NY/HELP Honduras

2001 Annual Report

NY/HELP Honduras, a joint mission project of the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ and the Northeast Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has been working with the Indian community of La Laguna in the Yoro mountains of Honduras since 1989. During this time, many of our church folks from New York have made trips to Honduras, both to teach and to learn in this village. This past year, three groups traveled there (in February, March, and July), to work with the people in the village. A major milestone was reached with the inauguration of the drinking-water system in March - a project on which the villagers, NY/HELP, and the national water authority had all cooperated. Other projects include:

1. La Laguna's health clinic, which serves over 1,500 patients a year from seven communities. The clinic provides basic and emergency health care to people who would otherwise have to travel several hours to government-run facilities, which are often lacking in medicine. Currently the clinic is without a nurse, but we expect to soon hire Mirtila Garcia, a young woman from the village who has worked with us since 1989, and who is just finishing nurse's training this year.

2. The secondary school project, which provides scholarships to students so they can pursue a secondary education in the nearby city of Yoro. In Honduras, very few students from rural communities like La Laguna are able to continue their education beyond 6th grade. Six of our seven recipients in 2001 did well enough this year in colegio (secondary school) or CEVER (the vocational school started by our sister E & R church in Honduras) to receive scholarships again in 2002. If all goes well with Norma Carcamo in 9th grade, we could have our first colegio graduate later this year. Two additional students from La Laguna are starting 7th grade in 2002 with NY/HELP scholarships.

3. The boarding house project, in which NY/HELP is working with the Walker Center in Massachusetts to provide a safe boarding house in Yoro for those students from the La Laguna area who are attending secondary school or CEVER . We have hired a retired pastor and his wife to be houseparents for the students there. Pastor José Feliciano and his wife Petronida have worked hard to provide a good home for the children from La Laguna.

4. The sustainable agriculture project, a three-year project lasting through 2002, with Sustainable Harvest International <http://www.sustainableharvest.org>,a non-governmental organization that works with farmers to develop sustainable agricultural practices that protect the natural environment and produce higher crop yields. NY/HELP is currently paying the salary of an SHI extensionist who will work with farmers in La Laguna and surrounding communities.

5. The women's sewing coop, where NY/HELP supports the women's sewing coop in La Laguna by providing them with sewing machines, material and technical assistance, and by helping them market their products in New York and Honduras. The women have also started a breakfast program for all the young children in the village, which provides a nutritious breakfast several times a week.

6. The men's woodworking coop, where NY/HELP helps support the men's woodworking coop by providing supplies and technical assistance, and by helping to market their products. Several young men in the village have been taught how to make chairs, by the students who went to the Greenwood School program several years ago.

A second milestone occurred when our two nurses from La Laguna came to visit us here in New York state! Wualditrudis Centeno-Amaya and Maria Garcia are two young women from La Laguna whom NY/HELP sent to nursing school. Since 1995, they had been working in the village clinic. This summer, they both were given scholarships to go for advanced training in rural health in El Paso, Texas. With this preparation, they expect to return to the Yoro mountains, where they will be "health promoters" over a much wider area. Over Christmas, they visited homes and churches in Arcade, Buffalo, and Honeoye, where many of us New Yorkers got to meet them. NY/HELP is providing support for their children while they are in school.

Planning for the future is proceeding, as well. Under the guidance of our conference minister, Rev. Geoffrey Black, NY/HELP held two "Futuring" meetings to review our past, organize our present, and plan our future as a mission project of the Disciples of Christ and the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ. Among the goals for our next trips are the joint planning of projects with the people of La Laguna and the development of better security in the village, since two of our members were robbed during the March trip. In New York, a project to introduce New Yorkers to the dolls and other handcrafts made in the village is underway. For more information on this project, contact Mrs. Dolores Hemming, 173 Old Stage Rd., Groton, NY 13073.

Check our web page for more information (and pictures!). Go to the New York Conference web page at <http://www.ucc.org> Click on the "Church Web Links" and then click on NY/HELP Honduras.

Or go directly to <http://www.ny-helphonduras.org>

Gordon F. Comstock MD, NY/HELP