communities in Langue municipality. Both areas are in the department of Valle, located near the Pacific coast and known for its dry climate and poverty. Unfortunately, it is necessary to discontinue activities in several communities in Danli municipality (El Paraiso department) because of security concerns. Violent crime is pervasive in Honduras and travel to many locations is dangerous.
The overall objective of the federal government
Langue Nacone Detailsupport is to decrease mortality rates of mothers and young children. Ironically, the extreme levels of crime (Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world) will make project implementation particularly challenging.

APDC perspective on attacks in Ouagadougou

by Judy Gray, WNC director, with information from Charles Tankoano

We recently received the following information from Charles Tankoano, coordinator of APDC, our partner NGO in Burkina Faso. I had emailed to ask for on-the-ground information about the horrible massacre that took place in the capital city, Ouagadougou, on January 16, 2016. Though our project activities take place in the Fada n’Gourma region, about 200 km. east of Ouagadougou, the recent attack on innocent people has resulted in a dramatic reaction from the populace. Here is a translation of Charles’ email: “Thank you for your concern about this drama in Ouagadougou. We are doing well but no one is happy with these attacks by Muslim extremists. They undermine the security that our country has been benefitting from, and which had rendered this landlocked and impoverished country attractive to other countries and peoples. Peace, stability and security had been preserved until that day and had allowed Burkina Faso to be a country open to the world. These deadly attacks will likely have a significant negative impact on the dynamism of tourist visits to this country,  especially those visiting from western countries. Despite this recent problem, the Burkinabé people continue their daily activities throughout the country and calm has returned. The army and all other security forces have divided the country into sectors in order to ensure greater oversight and control. The leaders of the neighbouring West African countries are pooling their efforts and discussing strategies to better cope with this threat.”

For more information on the Al-Qaeda attack, please click on one of the following links: BBC or CBC . Continue reading “APDC perspective on attacks in Ouagadougou”

He’ll be missed …

(L to R) Mary Hunter, Susan Duncan , Suresh Shrestha, Dave Denbigh ~ during Suresh' presentation to the TRU nursing students in September 2015.
(L to R) Mary Hunter, Susan Duncan , Suresh Shrestha, Dave Denbigh ~ during Suresh’ presentation to the TRU nursing students in September 2015.

by Judy Gray and Bruce Petch with information from Libby Denbigh

We are very sad to announce that David Denbigh, a director with World Neighbours Canada passed away suddenly on 7 December. David was an excellent spokesperson and supporter of WNC, and was often called upon to explain the philosophy and uniqueness of our organization. Each time he spoke, his conviction and interest in WNC was expressed clearly, succinctly and with genuine enthusiasm. Both Dave and his wife Libby had a particular interest in the Nepal water and sanitation projects and visited the area on two occasions ~ once with their extended family ~ to view the newly installed water system in the village of Salleni. The water system was dedicated to their late daughter Rachel, for whom the people of Nepal had a special place in her heart. We will miss Dave’s contribution on the Board.

Dave Denbigh with his family in Salleni, Nepal
Dave Denbigh with his family in Salleni, Nepal

The family’s obituary follows …

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden loss of David Denbigh who passed away the evening of Dec 7th surrounded by his family. He is survived by his mother Anne, wife Libby, daughter Sarah (Brian), son Ian (Gina), brother Tony (Gerri), nephew Charlie and niece Mary-Anne, as well as grandchildren Cesar, Sumiko, Yuma and Olyn.

He is predeceased by his father Ian Denbigh and his daughter Rachel (Aaron).

David lived a full and rich life. He was passionate about teaching and his career with school district 73 spanned over 30 years and included high-school to elementary to adult education. He did not just teach within school hours but spent immeasurable time coaching and refereeing basketball, directing children’s plays, driving to field trips and many other activities. He loved to ski, golf and flyfish. Teaching his grandchildren these sports was a joy for him. In retirement, David, and his wife Libby took to travelling. Together they have visited many countries always returning with vibrant pictures and interesting stories.

The family has asked that donations be made to World Neighbours Canada, Box 1771, Oliver, V0H 1T0 or www.worldneighbours.ca
A celebration of life will be held Jan 2nd from 12 noon to 3 pm at Hoodoos restaurant located at Sun Rivers.”