By Kurt Madar
Pilot staff writer
Five members of Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Brookings spent three weeks in Honduras on a mission trip building houses and helping children.
"We get families here to sponsor a student," said 18 year old Ellen Stadelman. "We sponsored 81 children this time. The money from sponsors is used to help the children go to school."
The five volunteers immerse themselves in the local culture in an effort to build understanding. They ate, slept, and worked alongside the families that they were there to help.
"I think it is important to acknowledge that they don't need our help to build their houses they are very hard working," Ann Cowan, 18, said. "Instead we work with them to build a bridge between the group and the people we are there to help."
Tim Stadelman and Val Cowan accompanied Ellen Stadelman, Ann Cowan, and Ben Cowan, 15, on the trip.
"My dad (Stadelman) is an electrician," Ellen said. "He wired four houses in three weeks."
Tim Stadelman has been going to Honduras to help for the last four years.
"I first heard about it from Father Heiko Junge who was formerly a priest in Bandon," Stadelman said. "Junge would have people come down from North America to help with housing projects. I heard about the trip and joined about a dozen other people."
That was the beginning of the program. Now the program is run in Honduras predominately by local Hondurans.
"The cool part about the people running the program is how involved they are with the families," Val said.
All three young people who went felt that it was an excellent learning experience. Stadelman said that being immersed in the culture was great for her Spanish-speaking skills.
"What motivated me is to help poor people and play soccer," Ben said.
Ben's mom Val laughed.
"We would be working, and Ben would be playing soccer," Val said. "There were times when I thought he should be working, but it turns out that he was doing something very important. When we were leaving Ben was presented with a cake because, by playing soccer, he was bringing the children out of their shells. He was breaking the ice."