Sustainable Housing Project

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Changing directions

Like a huge train, it takes us a while to get slowed down enough to begin traveling in a new direction. Angie and I are in a transition period of shifting into new areas of ministry once again. We believe that God is giving us the desires of our hearts.

Larry’s classwork increases our ministry opportunities in Honduras. During spring semester, Larry did three individual studies classes towards his PhD degree from The Ohio State University. Each of the studies have been intertwined with our ministry outreach, enabling us to be more purposeful in the opportunities we have to share the Gospel.

We have been developing a Community Health Workers (Promotoras) program. It’s a new name for a familiar concept that we have been trying to implement for the last several years. One of the main new differences is that we were able to obtain funding to operate the program for six months. Pray for future funding for this project. When the foundation representative was made aware of what had been accomplished, they responded that if we could do that much with this size of a grant, imagine how much more could be accomplished with a larger grant. Eleven health workers are being led by Pati Rodriguez, the regional health promoter, and together they are reaching 244 families in three different communities. I wish we could tell you all the uplifting stories we have heard as a result. Most of our community health workers have never had six months of steady income before. One of our health workers purchased enough fish on a last trip to the island to feed a meal to all 20 of her outreach families.

Our team continues to be involved teaching community health education (CHE) and vocational/extension agriculture. Our CHE program is essentially a discipleship/multiplication model that uses participatory learning methods to prepare interested church members to go out into the community and teach others.

On the vocational/extension agriculture side, we are in the process of setting up a very small scale model agriculture project at the vocational school. So far, we have a couple of goats, chickens, a garden, compost production, and a small worm farm. The model serves several purposes.

1. Even though we do not yet have a formal vocational agriculture program started, we are using the small farm model to stimulate interest among all of our students. We charge a very small fee for students to attend the vocational school but many are not able to pay. When students are not able to pay the monthly fee, we give them an opportunity for a work scholarship where we waive the monthly fees, but we require them to work on the agriculture project. In the future, we hope to offer something similar to 4-H for our students where we can help them set up projects in their homes. This will also give us an opportunity to get into the communities where our students come from.

2. We want to have an extension model so that we can also bring people in to see what can really be done on a very small area. Many of the people in the rural areas find seasonal work in the large agricultural production areas such as sugar cane, cantaloupe and watermelon, and shrimp farming. They are often without work during the months of June-December. Most of these workers have access to small parcels of land for agricultural use, but have no idea how to grow food for themselves or do not have access to the needed resource for starting small agriculture projects.

3. The farm model serves as a type of experimental station where we try out our ideas before we promote them outside the school. It is a harsh environment here and we want to make sure that anything we teach is able to be duplicated in actual community situations. We have established several small aquaponics projects in a couple of villages, but I am having to go back and train extension workers to be able to work closer with them. We hope to build a large aquaponics project at the vocational school. We have over 120 students (15-30 years old), but they do not live on the school property.

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