Blogs From Honduras: our first work day

By Dick Manelis

We arrived without incident in the early afternoon of February 25 and were greeted, first by Brittany, who had flown in from San Francisco to join us, and then by our Rotary driver.  The trip to Copan Ruinas took four hours - over at times a lot of pot holes and at times behind many trucks, many of which were loaded with sugar cane.
We had our welcome dinner with the local Rotarians on Saturday night and got many questions answered. On Sunday, we walked to the ruins that are located just out of town.  While I say "walk," a few of us less hardy took the local transportation - one driver and a seat for two or three in a three-wheel "taxi." Any location in town is $1.00. 
Today, February 27, is our first work day.  The local Rotary is very active and there is an average of about one Rotaract club per Rotary club.  This means there are lots of hands-on projects and much being done in the name of Rotary.
The local club is involved with a water-purification system to be installed in a community just north of where we  are.  Our job was to construct the building for it and our contribution was to be $3,000, which was wired down before we left.  Unfortunately during the prior week, there were disagreements concerning the project and it was put on "hold." We are involved in another one of their projects.
About 20 minutes north of us is a Mayan village.  There are about 200 people living there - all, of Mayan descent. They are living in poverty status and the Rotary goal is to provide bath and shower capabilities for each of the 74 homes.  Forty-five have been done and our goal is to do eight more - leaving 21 to be completed.  The goal of eight was selected because our funding of $3,000 covers the construction of eight.  Our work project is to physically build - with cement blocks - as many of the bath/shower facilities that we can in five days. 
Just a comment on the project:  On most of our trips, what we accomplished would not have taken place had we not been there to do it.  We staffed remote clinics in Brazil and funded the cameras for eye examinations, we built a culture and therapy center in Costa Rica, we replaced an old, unhealthy ceiling in an elementary school in El Salvador, and we renovated an elementary school in Belize.  While our project here is needed, we are actually accelerating an effort that would have eventually taken place.  While I don't want to diminish its importance, the distinction is there.
Today, we started on building No. 1 (for us) and got six or seven levels of cement blocks before we had to quit.  To go higher requires either a ladder or staging, and they had neither.  Tomorrow, February 28, we will break into two groups so we can accomplish more - only so many at a time can do the construction at one site.  I don't think we'll get all of our eight done this week but at least we'll make a significant dent in the goal. 
Now it is time for a shower and maybe even a short nap before supper!
Past District Governor Dick Manelis, a member of the Rotary Club of Framingham, may be reached at