Yesterday was my last full day in Honduras. It was quite surprising and incredibly satisfying.
Rolando López and I drove to the municipality (similar to a county) of Omoa, on the Caribbean coast. The municipality starts about 30 miles from, and extends to, the Guatemala border. From there we went to the village of Brisas de Rio Cuyamel, just a stone's throw from the border. Last December I posted about the village, where the Ann Campana Judge Foundation had funded and built a potable water system for the community of about 130 people. The project was significant because it was the first project the ACJF had funded and completed on its own. Usually, we support other organizations.
The vista looks northwest from the village. Guatemala is in the background and the Caribbean Sea is just out of the view to the right.
Unbeknownst to me, the villagers, mainly the students, put together a program consisting of a number of short sketches. They were amazing; humor, morality, domestic violence, sobriety, and other slivers from everyday life were addressed. But the emphasis was on the importance of water, as the sign illustrates.
Some pictures follow. I will put the rest on my Facebook page (Michael Campana).
Here is the plaque the village gave me. The bottle contains water from the system. It will travel with me to the USA and sit in my office, along with the plaque.
Below is a picture of me and some of the villagers with 'el tanque'. The villagers want to build a new school near the tank, on land they own. The current school is dilapidated and also on leased land. It must be relocated soon. I am going to help them find funds to purchase the lumber, probably about $2,000 - $3,000. They will have to do a little 'earth moving' to make the land suitable for the school.
After the tank photo was taken we had a wonderful lunch of tortillas, rice, and chicken soup.
Quite a day, but it was not over yet. Rolando and I drove back to San Pedro Sula to meet the mayor of Omoa, Prof. Ricardo Alvarado, who was in SPS for a meeting. I did not realize it but he was going to present me with a certificate of appreciation for my efforts with 'los sistemas de agua potable' in his municipality. I have been involved in six such projects, including Brisas de Cuyamel.
Imagine my surprise and joy when he presented me with the certificate in the lobby of the Hotel Gran Sula, and then brought in a film crew from a local TV station. He spoke with them and then the reporter interviewed me, during which I spoke in broken Spanish.
We asked the mayor to help Brisas de Cuyamel with the school project by providing a municipal front-loader to help prepare the land. He promised that he would. 'Give me a month,' he said. Rolando said the mayor was a man of his word. The villagers will be pleased. Now, for the wood.
All in all, a wonderful end to a great trip, made possible by amigo Rolando López and others. I will have a lot to think about during today's flight home and the ensuing days, weeks, and months.
Sometimes it takes a while to realize which things are really important in your life. What I saw and experienced today and during the past week is one of them. At 63, I am finally there.
"So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key." -- Already Gone by The Eagles (1974), written by Jack Tempchin and Bob Strandlund