Sunday, January 10, 2010

MISSION UPDATE -- January 2010

The three projects of the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation serve a population of about 10,000 people, considering the outreach to the village of Guaimaca through the clinic, the school and the farm.

The Clinic: People come for medical care, sometimes walking several hours from the mountain villages. A good number of lay volunteers have sent medicines or have come to collaborate. After some time, entities such as the Catholic Medical Mission Board and the Order of Malta have sponsored specialized personnel. Two sisters and trained people from the community provide the necessary services. The clinic assists approximately 40 patients a day who come from distant areas seeking help. Children are supported by a soy formula that helps them gain weight. For a requested donation of $1.50 people receive a consult and all the medications prescribed. For many, this is the only health care they can afford.

The clinic receives about four medical teams from the United States each year. These teams bring specialists such as dentists, obstetricians, and gastroenterologists to the area. In November 2009 we started having the services of several Honduran dentists once or twice monthly. Also, dental students from the Catholic University of Honduras have come to give a much needed service to the poor.

The Boarding School: The school offers the possibility of education beyond the primary grades to young village women and to hopefully break the cycle of children having children. A building was built in parish property to accommodate the young girls from the villages interested in continuing their education.

The Marie Poussepin Center received the first girls in 2005 to offer not only room and board, but also formation in Christian values, catechesis, training in computers, sewing, cooking, organic agriculture and English. The first two years the girls attended the City’s Secondary School. However, given the difficulties with education in the country and to assure the adequate and continuous development of the education programs the Center now offers all the aspects of education. As of the beginning of 2007 the Center is linked up with the “Maestro en Casa” (“teacher at home”) program based in Tegucigalpa. Sixty two girls study at the Center and in 2008 we had our first graduating class. One graduate has been working at CMP as a teacher. We are planning on having 70 students for the school year 2010.

The young women, whose ages range from 12 to 20 years old, receive education during the week and return to their homes during the weekend. Most of them travel long distances in foot, buses or trucks. It is not uncommon to start at 3:00 AM to be able to be at the CMP by 9:00 AM. However, it is important that they keep in touch with their communities where they will become leaders.

In October 2009, the ten graduates at the CMP had the opportunity of attending a month long training at the National Agriculture University and received a certificate in agriculture. The National Agriculture University also offered our graduates scholarships. This opportunity allows them to study at the University with room and board to complete their Bachelors. On January 10, 2010 eight of the CMP graduates will start their university studies at the National Agriculture University in Catacamas, Honduras.

The Farm: Nazareth Farm has an extension of 227 acres. Great part of the farm is a pine forest and about 22 acres are agricultural lands. Two green houses have been built to grow the seeds for many area farmers. This gives work to several women who have learned the necessary technology and bring income to cover the weekly salaries of most farm employees. An irrigation system has been installed to make it possible to cultivate during the dry seasons. During the past three years thousand of pounds of tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and plantains were harvested and sold to national and international distributors. There have also been small crops of beans and corn and an abundance of mangoes, limes and oranges.

The farm has already provided work to many people of the area, especially to young men who, since they started working in the farm, have continued their school education. It has also offered possibilities for agriculture and ecology students to learn the appropriate technologies for agricultural production. The students at the Marie Poussepin Center go to the farm with their teachers for science lab work, as well as to assist in the care of the plantations and in the harvesting, to relax and to pray in the beautiful woods. They also enjoy the farm fresh fruits and vegetables in their meals. Starting in February 2010 the students will have all their science classes and labs at the farm.

The farm has been 100% organic and now it is in the process of being certified as organic by Biolatina, an international organization based in Lima, Peru. We produce our own organic compost and bio-compost and it is already being used not only at Nazareth Farm, but also by other organic farms. The farm produces the only organic vegetables in Honduras.