A group of college students led by two Brookings residents returned to Honduras to help people in that Central American country.
For the last 10 years, the small group from Oregon has been working with a nonprofit organization in Honduras called Caminando por la Paz. Its primary focus is the education of children living in Chamelecon, a neighborhood of San Pedro Sula.
This year Val Cowan and Tim Stadelman were accompanied by six college students. The students' travel was funded by many donors from the Brookings community. The students donated their time to live and work in a poor neighborhood in Honduras.
The accommodations were minimal. The water wasn't always on. The heat and humidity made for long days. The food was the same every meal, every day. The girls were awakened twice by cockroaches crawling on them at night, according to Stadelman.
"The hardships were outweighed by the young people's sheer enjoyment in sharing work and play with the young people in the program," Stadelman said.
The work in the community included painting the house of a woman who is the only caregiver for her adult handicapped son. The young man, who is bedridden, was blessed with a bright new mural in his bedroom, designed by Jewels Heredia of Brookings, Stadelman said.
Gemma Cowan, Linn Benton Community College student, designed a detailed Bible and faith study program for two groups of children and taught with the help of Sara Stahl of Corvallis and Jessica Fernandez, a Southwestern Oregon Community College student.
Stadelman, a local electrician, worked on various electrical needs of the facilities and looked for property to expand the school. Ben Cowan, Oregon State University student, and Mike Sheehan of Lander, Wyoming, worked on various maintenance projects, fixing school desks and cutting weeds.
All of the young people joined Val Cowan in leading discussions with the program's junior high school students on chastity, abstinence, and building strong relationships and families for stronger communities.
The message was given in a community where many families are dysfunctional, and single parenthood and sexually transmitted disease are common, Stadelman said.
It is a goal of the program that in a few years, some of the high school students will receive scholarships to study medicine. Catholic University of Honduras has a medical program. In helping to realize the goal, Stadelman acquired 10 suitcases stuffed with medical supplies that were donated by the Brookings medical community. These supplies will be used at the university clinic and distributed to other clinics within the city.
Dr. Benjamina Mena, of the Catholic University clinic, expressed her deep gratitude for the generosity of the Brookings community. Some of the supplies are hard for them to obtain in Honduras.
"This is like gold to us," Mena said.
The work the volunteers did in Honduras would not be possible without the many supporters.
"We have supporters that will hand us $5 for our program," Stadelman said. "We have supporters who donate thousands of dollars each year. Regardless of the amount we are thankful. It does make a difference.
"There are many serious problems in Honduras. Financial support can fix some of them. If we have to choose between financial support and prayers, we would choose prayers. Money can fix many problems but prayers can bring miracles."