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Feb 11, 2020

Vision and Nutrition: Caring for the Whole Child

Rain Water Collection, Library, and Vacation Bible School -- 2016

The First Presbyterian Church of Chili (New York) made our first trip to Honduras in 2016. Our mission was to build a rain water collecting system, build a library and provide a vacation bible school program for the children at the Good Shepard Bilingual School in Camasca Honduras. While we were there, God revealed a new need for our church to address. On this trip we learned that the area has virtually no vision care. We learned that kids drop out of school when they are unable to see the board or read their books. We learned that access to vision care was very limited.

Vision for Camasca -- 2018

This led to our second mission and the official “Vision for Camasca” project!   By God’s grace, our church returned to Honduras in 2018. Hundreds of patients lined up for vision screens and glasses! We connected with two separate organizations -- Shoulder to Shoulder and the Lion’s Club. We stood as a bridge between these two organizations with a hope and prayer that together something would grow.

From the beginning, the dream was to build a self-sustaining access to vision care.

Collaboration with Project HEAL -- Summer 2019

Over the summer of 2019, our church worked collaboratively with a student from Duke University’s Project HEAL team. Brian was completing college credits through a learning abroad opportunity between Shoulder to Shoulder and Duke University. He did a great job collecting data and helping to increase knowledge about the Lion’s Club in La Esperanza to the people of Camasca and surrounding areas. Brian confirmed a need for education and awareness around vision care and services.

It’s hard to put to words how this next project came about. But, imagine a whirl wind of emails, text messages, and spotty international conference calls where we shouted over the pounding rain of Honduras and redialed again and again when internet dropped the call. In this beautiful chaotic exchange, a new idea was developed --   to bridge a communication gap by providing a continuing education opportunity for Health Promotors throughout the region of Intibucá. Or, in other words, a FIELD TRIP!!

Field Trip – Fall 2019

Health promotors work within the community health centers providing regular presentations on health topics to the people throughout the seven town region of southern Intibucá. With lots a wonderful support from Shoulder to Shoulder, we were able to coordinate a continuing education field trip for health promoters to La Esperanza. This trip included eye exams for all, a tour of the Lion’s Club Clinic, and educational materials for them to use in their community presentations.   Word of mouth and first hand experiences are the best teaching opportunities. These health promotors will take their experience and new knowledge back their communities to share. This extends the reach of the vision mission well beyond what we could do on our own.     

Update from Minsis (Shoulder to Shoulder employee)

The event was attended by 22 promoters and 3 supervisors. Each of them was excited to have the opportunity to offer one more project to the communities they work with. Likewise, the members of the Lion’s Club were happy to make new alliances that would allow them to continue serving the communities of Intibucá.

We rented a bus, and arrived in La Esperanza. The Lion’s Club staff made known what they are doing in the five areas in which they work: sight, childhood cancer, hunger, diabetes, and the environment. They focused on their vision services. Health Promoters asked many questions about all the services. After that, all of the Health Promoters had an eye exam; five needed glasses. Plus, one needs eye surgery, and the Lion’s Club will make the necessary arrangements for that to happen. We ended the morning with a delicious lunch, and then back on the bus for the 2 hour trip back home.

Follow-up: I contacted the coordinators of the promoters to ask them about the project. I was told that everything is going well. In some communities, they have found up to 3 to 4 people who need eye services, and they were referred to the Lion’s Club.

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Dec 27, 2019

Making an Exceptional Impact!

Oneyda and Efrain (3rd and 5th from the left)
Oneyda and Efrain (3rd and 5th from the left)

What drives people to do things with dedication and passion? This is a question that has millions of answers because in this world everyone works towards individual goals; however, some goals bring people together in order to accomplish them. This is what happens in the Southern of Intibucá, Honduras. We are all working hard and with a dedication to accomplish one goal: to provide a STEM education in all the frontier!! We are working shoulder to shoulder to make it possible!!

While we work hard to get to meet our goals, it is important to recognize the effort and leadership role that people take in the process. This is what Shoulder to Shoulder and Learning Equality did this past week when six of our teachers were awarded for their outstanding leadership with CREE’s Kolibri project.

Elementary Teachers

Efrain and Oneyda are teachers at the elementary level. Coming from a very rural area, neither one of them had prior knowledge of how to use technology to teach their classes. Nevertheless, they have shown that everything is possible when people are motivated. The teachers worked many extra hours to map the Khan Academy lessons onto the official Honduran Curriculum. By the end of 2019, this school has become one of our models, not only for how they have been using the equipment but also their methodology to teach their little learners.

High School Teachers

A number of High School teachers have demonstrated their enthusiasm by unselfishly teaching other teachers the best strategies to deliver quality education to their students. Also, one of these leaders (Josias) had the initiative to enroll his students in the Physics Olympics. Three of his students made it to the national competition! In addition, Josias used Kolibri to prepare himself to take the national test to be the lab director at the High School. Guess what? He passed the exam!! 

These amazing testimonies motivate us to keep working hard. Each one of these teachers is making an outstanding and exceptional impact in the frontier community!

Meeting with Teacher Champions
Meeting with Teacher Champions
Josias, Physics Teacher
Josias, Physics Teacher

Links:

Nov 27, 2019

Water Filters Bring Smiles (and Improved Health)

Volunteer Lizzie Distributing Water Filters
Volunteer Lizzie Distributing Water Filters

Thank to donations from the Wisconsin Rapids Rotary Sunrise Club, Shoulder to Shoulder was able to purchase 33 water filters.

The water filters were given out to 33 families who participate in our Childhood Nutrition program -- a program in which children from 6 months to 5 years of age are given monthly micronutrient supplements.  These supplements, called Chispuditos, help to prevent stunting, malnutrition, anemia, and other health problems.  The addition of water filters will ensure that the children are drinking clean water, and thus reducing the incidence of diarrhea and other stomach ailments which are so deadly to young children.

A special thanks to our intern, Lizzie Morris, for taking responsibility for this distribution.  Thanks, Lizzie!  (Lizzie is the smiling American in the photo above.)

The staff reported that the families were so excited to get the filters, that they waited 2 hours for the filters to arrive!!  (As you may know, the roads are largely unpaved, and we had a bit of difficulty with the transportation.  But, the filters finally arrived!)

A great big THANK YOU to the Wisconsin Rapids Rotary Club and to all who support StS's Nutrition Program.

Families Proudly Carrying Their Water Filters Home
Families Proudly Carrying Their Water Filters Home

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