- President: Doris Jovel
- Vice President: Ramon Andino
- Secretary: Zenia Funez
- Treasurer: Antonio Funez
- Fiscal: Lourdes Ponce
- Vocal Lecturer: Durkis Acosta
- Youth Vocal: Alex Ortiz
- Technical Vocal: Ingrid Funez
- Communications Vocal: Jorge Alvarenga
The special education program started off with 15 children in 2011. These children are from the following communities: Urraco, Toncontin, Yaruca, Los Limpios, El Pital, La Lucinda, Las Mangas and El Naranjo. However, two children have not been able to continue in the program. The first was Jenifer Molina, who after two evaluations done by the Emilia D’Cuire school, was found apt to attend traditional schools and was not allowed to continue in the program. The second, Esteban Solis, who has been in the project since 2009, was not allowed to continue in the program because the school does not allow parents to accompany the children during classes and his mother did not accept this rule. The school only allows parents to accompany their children to school if the child’s handicap calls for their company because they want to promote the child’s independence.
Currently, the children in the program are: Maylin Banegas and Maynor Méndez from El Pital. Elida Hernández and Carlos Fúnez from La Lucinda. Yerson Domínguez and Nelson Anchecta from Las Mangas. Dayana Acosta from El Naranjo. Zenia Madrigales and Guillermo Hernández from Toncontin. Orlin Arias and Lucas Pérez from Urraco. Mercy Maradiaga and Keidel Lemus from Yaruca. The children’s parents have been meeting the last Sunday of each month to plan, track and execute activities that contribute to the success of the program. The board of directors for the project for 2011 consists of the following individuals: Adalida Banegas- President, Relli Castro- Vice-President, Patricia Carcamo- Secretary, Lourdes Solis- Treasurer, and Francisca Carias- Fiscal.
Please join the entire Un Mundo gang for the VIVA UN MUNDO fundraiser in San Francisco on January 6, 2011!!
$20 suggested donation at the door which will support the organization Un Mundo and the local communities in rural areas of Honduras. Un Mundo’s mission is to promote dignity, community, and self-sufficiency while facilitating access to health care, education, and livable wages in marginalized communities.
For more information or to pre-purchase tickets visit our website at www.unmundo.org/vivaunmundo.
If you’re unable to make the event, WE STILL NEED YOUR SUPPORT!! Please help us continue our work by making a secure online donation at www.unmundo.org/vivaunmundo or checks can be sent to 250 Vincent Drive, Mountain View, CA, 94041.
JOIN US! VIVA UN MUNDO!
The first graduating class of Instituto Polivalente vocational high school in El Pital received bachelor’s degrees (high school diplomas) in computer technology 27 November 2010, applauded by a crowd of well-wish-ers. The 33 students from throughout the Cangrejal Valley were honored first with a Mass in the local Catholic church, than the graduation ceremony, and finally at various family parties. Graduates plan to work or attend university in La Ceiba. Un Mundo hired graduate Elias Dubon to work full-time as Project Coordinator, assisting with management of local Un Mundo projects.
I work with the knowledge that collaborating in a group setting is hardly ever a smooth process, free of conflict. Add to the mix cultural differences, uncharted territory for all of the people involved, and demanding personal lives, conflict is sure to rear its head. The women’s group in El Pital is no exception to this. As the women in the group become more involved and their one year plan is becoming solid, problems have begun to arise that I am at times unsure how to navigate. Some members of the group feel that they have carrying the bulk of the work load because others, as others in important roles have slowly but surely stopped attending meetings and sharing the responsibilities that come with being a part of a cooperative. To me this is normal, to be expected, the difficult part is working to get everyone back on the same page again. After lengthy conversations with many of the members, I have observed that a large part of the problem is cyclical. As members pull away from the group, tension arises and is openly spoken about throughout the women. This in turn makes the people who have been pulling away for various reasons feel judged and unsupported so they continue to be distant from the group.
To remedy this situation, I am going to facilitate and tried and true conflict resolution workshop meant to target the underlying tensions in groups, discuss the feelings openly, constructively find a solution as well as create a system for dealing with conflict in the future. The hope is that this will not only get everyone back on the same page but also teach useful skills in how to deal with problems that often come up in groups. To my great pleasure, most everyone in the women’s group is extremely open to having this workshop and breed acceptance as well forgiveness. In October I need to go back to the States for a couple of months and these new skills will become more important without a mediator present. This morning I had a conversation with the President about my leaving for a couple of months and she was more than supportive and helpful. It was reassuring to hear that spark of passion and motivation from her. This group of women and friends never ceases to teach and inspire me.
The summer of 2010 has come faster than anticipated. Over the last 2 weeks, our staff and volunteers have multiplied and gone from 5 to over 20. It has been both exciting and stressful having all of these new faces mixing around El Pital and the Cuenca. Working to find home stays for everyone and getting people settled has also been a challenge and rewarding. The chance of getting to meet families in other communities has been an amazing experience, not to mention letting the new volunteers experience the people of this unique region of the planet.
One of the best things about this experience is getting a chance to meet new people from all over the world. Ben brought in artists from several countries in Latin America, the US and Honduras for the upcoming ARTE_RIO festival in about 2 weeks. The work shops have been going on for about a week and the build up for the festival is mounting. Next our special education team from UNC (whoop whoop!) came in and has already started evaluating and identifying communities in and around El Pital. With all of the new faces staying with families in El Pital, people have joked that there are more Gringos than Catrachos
As we move through the busiest time of the year it’s easy to get caught up in the wave of activity and forget to step back and appreciate the people and area in which we live. Not seeing my host family as much due to my schedule has certainly taken a toll and I have been victim of only seeing deadlines and arrival dates instead of names and faces. While it is really exciting to have all of these new volunteers here working hard on their respective projects, I sometimes catch myself missing the slower pace of Latin America and being less concerned about the date and where my next meeting is. But than again, I was thinking the opposite 2 weeks ago.
So the time has finally come. After working on the Arte_Rio project for months, the artists arrived and the workshops are now in full swing. After all the planning, anticipation and set-backs we had, it feels kind of strange now to see the festival coming alive and going its own way. It is a bit like fostering a bird just to let it fly on its own one day. The two weeks before the artists joined us were pretty intense. Changing schedules and plans made it a difficult task to place them in the right communities, schools and home stays. But now that everyone is settled, I can start to see the fruits of our labor on this project, and it makes me proud and happy to witness the students having fun in the workshops and approaching education in a way different most of them never did before. With the festival advancing, my excitement about the final event of ARTE_RIO grows proportionally. However, the fact that the end of the festival also represents the end of my engagement with Un Mundo leaves me with mixed emotions. Having to deal with arrangements for my post-El Pital time while being on the climax of my work here is sort of surreal and I did not really realize quite yet that I might not return to this beautiful place ever again, or at least not for years to come. Thinking about this, I am trying to enjoy every second of my remaining time here, soaking in the amazing natural environment as well as spending as much time as possible with my people here and trying to accomplish all those things one keeps postponing, but which are still on my “wish to-do” list in and around the “Cuenca”.
All in all, I have very mixed feelings about leaving. Not being ready to depart, but looking forward to new challenges, finding some time to reflect on my experiences and last but not least, seeing my family and friends in Germany/Holland again after being separated from them for more than a year. But before that, I will do my best to help making ARTE_RIO a huge success to enable cultural development in the Cangrejal Valley for years to come. Maybe I can then come back one day to find a place with more pride and identity, as this is what this wonderful place and its people deserve.
Greetings followers of the Un Mundo blog! My name is Anna Blankenberger and I will be joining the Un Mundo team over the summer working on a comprehensive midwife assessment. I just finished my first year of a two year graduate program in Public Health at University of Illinois at Chicago. The primary reason I chose to conduct my practicum with a grassroots, community organization working with marginalized communities is to verify my belief that it is at the community/local level where the impetus for change truly begins. I am extremely excited about the opportunity to work with and learn from the staff/volunteers at Un Mundo, the local organizations as well as the community members in order to better prepare myself for a career in global health. In reference to my experience in la Cuenca Cangrejal, El Pital is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and maybe one of the most striking in which I will ever live. The campo is filled with peaceful sounds, from the steady running water from the river (El Rio Cangrejal)in our backyard to the various animal conversations between cows, pigs, roosters, chickens, dogs, cats, insects, and frogs. Time is of the essence here. No cell phone, no electricity, no major appliances to distract you, offers one the luxury of slowing down…everything. Days and evenings consist of chatting with neighbors, striding along the one dirt road in town and listening to the children scream “Hola, Anita!”, or playing lots of card games in candlelight to all hours of the evening (well, or at least until 8:00pm which is the normal bedtime in the Cuenca).
I will be moving out of my first home-stay, at la casa de Dona Tina, the only partera (midwife) in El Pital. Dona Argentina Robles, AKA Super Woman, had pretty magical powers not only in midwifery and traditional healing practices, but also in her strength as a woman. I don’t know if you have met a woman lately who has given birth to eleven of hertwelve children ALL BY HERSELF, but she is the first I have come across. Her strength is accentuated in that she has lost three of those children to preventive deaths (bronchitis, dengue, and violence). She spends the majority of her day cleaning, cooking, sending Kevin on errands and waiting for me to come home to shower me with mucho cariño (affection). We converse often about her role as a midwife and she explains the struggles she has been having lately in getting called upon to assist in births. “Pista is hard to come by these days,” she tells me. “There aren’t a lot of pregnant women in these areas anymore and it’s all due to that planifico (family planning) problem.” Other than housing volunteers (which is not that often) her other economic means consists of giving sobras, a traditional rubdown to community members when they are experiencing dolor de la cabeza (headaches), del estamogo (stomach issues) o de los huesos (achy bones). My brothers, Helmir and Kevin, are also a joy to come home to, demanding we start playing “Ks en la esquina, (Kings in the corner), UNO, or Pitty Parr (a local card game) the second I walk in the door. Helmir (15) spends most of his time looking in the mirror, writing his non-existent girlfriend love letters and singing English rock songs. “Canta (Sing) ROCK, Anita!” He has grand future plans of becoming a tour guide for the gringos, a bit different from I take Kevin sees for his future. Kevin’s a bit less social and more humble than Helmir, but certainly not lacking in strength, curiosity, and potential. Kevin doesn’t want people to know but Doña Tina is really his grandmother. His mother, who lives in Ceiba (the city an hour away) gave Kevin to Doña Tina when he was little and though she has a job in the city, she almost never visits nor sends money home. Doña Tina wakes Kevin up at 5:00am each morning to look for firewood, sweep the dirt floor and help get all the animals in order. He’s expected to do more chores and errands when school is called off, which is unfortunately, all too often. In fact, the average child in El Pital only had 100 days of school time in 2009 due to the lack of local teachers and compensation from the government. Truthfully, I think Kevin enjoys the break and prefers to be among his trees, his river and the rest of nature. Watching Kevin’s natural ability to maneuver his body among the rocks while swimming in el rio, and the way his body glides and becomes one with the water to watching him climb trees, hills and mountains faster than any monkey I have ever seen, he truly knows his tierra (land).
I left the house today after we all shared our last lunch of eggs, beans, cheese and tortillas. The next two weeks I will be quite mobile, staying with a couple families given I will be trekking to more remote areas in order to identify all remaining midwives. I will miss Doña Tina, Kevin and Helmir, but over dessert last night (I brought home a pineapple to share), I told them I’d be back to visit. There is only ONE main dirt road after all.
As I sit pondering what to write about, I am consumed with the view from my make-shift outdoors office. The Cangrejal River sprawls beneath me, winding its way through the mountainous jungle landscape to eventually pour out into the Caribbean. Being here in El Pital, far removed from the city of La Ceiba, at times I feel like I have been dropped into another world. Especially, of late we have had problems with thunderstorms and a loss of power. One minute we’ll be chugging along, working in the office and the next, no power. At my home at night, in the center of the community, I have experienced a type of darkness that is completely new to me without electricity. It’s a beautiful thing to sit and read by candlelight. Even in the midst of the problems with electricity and weather, I have never felt more a part of a community in my life. I feel like I took for granted many things in the States, one of those being neighbors. At home in the States, I barely ever spoke to my neighbors, maybe I knew their first names and said hello in passing. In this tiny community, set in this beautiful backdrop, I have come to know more about my neighbors and them about me than I have ever experienced before. My neighbors care for me, watch over my house, worry about me if I don’t feel well, and give me encouragement as I struggle with learning the language. I am invited to dinners, always offered coffee, a place to sit, and given the happenings of the day. These simple things have become the cornerstone of my happiness here. I love the feeling of having caring people around me that are always up for a chat and a laugh or kids that could not be more ecstatic that I want to play with them. While I continue to have questions about my role at Un Mundo, with the women’s group, and in El Pital. I find myself answering my questions with one answer; love. Love is pervasive in this community and within the tiny group of us at Un Mundo. This is an atmosphere of support, friendship, and respect which has been bred in El Pital and bleeds over into our everyday lives at the office. Without the love that we have for our community and them for us, I doubt that we would be here. I don’t think I will even realize how much this experience has changed me until I back home, sitting with my Dad and friends in Florida. Right now, I am learning that there many things a person can live without; electricity, showers, television, and washing machines, to name a few. However, the one thing that none of us can live without is love and this has been my greatest lesson learned thus far.