Category Archives: Honduras 2013

OYE work at San Jose Elementary

After two weeks in Copan Ruinas, a beautiful and important historical and cultural site in Western Honduras, at a La Guacamaya Spanish School, the group dedicated a week of their program to volunteer with OYE and learn about youth development efforts and national reality with OYE (Organization for Youth Empowerment).
The EMU students spent the week designing a recycling and environmental campaign at San Jose Elementary. The school, located only one block away from OYE’s office, welcomed OYE’s scholars and the international volunteers to supplement a program they had already started with the sixth graders around recycling. The established program involved the recycling of cans, bottles, plastic, paper, cardboard, and electronics. According to teachers the students were very involved in the endeavor and loved the hands on action of gathering and sorting the recyclable products.  There was definitely enthusiasm, and the economic incentive of receiving cash for the recycled products ensured the youth’s participation; however, the teachers highlighted a lack of understanding about why recycling was important and how waste can effect the natural world. That’s where OYE came into play…
We put the challenge in the hands of the EMU students, many of whom are education majors, to design a campaign that would engage the young students and building their knowledge and interest in recycling and the environment.
The campaign involved:
1. The creation of an environmental mural.
2. The creation and distribution of recycling receptacles that  feature smaller murals and themes about recycling
3. Development of games and exercises to teach about sustainability and environmental degradation.
4. Writing and illustrating a unique and relatable children’s story focused on recycling.
5. Hosting an environmental assembly and workshop with the sixth graders.
Over 60 sixth graders turned out for the event, many coming to school early that day just to see what was going on. We divided the youth into six stations. Station one read the children’s story, station two played a recycling trivia game with facts about recycling and the environment in Honduras, station three played environmental memory cards, station four played a timeline game about the life of a plastic bottle, station five was FACE PAINTING, and station six played a “Who am I” game with prompts like “greenhouse gas.” Every 15 minutes the students changed stations until everyone had cycled through each activity.
We were lucky to have the local television station, Teleprogreso, join us at the event. It was a great chance for the community to see and meet that big group of gringos walking around all week and learn a little bit more about OYE. Thanks to the report on the nightly news EMU and OYE’s message about the importance of recycling and the environment will arrive to a much larger audience.

Working with the MAMA Project

June 3, 2013

Starting our first day with the MAMA project was exciting. Anticipation was in the air as we woke up early, packed our lunches, and loaded the vans to go. The hour and a half van ride was up tiny dirt roads into the mountains. A memory from Adam: “Oh yeah Jason, by the way, I don’t know if something got lost in translation or what, but I think I accidentally told Enrique that I have 5 kids and they are very expensive.” Hahaha, I don’t know if Enrique ever even knew the truth.

Rachel shadowing the doctor from MAMA Anyways, we reached our destination and unloaded the big truck of supplies. The men really know how to functionally pack a van with tons of items. We were setting up at a school – so you know that means children. Immediately they were my friends and while everyone was setting up, I learned their names, ages, things they liked, and a few songs. I also got them to ask me some questions and guess a few things about me. This quickly backfired when they guessed I was 30 years old.

It was time for the center to be open and a line/more like mob of people quickly formed. We had a check-in station where people got weighed and measured, a vitals sign station, hemoglobin station, deworming and vitamin A, vitamin distribution, dentist station (basically they point at a tooth, we pull it out), and the donation station. This was only one part of the space. The other classroom housed the doctor and the pharmacy. There was also a crew on cement work that built two floors for two families.

I was at the donation station where I had three suitcases of donatedCounting out medicine for the upcoming week of brigades clothing and shoes. This was the last stop in the line and each person was allowed to get one item. It was fun giving the little girls princess shirts, and the old men pants, and the women skirts, and the babies onesies. But my favorite part was giving people shoes. People would come in with either no shoes or not functioning shoes – mainly little kids. I would dig through the suitcases and find them a pair, put them on their feet and just watch them smile so big. It was honestly so rewarding and amazing and I loved getting kisses on the cheek for putting shoes on feet. The sad part of this is that we don’t always have clothes for the exact people that stop by. We needed way more clothes for 8 to 14 year old girls than what we had. I couldn’t help but think of the bins and tubs of that exact size clothing I used to wear, just sitting in my house. I wanted so badly to give everyone everything they needed – but we know this is impossible. An awesome part of this is that I had formed relationships with the kids outside, and then they saw me again at the station and I was able to give them something.

Then we took a 15 to 20 minute lunch break. Apparently not as many people came as expected (due to the rainy season) so my station circle was done for the day, which means I played with kids all afternoon! It started off with really fun games and songs and lots of giggles. “Alisa! Alisa! Alisa!” was all I ever heard. It was so rewarding – and even more so ensuring that becoming a teacher is what I was meant to do.
All of a sudden, the sky darkened and the lighting cracked and the clouds open. Downpour might be a bit of an understatement. I think the water pipes of Heaven broke or something cause it was a torrential rain storm/pour/waterfall from the sky. All of the kids shrieked and giggles and we huddled under a canopy and played hand clapping games. Then we made a run for it to the classrooms. Ahh, so fun.

It was warmer and dryer inside but it was boring. So we all started playing with kids. I met Gavin who is 20 like me, and we talked for a while – it is SO GREAT to hold Spanish conversations. His little sister Abi, who is 5, became my friend and we played all afternoon. When it was time for her and her family to leave, I walked with her to the gate of the school. “Vamos a mi casa!” (Lets go to my house) she said. When I explained that I couldn’t, she crossed her arms, stomped her foot, pushed out her lip, and huffed. (It was like looking at myself). All of a sudden tears welled in her eyes and she just jumped into my arms and gave me the tightest hug from such a little body. I know that I will probably never see her again, and that hurts. But the memories made this afternoon were so great.

We cleaned up, packed up, and rode home. We ate a great dinner WITH MASHED POTATOES and then had a great group debriefing meeting. We made a list of every person we remembered/felt was important/played an important role in our journey thus far. Sadly, the majority of our important people were animals….Patrick the street dog that followed us everywhere, J-LO the parrot that ate Eric’s button, etc. etc. We did include real humans though. It was just a great way to connect the separate weeks of the trip, to realize the importance of relationships and people, and to prepare for heading home.

Honduras observations
1. Doctor lingo in Honduras for bodily functions is literally peepee and poopoo
2. We have traveled 26.7 hours in a van/bus in the past week
3. A nice young man told me I was “hermosa”. Look it up.
4. It’s muddy and rainy season; should be monsoon season.

Laugh and live fearlessly,

A sad day: preparing to say goodbye

Today marks 29 days left. Less than a month in Honduras and less than 3 days left in Copan. What?

It’s hard – and you can tell the group is feeling it too. We are just simply missing home. The realization of the actual length of 6 weeks has hit and it’s starting to cause frustration,  sadness, and withdrawal.  I think it’ll all be fine, actually I know it will. But for now, “when your lost and alone, and your sinking like a stone, carry onnnnnn.” Is our theme song.

Today was a relaxing day with a morning spent at the pool and an afternoon at school. I spent a portion of my morning playing school with Christal.  Oh, we also tango like my dad and I used to. She was giggling just as much as I was. Now, she comes up to me all the time and says, “Quiero bailar! Quiero bailar!” (I want to dance! I want to dance!). So we tango and she giggles and I giggle, and we dance and we simply enjoy life – the way everyone should.

Someone once said that children know how to switch back and forth between reality and imagination, something adults have forgotten how to do. I have reentered that childlike place, I have found the me I remember from 12 years ago. Just thinking about leaving her in a few days makes me want to cry, I love her so much.

Scratch that. I am crying. Bawling like a baby in fact. I keep replaying in my mind all of our playtimes and giggles, her screaming my name at my bedroom door, her knocking and then hiding, her hilarious “you don’t make sense face”, and her 4 year old self singing into a watering can like a microphone. She is such a great little person.

Last night I heard her mom talking to someone else and she said, “whenever Alisa is here, Christal is smiling and happy.”

As much as I wanna go home, I don’t.

Tonight, our group watched a spanish movie at the school called “Sin Nombre” or “Without a Name”. Not necessarily a kid friendly film, but it truly enlightened us and put an image to the book we studied before we left for Honduras, “Enrique’s Journey”. Totally check it out for a great idea of the level of poverty, tragedy, and desperation in Honduras that is almost inescapable.

It’s been a slightly sad day as I realize my longest visit is coming to an end – and the movie wasn’t a happy one either. I have mixed feelings right about now and I don’t really know where to continue.

Honduras observations
1. Connections mean more than words can express
2. Kids have a way of finding your heart and staying there

Laugh and live fearlessly,
-Alyssa Cable

Mother’s Day in Honduras

Honduras 2013-3Mother’s day is a big deal in Honduras.  The shops are decorated and I woke up to greetings and giggles as family members dropped in to say “felicidades!” to my abuela and give her presents. I then attended my first Spanish church service celebrating mom’s everywhere!

I.understood.every.word. MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT.

It was all about the mothers of the bible, raising their children in the Lord and being faithful to Him all of their days. It was a very powerful and moving experience as I realized the treasure that moms are, and how big of a deal it is here. In class one day, Nelly and I were comparing the US to Honduras. Many girls here get pregnant as young as 12 and its very common for the boys to disappear, leaving themnto be single moms. The rest of their life is a dedication to their children. I love how appreciated they are here, especially on their special day.

After church, all of the men cooked a meal for the women. We ate and then headed home. I got to skype the familia at home and they passed me around the dinner table, conversing with me one by one. LOVE THEM.

Here is the best part! We loaded vans and headed for AguasCalientes, hot springs, about an hour into the mountains. Here, the water is naturally a hot spring, that they almost made it a sort of spa. You have to cross a rickety bridge (like one from Shrek. I kept thinking of donkey, “don’t look down, don’t look down, I’M LOOKING DOWWWN!”) And they ask that you mentally leave your problems behind and enter a place of tranquility. To this, I say heck yes.

After crossing a bridge, you go through a stone tunnel and come up into the forest with steps leading to multiple places. The water running near you gives off steam and the entire atmosphere feels like those sound cds people buy to sleep easier. There is a waterfall with 5 levels of pools, each one hotter than the next. There is a mud pool where you can cover yourself with mud. There are cool pools of cool water, a foot , massage pool filled with rocks, and a waterfall that pounds so hard,  it massages you. It was a beautiful place full of tranquility. I never want to forget that feeling. I didnt want to take pictures because I didnt want to hurt my camera, but I also think that the pictures wouldnt do it justice. Beautiful. God’s handiwork.

After a long bus ride of out of tune country songs, we all went out for pizza, at Copan Pizza. Afterwards, we went all touristy and went shopping. It was a beautiful sunday.

Honduras observations
1. Mother’s day is a big deal with a weekend celebration filled with parades, flowers, parties, special church services, and a mariachi band.
2. They sing menno hymns at church – in spanish of course.
3. There are no song books, everyone just knows all of the words. A few select people have a book.
4. At church, there is lots of amens, children talking and running around, and singing.
5. There are no bulletins.
6. It is weird that I am 20 and don’t have children yet. Atleast, thats what they say when they ask and find I have none.
7. It is not unusual for a woman to whip out a boob and breastfeed in public.
8. Soda comes in 3 liters.
9. I haven’t seen any Hondurans with tattoos or nose piercings.

-Alyssa Cable