In 1989, NY/HELP Honduras began with strong support from churches in New York State. Twenty-five years later, NY/HELP is still going strong. In the clinic, Mirtila Garcia is our full-time nurse, providing year-round care to the people of the indigenous Mataderos tribe. And during the year, our part-time coordinator, Yovany Munguía, and “community organizer,” Jorge “Joel” Ramirez, worked on community projects with members of the 12 rural Indian villages. These included a concrete floor for one of the new primary schools and the scholarship program for middle school students (both boys and girls) who often cannot afford to continue their education. In doing this, they helped many community members to develop leadership skills. Yovany and Joel were also instrumental in planning projects for our two NY/HELP mission trips in 2014.
In May, NY/HELPers, led by David Makepeace of Honeoye UCC, labored alongside people living in communities down in the far valley to build latrines at several schools and a house for an elderly widow. They sponsored a soccer tournament, which was interrupted briefly by a bull who wanted to play as well. And in August, Dr Gordon Comstock of Arcade worked in the medical clinic, assisted by nurse-practitioner Ruth Shatzel of Buffalo (Ruth was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras many years ago). Since the clinic now has solar power, David Woodruff of Copenhagen, one of our NY/HELPers, spent time computerizing the pharmacy, assisted by a young woman from La Laguna. Judy Toner, from Salamanca, spearheaded a program to provide materials so communities could build kindergartens, and another to support the use of diapers in infants. Others in the August group taught a sewing class, or worked with three schools desiring school gardens. NY/HELP bought the wire for the fences (necessary to keep stray livestock out) and we worked together with parents and students at each school to prepare the gardens. This work has continued after we NY/HELPers returned to the States.
After our return, Yovany and Joel helped expand our reach by participating in a conference of non-profit organizations working in Honduras.
The planned January 2015 was abruptly cancelled by sudden illnesses in several family members. Many of the participants in that trip are planning to use their airline credit to go in June. But complicating our program, our coordinator Yovany suddenly left to look for another job. Fortunately, Joel stepped up to become our local coordinator, and Mirtila stayed as clinic nurse. With their help, NY/HELP has continued to provide scholarships to the middle school for 2015, and medicines for the clinic.
This work would not be possible without YOUR prayers and support. MUCHAS GRACIAS!
Gordon F Comstock, MD