This is the group at the beginning of the day….
And this is the group on the way home….
It was a very long day!
I can’t believe I am in Honduras! This experience has been amazing so far and we have only been here for 3 days! It was a long journey here but we made it! Helping out with Hands on Progreso was so much fun! In a little amount of time we cleaned up so much and it was great to see everyone using the work gloves I brought down! Meeting the scholars has been one of my favorite parts. They have such awesome energy and love having us here! Oscar is teaching the group how to dance and it is hilarious! I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has to offer. A huge shoutout to my friends and family that helped support this trip Without you guys I would not be where I am! I love you all!
Adiós for now,
Today was great! The group I’m in worked on cutting out stencils for the garbage cans we will be painting. While cutting, we were able to talk with Oscar, one of our Honduran group members. We laughed a lot! I’m looking forward to another great day!
Shoutout to my mother; I haven’t been carried away by a rip current! And dad, stop worrying! I’m having a wonderful time. Everyone here is extremely kind and welcoming. I feel right at home. Mom, dad, Ellen- I love you! It’s 95 and sunny here! I hope you guys enjoy the snow!
I hope everyone is enjoying Stephanie’s awesome blog as much as we are
enjoying our experience in Honduras and with OYE. All the students are
doing a great job, learning lots, and experiencing some very tough
topics such as access to education, the effects of corruption,
inadequate healthcare and extreme poverty. Our panel discussion on
these topics today was eye opening and I am so grateful to the
Honduran leaders and students who shared and discussed with us today.
Keep checking back to hear more updates, see more photos and follow
our journey. Thanks for all your support! Shout out to my family, miss
Yesterday was a pretty long day! We started off in the morning doing street outreach with Capital Hill Group Ministry. We had backpacks full of food and hot chocolate and walked along the streets to find people that needed assistance.
Then in the afternoon we worked with Martha’s Table at an elementary school. This was where people could get healthy food for their families. We helped set up and helped the families get what they needed.
Hola from Guatemala!
Holy cow what an incredible last few days! Weve done so much it feels like weve been here for way longer than a few days. Now, where to start… there’s a lot to talk about so this will be a long one…
We left Oshkosh around 11:15pm on Friday night. Drove to O’Hare which we were able to reach by 2:30am. Hopped our 5:15am flight to Houston. Caught our next flight to Guatemala where we landed at 11:10am CA time! It was a shock how hot and humid it was. But it was so incredibly beautiful. Customs and all that fun stuff was a breeze… until we realized Sophie’s luggage never showed. Luckily they told us they’d be able to deliver it around 4pm.
We walked outside the doors and there in front of us were dozens and dozens of people all holding signs or looking for inbound loved ones behind a gate. It was loud and so many people that it was nearly overwhelming. After finding a man named Luis holding up a “OSHKOSH” sign, we were able to hit the road.
We pulled out of the terminal to officially and finally set our eyes on Guatemala in person. Wow! Here we finally were! At this place we’ve been preparing for for months now. All around us were blue sky’s and green trees. There were bright colored buildings and the hustle and bustle of the Guatemala City traffic was intense! The smell of the city was that of fresh grass, summer haze and diesel fuel. The streets had a dusty dirtiness to them but it was an almost forgettable feature when compared to all the bright buildings with beautifully shaped bars over the windows. It was all so exciting! Once we were out of the city, we were able to see so much of Guatemala’s natural beauty as well as the smaller towns. We drove through Antigua which was ancient and beautiful. Narrow streets of cobble stone in a city with such wonderful life and color. It was surrounded by mountains and valcanos. We then drove to the small side town of San Miguel Escobar which is where we arrived at As Green! On one side of the very narrow street is the As Green offices with the logo painted out front. Across the street was the house they put their service groups in. It’s big and gorgeous. I can’t even believe it!
Once settled into the house, which was absolutely stunning! Even has a rooftop balcony. Our hostess Jane showed us around the small town of San Miguel Escobar. I’ll post pictures of it. Later we went to dinner at one of the As Green farmers house. His name was Mercedes and spoke no Spanish! So we combined minds to communicate with him. It was fun and the food was incredible. Afterwords details get blurry. I’m pretty sure we were all in bed by 8.
We woke up to the sunrise and our cook Amalia making breakfast. Delicious! Soon Jane came by to take us to Antigua for some sights of the area. Our van was late so we played a real intense round of Catchphrase. My team won obviously. We hit the city and it was gorgeous. There will be pictures to come. It had some ancient architecture as well as bright colored buildings and super cobblestone roads. It’s surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. Oh! it’s just wonderful!
First we hiked up to this hill that over looked the city. There was a cross upon it which was all very beautiful.
Next we walked to see some Mayan ruins! SO COOL! so peaceful and incredible.
We ate lunch at a very American-ized cafe. However we all mostly still ate off the Guatemala menu. As Mike says, “When in Rome, do as the Guatemalans do!” we exchanged cash afterwords and went through the market for some souvenirs.
It was back to the house were we did an incredibly interesting coffee activity. We learned all about the coffee process then followed by the economics of coffee. We learned how sadly little these farmers make in the grand scheme of it all. A jar of instant coffee is 2.35, right? Well farmers only make 4 cents of that. Holy wow, thats terrible. Here at As Green As It Gets, they make sure their farmers make 100% of the profit. It’s a really great program they have working here that really benefits those that are truly sincere to their work.
After all this learning we went to dinner at another farmers home. Having all these meals with farmers has allowed us to really get to know the great people that work so hard for quality crop. It’s really neat.
We arrived back at the house and had a rooftop pow-wow to discuss how everyhings going. We ended the night with such a delightful game of Cards Against Humanity.
Today’s the coffee day! We left the house at about 9am to begin our hike up the side of Volcan Agua. It was steep and rocky and slippery with dirt but after over an hour and a half we made it! we were on the side of a volcano over 6000ft above sea level. Whoa! We picked coffee for an hour which was a lot of fun. The winners of the most coffee picked were Amber, Daniel, Kari and myself. We were rewarded with As Green As It Gets water bottles! They look super cool!
It was a great experience to see what all goes into something like coffee. We then got to by some o Timoteo’s coffee! We bought coffee from our coffee farmer. Too cool!
Afterwards we hosed off and a couple of us went exploring through the town for some snacks at little corner stores. Andy from As Green stopped by to give us a run down of what As Green does and why it’s different from other coffee places. He explained more in-depth about the co-op and how the workers are paid. It’s really great to see such a business do what they can to get these hard working individuals the income they deserve.
Dinner tonight was at Gregorio’s house! He also only spoke Spanish. As we walked back from dinner we noticed all of these shrines of Jesus outside of people’s homes were put up. He explained to us that it’s a Monday night ritual during lent where families of the particular church in town pray together to their shrines of Jesus that were accompanied by candles and purple flowers. It’s a really interesting and new thing to learn about in this culture.
Well that leads us to now! Wow that’s lot! It took me a http access wifi but now that Ive got it I hope to make these more frequent (nightly?) so they’re not so long! I’ll also be includin words from other folks on the team and possibly some pictures. If not now then for sure when we get back.
Tomorrow it’s off to do some construction!
The group started the day by taking a tour through the city to see all the different murals OYE had painted. Each mural had a different theme. The first mural had people picketing, asking for peace and rights. Another mural touched on the importance of recycling and taking care of the environment. There was a mural that focused on the importance of healthcare. Each mural was beautiful while still sending out a strong message. They were located near schools, the library, and the medical center. The most special part of the trip was being able to see the mural that the ASB students made last year.
Also on our trip we visited the municipal center of El Progreso. In the center people are able to pay taxes and fees. Also there is space for events and expositions. It was located in a nice park that had a famous clock tower. We also visited the school that one of the scholars attends. It is called Perla and surrounding the school grounds are big, green mountains.
Next we returned to OYE where a panel talked about the national reality of Honduras. The members of the panel were some of the OYE scholars and some important community members like a man from Radio Progreso, the local board of directors of OYE, and someone from Visión Mundial (World vision). The panelists talked about three themes: security, education, and health.
The first topic of security started by touching on how Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world. There are roughly 3,547 deaths every six months or an average of 20 deaths a day. The government is trying to focus on cracking down on delinquents; but this tends to be an excuse to ignore the bigger problems. Their main priority is repression when it should be prevention and rehabilitation. This is especially important in young people because the majority of deaths are in youth. Very few students continue education past primary schools. They may turn to gang activity or drug trafficking in order to make enough money to take care of their families. The reality is that 20% of the population has 80% of the resources. Many families in Honduras live off of 2 dollars a day.
The biggest way to solve security issues is education. The law on paper is great. It says that education should be free for all. In theory it’s great, free education for all. The issue with it is the lack of resources. A school may have walls but no roof, it may have roofs and walls but no desks, or it may have roofs, walls, desks, but no teacher. Kids come to school because they truly want to learn but they find a lack of resources to supplement their education. The country invests a very high GEP in education but 99% of it goes to administration costs.
The last issue touched on was health. There are private hospitals, semi private hospitals, and public hospitals. Very few people have insurance that pays for them to go to nice hospitals. At the public hospitals they are able to evaluate patients but may not have the medicine to give to patients. One hospital was only supplied medicine once a year and the medicine was gone in three weeks. In one instance a doctor wouldn’t show up for weeks on end. There isn’t a culture of preventable medicine here. There is a huge problem with birth control and teen pregnancy.
Although these issues sound bleak, there is still some light in the situation. In a study done Honduran citizens were asked if they had hope or fear for the future. 70% of the people asked said they have hope for the future. Honduras has enough resources to be a strong, country; they just need a way to organize and get rid of the corruption.
Next we worked on our two projects. Half of us went and worked on the mural we are painting. The mural’s theme is taking care of the environment, specifically: reduce, reuse, and recycle. The other half of us continued working on the educational campaign. We cut out stencils to decorate recycling barrels and did some painting. It was really fun to work together and keep getting to know the scholars.
For dinner we went to the hotel and had chicken and potato salad. Then we danced! We showed off some American songs like the Cupid Shuffle and Wobble. Next the OYE scholar Oscar showed us salsa, bachata, and meringue. We are finally starting to get a hang of moving our hips. We worked up a sweat though so all of us jumped in the pool fully clothed! It was such a fun way to end the night!