Wednesday
Jan142015

President's Corner 

by Bruce Flohr

TWM got an early Christmas present this year when the first water well under our new Rotary-World Vision Project was successfully completed in early November in the community of Rio Azul. The new well is delivering 25 gallons per minute, more than twice what was needed to support the plans for water distribution and sanitation/latrines, thanks be to God! Our Maestras (Teachers) also completed the 6-day community Health & Hygiene training with excellent results, instruct-ing the community in how to keep the water from the well clean, along with basic hygiene for families and homes and nutrition classes. But before we concentrate too much on the current results, let’s go back and share key information about this project that was over 4 years in the making.

ROTARY INTERNATIONAL
GLOBAL GRANT & WORLD VISION PARTNERSHIP
The funding for the Rotary/World Vision Partnership started over 4 years ago when representatives from World Vision-Honduras approached TWM about the possibility of a jointly-funded project. Members of Rotary International were represented on both sides. The success in raising the funds for the 23 wells plus the accompanying sanitation/latrines component came from a combination of the Rotarians, their Clubs, and the District Governors of District (San Antonio as the major city) and District 5020 (Western Washington and Victoria Island, BC). District 5020 was one of only a few districts selected by The Rotary Foundation to test new grant application and funding initiatives during that period. The 2 Districts raised one-fourth of the total amount, which The Rotary Foundation matched. World Vision then matched the total amount raised by Rotary, resulting in a $550,000 project! Having an outside party not affiliated with Rotary matching the funds from Rotary was very unusual, and a key part of why The Rotary Foundation was reworking its grant process. Honduras is one of the first areas to benefit from these changes.

NEW PROJECT IS BORN
When all of the meetings and negotiations were finally settled, TWM was selected as the “Contract Driller” for the Project of 23 new water wells in the district of El Paraiso, Honduras, with 50% of the funds coming from Rotary and 50% coming from World Vision-United States. Interest-ingly, despite World Vision’s great success in humanitarian projects all over the world since 1950 and yearly revenue of over $1B (yes, billion) they did not have a “water component” for their ministry in Honduras until now with Texas Water Mission. One of the important attractions for World Vision about TWM is how well our Health & Hygiene community training fit with the Health initiative of World Vision. World Vi-sion’s approach to assisting a country is to organize and empower leaders in a poor community with an Area Development Program (ADP) promoting sustainable development with the following areas of focus: 1) medical/health; 2) education; 3) agriculture; 4) micro-finance and now in Honduras, 5) pure water.

WIN, WIN, WIN
The participating Rotary Clubs from the U. S. were very pleased that TWM had done several water wells in Honduras from 2006-2008 under a previous Global Grant with the Danli, Honduras Rotary Club as the local partner and “verifier” for Rotary International under those grants. Under the new Global Grant, the Danli Rotary Club will once again provide monitoring of the use of funds and confirmation of the completion and functioning of each well. World Vision-Honduras will add the critical components of pure water and sanitation/latrines to their sustainable development of the micro region of San Matias and El Paraiso, resulting in improved health for the families of this area. And, because TWM will be using our Honduran: 1) drilling team; 2) Maestras for teaching the Health & Hygiene classes; and 3) our Honduran Well Maintenance team for monitoring and repairing wells during the first 5 years after a new well is successfully drilled, we are providing more income and work opportunities for our Honduran Team and putting more money into the economy of Honduras.

None of this would have been possible without the wonderful TWM volunteers whose dedication over the past 12 years made it possible for us to be ready for this opportunity. We thank God for them and for this wonderful Christmas present which we hope will continue to bring joy to our wonderful Mission and the people of Honduras for many years to come.

Wednesday
Jan142015

Pilgrimage: The Beauty of Roads Traveled Before

by Pamela Haines

Today is Sunday, the 4th day of our pilgrimage, our TWM Mission Trip. First on the agenda, church services at San Miguel de Archangel in Ojo de Agua where all our Honduran Directors, Marlene Barahona (Health & Hygiene), Hector Zuniga (Pump Repair) and Francisco Torres (Drilling and Maintenance), reside.

The people who belong to this church are kind, gracious and al-ways welcoming - they are my friends, so many cheeks to kiss! In my fifty-plus trips to Honduras in the last 12 years I have always felt that this was my home. The music with guitars and full voices is beautiful in a boisterous though ethereal way. It draws you in and makes you feel surrounded by a happy cocoon.

The Presider is Reverendo Dagoberto, Dean of this area and also a farmer. He is a true pastoral padre. In the beginning of his ministry, he traveled by mule across rivers to his many churches each Sun-day. He greets me with a smile and warm hug. Today his Homily speaks to me and helps me sort out a problem I am having.

Marlene, my Goddaughter, and the Directora for our Health & Hygiene program, is the lay Pastora. She handles all the dailyactivities of the church, whether it be organizing a “Happening” for the teens, or presiding over prayer meetings. After communion, healing prayers and individual birthday blessings, the Ameri-can Deacon Kathy exits with her very large white fluffy poodle by her side to end the services.

After a bathroom stop at the gas station (Puma), we head out to Valle de Angeles which is an artist colony in the mountains. The vistas are exceptionally beautiful. We stop for lunch at a won-derful restaurant which caters to upper middle class Hondurans. Families eat at extra-long tables and there are great amenities for their children. There are no other “gringos.” In the center of town is a Catholic Church, surrounded by many shops selling items from Guatemala and Honduras, which allowed the shopa-holic gentlemen of the group to get their fix. The narrow streets give one the feeling of old world charm. Wonderful smells waft from grills and food booths which look like those at state fairs. We finish our day late that evening in Zamarano tired and happy and plan for the rest of the trip.

Wednesday
Jan142015

The Lessons of San Lorenzo

by Jackson Gillette

Yesterday, Saturday, was another meaningful day for our group’s work here in Honduras. We started out the morning being led in devotion by Marty, who reminded each of us to enjoy getting out of our comfort zone and the subsequent growth that comes from submitting ourselves to new experiences.

With Marty’s words in mind and full stomachs we made our way on the two-hour trek to the farming village of San Lorenzo. The entire drive is a continuous scene of green mountainside, deep valleys, and farmland. As we got closer to the village of San Lorenzo, the road, filled with potholes, sharp turns and wallowed out stretches, became treacherous, especially for our mini bus. It took quite a while to travel not very far. But, we made it safe and sound to our destination to find a majestic stretch of God’s earth with views that command several seconds to stop and take it all in.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the local Missionary, Jeannie Loving. She took us up to the village’s new school and cafeteria for a briefing as to the state of affairs of San Lorenzo. Then it was time for us to take a tour of the village via an Ox-cart. On our ride Jeannie showed us the way of life around the town. After seeing several other villages over the past two days, we ere able to gain a deeper understanding of the day-to-day life of our Honduran friends. We saw their homes, their stoves, their clothes washing systems (Pilas) to list a few.

Next we began investigating the state of affairs of San Loren-zo’s water systems. There is a local spring where water is being pumped through plumbing lines to each of the 39 houses in the community, twice a week. This water is full of parasites and other illness-bearing bacteria in literally off the chart quantities. There is a well that has stopped working reliably and at the moment the spring is the only source of meaningful water for the village.

Our next step, after stopping to eat our lunch, was to begin to introduce the water filtration system we have brought from the states to the community. Jeannie has arranged for the mothers who cook at the village’s school cafeteria to be the first to learn how to use the system. David, Allen and Marlene began to demonstrate while Jeannie translated. During class several of the rest of our group members tried to keep the children occupied with several rounds of soccer shootouts, so their mothers could pay full attention to the demonstration.

At the end of the demonstration it was time for our group to make our way back to home base, at Zamorano University. There were a few pizza pies waiting for us. We made our way back discussing all that we had witnessed and all that we could do for the rest of our time to help make a difference in the lives of our new friends (and old friends to some of our group). We have a tailwind at our backs learning from the members of our group who have been to San Lorenzo before. Each expressed with amazement the change in the health of the community. It is a miracle to see what a deep, sustained relationship through the direction and blessing of God in each person’s efforts has brought to people of San Lorenzo. And it is an even deeper blessing to see what great stewards the village of San Lorenzo is of the continued assistance and teaching. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support!

Tuesday
Dec112012

Partnerships - How They Grow: Bruce Flohr

Over the last 10 years, our water ministry has enjoyed many different partnerships.  Some of these partnerships began with a simple need, but have grown into a long-term relationship.  This is one of those “Partnership stories.”

When our Honduras Water Ministry, the founding arm of Texas Water Mission, began its water well drilling activity in Honduras in late 2002, we were able to drill our first few wells without any real complications.  Challenges….YES, but Complications….NO. Then, suddenly we were unable to obtain the permits necessary to drill any more wells.  What were we to do?  We needed a new partner in Honduras to help us.  One of our leaders, Jack McGuire, was a member of the San Antonio Downtown Rotary Club (properly identified as Rotary International).  Jack found that there was a Rotary Club in Danli, Honduras.  The Danli Club was in the middle of the area where we wanted to drill our next wells.  As part of one’s obligation to remain a Rotarian, each of us (I am a Rotarian too) commits to attend at least 50% of the weekly meetings of your Rotary Club.  If a Rotarian cannot attend the “home” Club, we are encouraged to “make up” the missed meeting by attending the meeting of another Rotary Club.   This action is so completely ingrained in the Rotary culture that every Club has a section of their meeting which includes “Introduction of Visiting Rotarians.”   Jack saw this “visit” concept as a perfect way to attend the Danli Rotary Club meeting, and meet its members and Jack was welcomed by the Danli Rotary Club.  Through that “partnership” we began to get the help we needed with drilling permits we needed approved.

Soon, the Danli Rotary Club became a “partner” in another manner.    In Rotary, all members are encouraged to donate money to The Rotary Foundation.   These donations are invested by The Foundation and after 3 years, half of the funds are sent back to their donor District to be used as the District seeks to fulfill local “needs.”    Here again, in cooperation with the Danli Rotary Club, more funding flowed to Texas Water Mission to drill pure water wells in the Danli area.   Yes, the partnership was growing into something more than just obtaining drilling permits.  In fact, 15 of TWM’s 58 total wells have been drilled with the Danli Rotary Club as our local partner.

There is even more to be told about this partnership, as it continues to evolve.   With the Drill Team trip to Honduras on Oct 4-14, 2012, the accompanying Visit Team actually hosted a luncheon with members of the Danli Rotary Club on October 6.   Yes, the Partnership between Texas Water Mission and the Danli Rotary Club continues to grow, all for the benefits coming from more pure water in the Danli area of Honduras.    It should be noted that 5 current members of the Texas Water Mission Board are members of Rotary International, including our Executive Director Maria Valdez and myself. 

Tuesday
Dec112012

Moving Toward Self-Sufficiency: Monica Maher

My eagerness for the October mission trip was overwhelming.   Most of the missionaries had been several times before and confidently spoke about the trip like a routine, but I still did not know what to expect.  After weeks of trip planning and research I could finally go see what the ministry was all about.  I had the chance to get to know our Honduran teammates and to meet some of the people who benefit from the ministry. 

I had braced myself for several of the culture shocks associated with Honduras.  I remained calm as we landed on the short runway, drove on washed out mountain roads, and passed by several police and military checkpoints.  I didn’t get sick from the food or mosquito bites.  My Spanish was good enough that I understood what was going on and I could make Honduran friends.  The things I expected to struggle with turned out fine.

The biggest shock for me was a pleasant surprise.  On a few occasions, I met people with an encouraging attitude of hope for self-reliance.  I met a few community leaders who are aware of the many struggles faced by impoverished Honduras.  They do not simply wish for hand out or for a small project that would provide a little bit of comfort.  They strive for a nation that can help itself, for sustainable projects that are supported by Hondurans.  They have a vision of a self-sufficient Honduras. 

Honduras is past the point of needing short term relief aid.  Some Hondurans are stepping up and taking responsibility for the destiny of their country and leading efforts to help those in need.  They want to work with aid organizations to develop sustainable projects that are eventually lead and grown by Hondurans.  This gives me new, unexpected sense of optimism for these developing communities. 

My first encounter with this mindset was with our TWM Honduran teammates.  The day before the H&H class began, we had a meeting with the three H&H directors Marlene, Mayra and Karol.  After an overview of how the lessons would be taught, we moved on to training the directors about handling the expenses for a class.  Their commitment and willingness to take on new responsibilities is helping to make TWM a sustainable and growing effort in Honduras.  They learned how to write receipts for paying the teachers and for expensing teaching supplies and transportation costs.  We went through the budget of a typical class and discussed what expenses could be cut or reduced.  It was great to see their interest in taking charge of the program and ensuring its future success. 

Later in the trip, I went out with the site-selection team to check potential places for future wells.  We were lead by a Dean of the Honduran diocese, Reverenda Maria Consuela.  She had countless stories of the problems found among the poor both in rural communities and in Tegucigalpa.  But she also had several examples of programs that were successful in helping these people in need.  International aid is making a difference for many underprivileged people and the most successful efforts are carried out by Honduran relief workers.  She gave us a button from her purse that read “Welcome to the new Honduras.  Self-sufficient 2019” and explained the goal of developing current and future aid efforts to eventually be run by Hondurans. 

Our last stop on the site-selection expedition was to a community that made an extra effort to remind us of their application for a well.  As we walked around the plot of land we noticed the adjacent property had two modest buildings that appeared to be set up for some small scale agricultural industry.  We took this as a good sign that the community has at least some economic endeavors even if they are currently lacking a water source. 

A man approached us and asked if we were there about the water well.  He introduced himself as a community leader and expressed his excitement for the possibility of getting a well.  He described the community and the need for water.  Then he astonished us by asking how much the community should pay for the well.  He suggested that the villagers could build a driveway for our equipment before we come to drill and asked what else we would want help with.  Sure, he could find volunteers to help with manual labor for setting up the wellsite and digging mud pits.  He wanted the villagers to invest in the project and to be involved from the beginning so they can take ownership of their community and move towards self-sufficiency. 

In the coming years, Honduras can take huge leaps of progress with motivated patriotic leaders like these.  The goal of self-sufficiency is a promising indication of the future.