Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NY/HELP Meeting Sunday, November 15

Our next NY/HELP meeting will be Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 2PM at the Arcade United Church of Christ. Any and all who are interested are invited. Use the back door and we meet in the first door to the left.

We will review the August 2009 trip and discuss arrangements for the Feb 2010 trip. We will also need to discuss Yovany & Sustainable Harvest's coming change of focus from the La Laguna area to Sulaco and how this will affect our mission trips.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

On Again - Off Again

From LaPrensa at 11am this morning. English translation is below the Spanish.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Los representantes del depuesto presidente de Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, y del de facto Roberto Micheletti, podrían reanudar hoy el diálogo para la integración del Gobierno de unidad, tras el fracaso del primer intento en ese sentido el pasado jueves. Jorge Arturo Reina, miembro de la Comisión de Verificación en representación de Zelaya, dijo hoy a los periodistas que el diálogo se podría reanudar al mediodía. Agregó que "hay un preacuerdo" para volver a la mesa de diálogo alcanzado al parecer tras extensas conversaciones mantenidas ayer viernes con los miembros de la Comisión de Verificación, la representación de la OEA y el embajador de Estados Unidos en Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, entre otros, enmarcadas en el Acuerdo Tegucigalpa-San José.
En términos similares se expresó Arturo Corrales, representante de Micheletti en la Comisión de Verificación. Corrales afirmó que "el diálogo sigue", pero no precisó si se reanudará este mediodía, aunque dejó entrever que así sería.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

The representatives of the deposed President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya and the de facto president Roberto Micheletti, said that the dialogue could resume today for the integration of the unity government, following a failed first attempt in that direction Thursday.
Jorge Arturo Reina, a member of the Credentials Committee representing Zelaya, said to reporters that the dialogue could resume at noon. He added that "there is a pre-agreement" to return to the negotiating table apparently reached after extensive discussions yesterday Friday with members of the Credentials Committee, the representation of the OAS and the U.S. ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, between others, framed in Tegucigalpa-San José Agreement.
Arturo Corrales, Micheletti representative on the Credentials Committee, expressed similar terms. Corrales said that "the dialogue continues," but did not say whether it will resume at noon today, but hinted that it would.

Vote Postponed on Deal to End Crisis

According to the deal worked out earlier, Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti had agreed to let Congress vote on whether to return Zelaya to the presidency, as the international community has been demanding. But congressional leaders, who backed the coup, have yet to call a vote. The accord had also required forming a temporary "unity cabinet" with representatives of both sides. It seems now that Micheletti has put together a "unity" cabinet without Zelaya or any of his supporters. This is from the Buffalo News 11/7/09

According to this morning's LaPrensa Micheletti announced Thursday (11/5) a "hold" during the weekend to finalize the Government of Unity and National Reconciliation following the refusal of deposed Manuel Zelaya to participate in the new cabinet.

There seem to be conflicting stories on why the unity cabinet has not been formed.

Barbara Joe, a returned Peace Corps volunteer who has been keeping close track of the situation on her blog - listed below.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Honduras Rivals Resolve Deadlock

The de facto Honduran government has agreed to a deal that may allow ousted President Manuel Zelaya to return to power ahead of elections next month. Under the deal, the Supreme Court must authorize the Congress to vote on whether to allow Mr. Zelaya to return to power and serve the remaining three months of his term. It also calls for a commission to investigate the events surrounding Mr. Zelaya's removal from office.

Roberto Micheletti said the agreement would create a power-sharing government and require both sides to recognise the result of November's presidential poll. The opponents had earlier been told by US Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon that they had to reach an accord in order to ensure international support for the election on 29 November. Mr Zelaya described the accord as a "triumph for Honduran democracy", and said he was "optimistic" of returning to power.

Other writings on this subject might be interesting as well. There is a good Peace Corps blog by Barbara Joe

Left: 10-29-09 Zelaya & US Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon

Right: Interim President Roberto Micheletti delivering speech on 10-29-09

AP Photos

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Message from Honduras

On Thursday, I received a message from Yovany.

He said he was with the group for the past few days. All in the group are fine. There were no problems getting to Yoro with three members of the group, on Sunday, August 02nd and with Dr. Gordon and Selvin, on Monday, Aug 03rd. The 4 volunteers are in La Laguna, working in medical clinic. The other 4 Peace Corps volunteers are working in an up-date of the situation of the watershed and water projects of 4 communities of the Tribe. The past two days. they visited the project of La Laguna and Mataderos and now, they will be in El Paraiso village. When they elaborate the reports, they will analyze it with Communal Water Boards, for repair or improvement of those projects.

One of the Peace Corps volunteers, Andrew found his mom, Nancy and they are working together in La Laguna.

If I hear more, I will post it.

Keep this group in your prayers as they work in these remove villages in Honduras.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Trip had a Bit of an Unusual Start

Gordon lost his passport when leaving the Buffalo to Atlanta plane in Atlanta on Sunday, Aug 2. Fortunately, when he went back looking for it he found the person who had found it! Unfortunately, he was not in time to make the flight to San Pedro Sula with the other three! He managed to get scheduled on the same flight for Monday. His sister Marty & brother-in-law Dan live in Atlanta. I made contact with them & Marty went to the airport and managed to find him. That way he didn't have to spend the night in an airport chair! Monday morning she took him back to the airport and he made his flight.

About 1pm I got an email from another NY/HELPer, Lito Gutiérrez saying he called the clinic nurse, Mirtil, to let her know that Gordon was delayed. This evening about 8:45pm Lito called me to let me know that all were safe in La Laguna now.

The next update will probably be after August 13, when they come down from the mountain and are able to get to an Internet café.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

August Mission Trip Begins

This morning the 4 members of the August mission trip to Honduras (Eileen Brittain, Hanna Zetterstrand-Robinson, Nancy Savoy and Gordon Comstock are on their way. They met at the Buffalo Airport at 4am to organize the 8 bags of supplies they are transporting. Their flight was leaving at 6:15am and will arrive in San Pedro Sula, Honduras about 11:15am (1:15pm Eastern Daylight time) to start their 2-week mission.

As we get information, it will be posted here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Will the Situation in Honduras Affect the August 2009 Mission Trip?

We received this message from Yovany Munguía in Honduras.

July 9, 2009
Special Situation in Honduras: Political Crisis
And its Impact on the Arrival of the Group.

As you know, on June 28, the National Congress, supported by the Armed Forces and other government entities, proceeded to remove from power the country's president until that time, Manuel Zelaya..

The main reason was that he was acting in illegality to promote and implement the June 28 political poll, for people to see if they want the establishment of a National Constitutional Assembly, with the veiled en of his reelection, as have several other countries in South America (Venezuela, Ecuador and recently Bolivia). Therefore, Mel Zelaya is facing a number of charges in this country, because apart from this poll being illegal, there are a number of other administrative anomalies.

The error of the new authorities was to have the former president unexpectedly sacked and sent into exile, rather than start a trial in the country and if convicted, sent to prison. This resulted in demonstrations for and against the former president in the major cities, and a climate of uncertainty and tension in the whole population, but most people still live their daily lives and this has not generated extreme violence.

With regard to the arrival of the group under the current circumstances, I do not see any problem, both in their security, or how to develop their work. Airports are operating and airlines arrive. Taking of the roads is not occurring (to prevent the passage to Yoro from SPS) and if blocked, they are cleared by the police. Trade is open for the purchase of supplies and materials. No anti-American sentiment. Once reaching the tribe, everything goes normally, because while there are people who are on one side or another there, this is not open or violent. Clearly we must be prepared for some discomfort along the route to the recreation areas, because we are in an "abnormal" situation in relation to other groups that have come.

It is expected that in the coming days and mainly in the next week the situation will improve and we will have a clearer picture. Today and tomorrow, ¨Mel" Zelaya and the current government will have to move closer to meeting the President of Costa Rica, to find common ground. The majority of the population has this expectation, but are not very confident about it, since both are locked in their positions, but it is a beginning to the end of the crisis. I hope for an early agreement, before the arrival of the group, as I do not think that we can continue in this position for another month.

I will keep you informed on Saturday night and during the next week.

Yovany Munguía, Coordinator, NY/HELP

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A letter from Yovany in Honduras

To David Makepeace of NY/HELP

Dear David,

I’m sorry not to have talked to you until today, but from the 25th to the 30th I have been in Yoro with a group of volunteers and have not had any access to the internet, even though I have seen the news. The situation is calm with sporadic demonstrations in the large cities in favor of Mel’s (Zelaya’s) return to power or others (the majority of the population) to support the new president Robert Michletti, the former president of the congress, staying in power for 6 months until the general elections which will be in November of this year.

Just as the missionaries are saying, the blame for all of this lies with Mel Zelaya, as he wanted to generate a vote in favor of a new constitution that would allow him to be reelected and become the “Chávez” of Central America. The other powers declared this position illegal, and, as the president (now ex-president) would stop this effort, what has happened. It is not the military governing this suffering country but civilian power. I think we are better now.

The August group should not be nervous. Here we expect the situation to settle down in the next two weeks. For your meeting on the 12th (of July in Arcade) we will have the situation in perspective.

Today I met with the Mataderos Tribal Council to program the visit of the group and some projects including the inauguration of the new Centro Básico and the situation of the clinic, but, since I just return from 6 days without seeing my family, I will write you tomorrow about that. Also I am preparing a report to send you of activities and finances. I hope to send it by Friday.

The people in the rural areas are fine so don’t fear. My family and I and the employees of Sustainable Harvest are also well.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Message from Honduras

We received a message from Yovany Munguía just after supper time this evening. I have pasted it below.

"Thanks a lot to Jehovah God that love so much to Honduras (and type of earthquake on the sea, horizontally and no vertically movement of the plaques), we don't have big troubles, destruction or thousands of Hondurans dead. Thank you to you for your permanent praises for Honduras. In the Mataderos tribe there are some destroyed houses and others that are damaged, but all the people that you know are fine. The school building survived the ¨temblor¨ without problems.

There may be problems of communication in the next days, for the movement of the submarine cables that transmit Internet and long distance calls, but in the next week, all will be good (in this aspect)."

I also am reprinting parts of an article (translated from the Spanish) that was on the La Prensa web-site this afternoon.

La Prensa May 29, 2009, 6:01PM
by: Tatiana Paz Morel - -- tatiana.pazt SPAMFILTER

Seven people are reported dead after the earthquake of 7.1 degrees on the Richter scale at 2.24 in the morning of Thursday, I caught the vision to Hondurans and filled with fear.

Damage to property

The authorities of the Standing Committee on Contingencies, Copec, was demolished about 80 houses, three affected bridges and a hospital, 16 schools, eight public buildings, two hotels, seven churches, factories and nine damaged.

The greatest damage to the road network in the country, authorities reported on Public Works, was the rupture of the old bridge La Democracia, El Progreso, Yoro, was impassable and therefore must be reconstructed.

A newly paved stretch of highway CA-5, which links San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, was cracked in Santa Cruz de Yojoa. The road network also suffered breaks in Omoa and Puerto Cortés.

Property of the courthouse was damaged. Although the tremor was felt with more intensity in the Bay Islands and La Ceiba in these areas are not reported significant damage.

The origin

The earthquake occurred at latitude 16.78 north and 16.16 degrees east longitude, the epicenter was 10 km deep and was caused by movement between the Caribbean plate and the North American plate, as the director of the department of Geophysics of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, Gonzalo Cruz.

The strong shaking which lasted about 30 seconds, was felt throughout the country and caused panic among the people who took to the streets in many areas but the power was interrupted.

Damage as reported yesterday
Injured 17
Houses destroyed 80
Houses damaged 175
Bridges damaged 3
Schools damaged 16
Public buildings 8
Hospitals damaged 1
Hotels damaged 9
Church damaged 9
Park& damaged plants 7
Airport 1
Potable water system 2

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake Stikes off Honduras May 28, 2009

There was a powerful 7.1 magnitude earthquake at 2:24 a.m. Thursday morning (May 28) killing at least six people and wounding 40 more. These figures may change.

Southeast of San Pedro Sula, half of the 120-meter (130-yard) Democracy bridge in the town of El Progreso collapsed. This is a bridge over the Ulúa River, the most important river economically.

Maritza Varela, director of the El Progreso Hospital reported that at least 13 injured people were admitted early this morning, one an adult with a hip injury and two minors, one of five years and the other nine were sent to the Mario Catarino Rivas hospital due to severe multiple skull injuries. They are sisters and live in Cologne La Nacional.

Patients from the second floor were taken to area hospital's garage for several hours.

The wall of the court house in San Pedro Sula was damaged.

This is in the area of Santa Barbara, Honduras.

All pictures were from La Prensa on-line.

As more information is learned,
more will be posted here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

NY/HELP Trip - August 2009

The next NY/HELP mission trip to Honduras will be the first two weeks of August! Joining Dr Gordon Comstock will be Nancy Savoy of Buffalo, a women’s health nurse practitioner, and Eileen Brittain of Arcade, who will be our Spanish linguist. We will be having a medical clinic and hopefully survey new water systems.

The last room of the new middle school in near-by Mataderos should be completed by the time we arrive. NY/HELP has been working with people from the local communities to build this school, so that children from this mountainous area could continue their education past 6th grade, without having to go to the “county seat” of Yoro, some 20 miles (and 4 hours travel) away. This has been a big thing for the tribal communities here!

NY/HELP is still in need of donations to help equip the library at the school, as well as donations to provide medicines for the clinic and water projects and health improvements in the ten communities that make up this mountainous neighborhood.

There is still time to join the trip, which leaves August 2. If you are interested, or want more information, contact Gordon or Ginger Comstock at

Monday, March 16, 2009

NY/HELP had a very successful follow-up meeting on Sunday, March 15. We talked about the accomplishments of the 14-member February mission trip. We also began to plan for the next trip in the summer of 2009 -- probably the end of July or the beginning of August. The highlights of the minutes will be posted on our website soon.

The students at the Mataderos school showed great talent as they painted a mural on the side of the school.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The February 2009 group came back on March 1 and will be having a wrap-up meeting on Sunday, March 15, at UCC Church in Arcade, to share accomplishments and plans for the future.

Here is a short statement from David Makepeace ahead of that meeting. More will be posted after the meeting.

"The excitement surrounding NY/HELP these days is palpable and this was also evident on the trip with everyone approaching their jobs with commitment and emotion. We are clearly making great progress in our goal of making the tribe self-sufficient in the three areas of our interest – education, sustainable productivity, and medicine.

I will let the individual group members report on specifics, but, in general, the trip was very productive. We set up the clinic in La Laguna with Dr. Gutiérrez, Dr. Susan Schwartz, “pharmacist mate” Steve Schwartz and medical student Jan Wong and, thanks to gynecological nurse practitioner Ilene Alt and Dr. Liz Zausmer, were able to set up a women’s clinic in Mataderos as well. Dr. Gutiérrez also set out on two occasions by mule to visit outlying villages servicing patients who could not make it to either of our clinics.

Our work projects were many including new roofs, entire homes, stoves and latrines. Dick DeNise, myself, Dana Wilson, Allison Brown and Zack Krause spread our efforts among five of the ten villages in the area with two separate overnight trips to El Paraiso and Agua Blanca respectively."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hola amigos,

Thursday, February 26, we heard from Kelly Beers, reporting for the NY/HELP mission group. She says the trip went really really well. They accomplished a lot; all the doctors kept really busy and the time in Honduras was a success. The group is now taking a day of vacation before heading back to the states this weekend.

More will be reported after they return and we have a 'wrap-up" meeting.

Thanks for your prayers and support.

Monday, February 16, 2009

February 2009 NY/HELP Mission Trip

This morning (Monday, February 16, 2009) 14 volunteers left for Honduras for a two-week mission trip. They have an ambitious schedule they hope to work on while there. That includes: 1- working on the construction of the 5th (and last) class for the middle school, which will serve as laboratories and painting and packaging of management and library; 2- supporting construction of 4 roofs, 10 Lorena stoves, 6 latrines and 5 floors in four different communities; 3- The doctors may run a mobile clinic in one of two outlying communities while others in the group do other work in that community. There will also be the traditional soccer tournament in one of the communities.