Mar 13, 2020

What a Beautiful Adventure It Is

Nely with 1st Place Winner Lucy
Nely with 1st Place Winner Lucy

What a beautiful adventure it is -- to take a seat and enjoy a wonderful enchanted journey. It is a feeling that can’t be described, a world that only your imagination can give you. Through a book, you can get into any world you want. This happened with the children of our bilingual school in Camasca through a reading contest.

Do not read by obligation, do it for fun, smile, live, love, enjoy it. Be aware! With every book you read, you are entering the mind of the person who wrote the book and wants to share their world with you. Begin to be like Lucy, a fifth-grade student in our bilingual school, who fell in love with reading and at the age of 11 years, has now read more than 50 books! – not common in a culture where reading is not a habit.

This project was the first of its kind and being in charge of it was a big challenge for me. It made me feel honored … I was trusted with the first annual Shoulder to Shoulder Reading Contest. We had to plan the project and decide on prizes. We decided to give a big prize to the student who had read the largest number of books.

At the very beginning of her adventure, Lucy’s goal was to win first place in the competition only because of what first place meant, but then it became a hobby and at the end of the contest she continued reading as she had been doing every day. What was really rewarded was her dedication and enthusiasm for reading. I don’t think that I will ever forget when Lucy told her teacher one day: “Miss Jessy, can you please call my dad? I need to tell him that I am staying after class to read.”

Although all the kids were wild about the reading contest, it seemed like it had the biggest impact in the fifth-grade classroom.  Students there read as much as they could: they went to read at recess, at lunch, at all times, they even got to school early and stayed later than usual. One of them was Noé. Even though he did not read the most, all his reports demonstrated how much he dove into the books. I was always excited to see the proof that he actually understood and comprehended what he read – much like Nohely’s and Keylin’s reports.

Limits exist only in your mind; the best prize that reading can give you is knowledge. But keep in mind that it is not a book that gives it to you, but your desire and inclination towards reading. Whether you read due to obligation, fun, a challenge, a goal or just out of curiosity, it takes you to a wonderful place.

Fifth Grade Winner Nohely
Fifth Grade Winner Nohely


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.


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


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