story / editorial
the Island Nation
By Thomas Tomczyk
Islands Have Caught Up with Mainland's Abysmal Educational Record.
Is there a way out?
US invasion of Iraq and the Bay Island's public education system have
something in common. They both failed, yet few people have a reasonable
hope of making them succeed. The US and Honduran central and local
governments find it difficult to 'stop supporting the troops, or teachers'
fighting there. In both cases a completely new approach is needed.
Some individuals and an education committee are looking at alternatives
for making a change.
Lost, Promises Broken
In the first week of February I encountered a ladino family of eight
squatting on a piece of land in shacks without running water or
electricity. Of the family's six young children, three were not
in school because the family "could not afford to buy them
school uniforms and supplies," I was told at first.
reasons why the three 11 to 13 year old boys were not in school
were more complex I soon found out. The two boys: Jesus and Oscar,
lived on Roatan for six years and had jobs as grocery store helpers.
The third one, 15-years-old Juan, came to Roatan only three month
before from Olancho and after three grades could neither read nor
Juan said that if he went back to school his classmates would make
fun of his age. I argued that the teasing would stop in a week and
if he managed to learn how to read he wouldn't end up being teased
for the rest of his life.
At the end of the day and Lps. 3,000 later, two of the boys were
ready to go to school. While Jesus and Oscar made a promise that
in exchange for this opportunity they would go to school for the
entire year, Juan decided to focus on looking for a job. When I
checked with their teacher I was told Jesus and Oscar stopped coming
to class in May. This sad story is en example of the complex and
uphill struggle that the people on the Bay Islands are facing and
of the priorities that they have.
Someone always has to be last and there is a reason why Honduras
is at the bottom of educational systems in Central America. Amongst
9 countries that are already poor, it is Honduras that is furthest
behind and there are many reasons for that. One of the most important
reasons is Honduras' moribund education system. If anything is to
change it for the better, it is unlikely it will catch up to Nicaragua
"The problem is that children are not taught to question, debate,
or rationalize. I think it is a cultural thing," says Cam O'Brien,
chair of Roatan Municipal Education Commission funded in March 2007.
You cannot outrun the Honduran mentality. Education is way down
the list of priorities for typical Hondurans and that will not be
changed easily. What Hondurans value in general are not education
and honesty, but wealth and power. Changing that will take many
generations. It is much easier to reinforce current attitudes than
From a Bay Islands perspective, perfecting the Honduras' national
education system for the benefit of island youth is impossible.
The national educational system is hopelessly dysfunctional and
youth are finding ways of educating themselves despite of it, not
because of it.
About the Benefits
The 61,000 Honduran public teachers are a privileged group, capable
and ready to protect their own interest and benefits. According
to O'Brien, around 98% of the Bay Islands education budget goes
towards teacher salaries. "The whole system is focused on salaries
and benefits, but is not interested in improving the education system,"
The Honduras government, while hesitant, almost always gives in
to teacher demands, organized in their Honduran Teachers Federations
(FOHM). The teacher's 2006 street protests raised their base monthly
base salary from $298 to $353. While the month long strikes continued,
2.5 million Honduran school children stayed at home. According to
Oxfam, IMF disagreement over teacher salary increases has cost the
country $500 million in delayed debt relief and donor aid cuts.
Honduran teachers, six times more numerous and far better paid than
police officers, form a powerful lobby ready to defend their rights
and benefits they acquired over time. Too often the interests of
teachers do not go with the interests of the students. In 2005,
80 of the 200 class days were squandered as a result of teacher's
strikes and protests.
The teachers who go against the system are ostracized. Eight years
ago a national teachers strike paralyzed the Bay Islands schools
and one teacher decided to keep on giving classes. Professor Rosa
Amelia Bindel taught in Brick Bay until she was pressured by fellow
teachers to stop teaching. "She would buy things that the children
needed," says about Bindel Maritza Busitllo, a Brick Bay resident.
Quite a price to pay.
Fausto Miguel School in Brick Bay is a typical Bay Island school.
Founded in 1990, in 2001 it received its own two classroom building
built with Roatan Municipal money. While the light bill is paid
from the Departments Education budget, the children's parents pay
for water and 25 mothers alternate cooking the afternoon student
The school's four teachers earn an average of Lps. 17,000 a month.
With bonuses and administrative costs, the Honduran government pays
Lps. 1.1 million a year to educate the school's 83 students. The
yearly cost per student is Lps. 13,250. That does not include educational
materials such as transportation costs, uniforms, and supplies that
are all paid by the parents.
The most affordable of Roatan's bilingual schools, Church of God
School in Coxen Hole, educates a typical student for Lps. 14,800
a year. It would make more financial sense for the Honduran government
to pay private Bay Islands' schools to educate.
The litmus tests of the Bay Islands education system is provided
by the foreigners who decide to raise their children here. While
Hondurans may have few choices, foreigners with children face the
dilemma of moving back or sending their children to boarding school
to ensure that they have a chance at a western level education.
"I love the multicultural aspect of education here," says
Kim Dueffert, a 14 year Roatan resident who nevertheless would not
consider keeping her only child in the island educational system
beyond first, or second grade. Her five-year-old daughter Mia, will
go attend a grade school in Wisconsin starting in August. "I
will be curious to see how she will do in the US education system,"
For Frenchman Pascal Accard and Canadian Leinie Cohen, a couple
who lived in West Bay for 11 years, priorities changed once their
two children reached school age. In 2006, while still overlooking
a hotel business on the island, they decided to leave Roatan for
Panama. "The teachers in Panama all have diplomas. They are
not just recruited off the street," said Accard. "Our
children were born here. They are islanders, but we have to show
them a vision of other places other than Roatan."
Foreigners are not the only people looking at options to the island
education. Islanders with families in the US often try to send their
children to US schools. One of them is Ramsey McNab, 14, and ready
to move to Tampa. Just like his brother Kerry and several other
family members before him, he plans on transferring from Children's
Palace grade 9 to a Florida Junior High's grade 10.
The most difficult part of continuing the education in the US is
finding a place to stay and not everyone has family willing to take
the students in. Ben Gough, a student in the same situation as Ramsey
had to give up his aspirations of studying in an American High School
because he doesn't have a family in US.
Despite the concept of feeding the needy, the school lunch program
administered in Bay Islands' schools develops and enforces poor
dietary habits Hondurans suffer from already. Rice, beans, sardines
and vegetable oil meals cooked by student parents or teachers themselves
are hardly a solution to the children's nutrition situation, but
shape the diets and eating habits of children in the county's public
school system. Correspondingly problems with obesity and poor nutrition
surface in Hondurans as young as 18.
French Harbour public library a high school student receives
from a US volunteer.
According to UN 23% of the Honduran budget, or round $422 million,
is spent on education. Out of that, $3.7 million or 0.9%, goes to
the Bay Islands. To relieve the need for new schools and maintenance,
all Bay Islands Municipals had too step in with financial help.
Over the last 18 months, Roatan Municipal built 30 new classrooms
at a cost of Lps. 6 million. While education scholarships at one
point granted by Mayor Hynds are no longer offered, the Municipal
is paying 36 salaries of English teachers, Lps. 130,000 a month,
to teach at the public schools.
The premise about helping all the children is a difficult one. If
anything, you can save the brightest children and help them succeed
in getting ahead. The few children that succeed in Bay Islands public
schools succeed not because of them, but despite them. Half of children
enrolled in Roatan Bilingual School are ladino, and according to
Cheryl Galindo, owner of the school, it is because their parents
see a clear benefit of the private education system.
Roatan public school system is as broken as anywhere else in Honduras.
It cannot help itself, regardless good intentions. "Teachers
blame parents, parents blame teachers, and everyone blames the government,"
says O'Brien. In a six month period, the commission wants to go
through three phases: gathering information, analysis and finally
designing a realistic model for improving the Bay Islands' education
The improvement issue might come to whether they will have to work
within the existing national education structure or could they look
at their own models. "We are looking at all options,"
Bilingual School cadets on September 15 parade
Few Roatan schools, let alone students, have even a complete
set of text books. The only books available to teachers are
for Spanish and Math. O'Brien took on the system to equip
an education center at Sandy Bay Public School near her home.
"After six month of lobbying, the Ministry of Education
finally sent us a complete set of books,"says O'Biren.
Still, just having the books does not solve the issue. The
books offered by the government are held in such low esteem
that families of the Corozal Public School decided to buy
a set of Santilla books, at Lps. 250 each, for their children
instead of getting the government ones.
"We assemble our own books to teach from," says
Estefi Romero, 28, director and teacher of the Brick Bay's
Fausto Miguel School. "The new books lack definitions
of terms and stories of witches are inappropriate." Many
Bay Islands teachers feel uncomfortable using the materials
provided by Central Education Ministry. They prefer using
school books published by Santilla and Division Publica, Spanush
language publishers of school books.
are the Bay Islands?
There is no mention of Bay Islands in the text books provided
by the government in grades 1 through 6. The first reference
of Spanish conquistadors in Honduras is not the 1505 Columbus
landing on Guanaja, but 20 years later Hernan Cortez coming
to Puerto Cortez. The Honduran education authorities would
rather lose 20 years of its history than acknowledge the Bay
Islands in its history books.
The new books provided by the government base the educational
strategy on educating through a story. But among stories of
witches, peasants and city children there is not a single
story about the Honduras' islanders. The Honduras education
system is not only neglectful; it is purposely omitting the
heritage of some of its people.
Most teaching done in the Bay Islands' public schools is done
in two classroom schools, far away from any supervision. Many
teachers are uncomfortable using the new Spanish language
books as they contain stories about witches and goblins. "They
don't teach it for religious reasons," says O'Brien.
Whatever the reason maybe, the public school teachers make
their individual decisions if and how to use the textbooks
in the classrooms. Many teachers just follow their own methodology
of teaching with little supervision and no accountability.
According to Andy Watler, no teacher has ever been fired from
their post in the Bay Islands.
The current illiteracy ration of 40%-60% didn't apply in the
Bay Islands until the 80s when the ladino migration to the
archipelago created a class of illiterate and semi-literate
adults. Twenty five years ago, almost every Islander would
go to school, and would be able to read and write, many times,
in two languages. As the school enrollment ratio has gradually
declined on the islands to reflect the mainland 50% enrollment,
An example of how things used to be in an education structure
is the community of 800 people of Saint Helene island where
there are two schools. The government school in which 150
students are enrolled is staffed by four teachers who commute
to the island from Oak Ridge. Because of the commute, the
classes are really only given on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The islands private school, Helene Bilingual School FBEL has
97 students. Larry Benson, director of the school, says that
60-70% of the school's children have their $150-$300 monthly
tuition paid for by sponsors in the US. At the same time,
FBEL organizes and pays for construction of the roof and school
supplies of the government school. The private school is training
four island women to eventually take the educational responsibilities
from the school's American teachers.
Saint Helene's EFBEl isn't the only private school cooperating
with a public school. According to ex-department BI director
of education Marta Herrera, there are 537 scholarships for
study in the public schools. "There is a way to exchange
knowledge, share our curriculum to walk together towards the
same goal," said Herrera about public and private school
cooperation in the Bay Islands.
Herrera was in charge of a Lps. 70 million budget, around
400 public school teachers and 200 private school teachers.
With all the vested parties, it is sometimes difficult to
see a consistency of efforts. "We have to invest in our
children's education, but everyone is pulling in different
directions," said Galindo about the BI Education Commission
When O'Brien first came through the doors of the Sandy Bay
School in 2005, the facilities were abysmal. "520 children
in a 5-room school. No working toilets or running water,"
O'Brien describes of the school. To raise funds and improve
the situation, O'Brien came up with a novel way of fundraising.
Every Thursday at 6:30pm a crab race is held at Bay Islands
Beach Resort owned and managed by O'Brien. Between March and
December 2006, the races raised $10,000 that was used to purchase
computers, redo plumbing, wiring and create a first of its
kind learning center at the Sandy Bay Elementary School. The
attitude of the Sandy Bay students improved dramatically.
O'Brien isn't alone in trying to make a difference. Shelli
Heil, 40, an ex-business owner who in February moved to Roatan
from the US, has devoted herself to launching a mentoring
and counseling program to the few Roatanians that are thinking
Heil wanted to make a difference, but decided that instead
of fighting the system from top down, she could accomplish
most if she works with students individually. On July 14,
students were partnered with five tutors, US medical students
already volunteering at the Clinica Esperanza in Sandy Bay.
Heil set up a mentoring program for students in grades 9-11
thinking about going on to University. The tutoring takes
place at the French Harbour's Library, a place full of books
and learning equipment that looks empty, abandoned by island
youth. The only people using the library were the tutors and
What Heil found out that students lack understanding of how
to go about applying to universities. "There were many
people that promised these children a lot and never delivered,"
In all, there are around 10 organizations in the Bay Islands
attempting to improve the education situation in the island
department. The primary education efforts eventually translate
into university education opportunities for some of islands
youth. "In this country everyone seems to think that
education ends at sixth grade," says O'Brien. According
to O'Brien, out of the 15,000 students in the department,
404 graduated from high school in 2006 and less then 10, that
is 1/20 of 1%, went on to a university.
While it is unrealistic to count on changing the Hondurans
attitude towards education, you can try a few ambitious programs
that could change the fate of a small Honduran department.
Today, to give their children opportunity of getting ahead,
Islanders send their children away to Tegucigalpa, San Pedro
and La Ceiba. If anything, maybe Bay Islands could be a place
where island children stay for their education, all the way
through the university.
To improve the archipelago's education environment in any
significant and meaningful way, thinking outside the box is
needed. Part of that help can came from developing a strong
scholarship system to private Bay Islands schools to support
the talented youth and relieve the overstretched public system.
Other help can come from individual programs run by pragmatically,
realistically thinking individuals and organizations.
It will take courage to enact a Bay Island wide education
reform. Considering the rigidity of the government education
system and vested interests of public teachers' unions, reform
looks even less likely. It is also much easier to support
the failed governments' educational program and, despite all
its failings, just throw money at it. The Honduran education
system is broken and no one department strategy is likely
to help this in a significant way. Even with good ideas and
good will, you cannot fix, or perfect something that is failing
at the core.
Florida Hospital volunteers paint a mural at the French Harbour
Accident Express: Riding 40 miles an hour construction workers
commute back to their homes on the back of lorry trucks
story / editorial
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______________back to top
Taboo of Culture & Race by Thomas Tomczyk
In the Bay Islands, the 200 years of rivalry and armed conflict
between English islanders and Spanish was followed in 1853
with 150 years of ambiguous neglect on the part of the Honduran
government and disdain on the part of the islanders.
For all this time Bay Islanders' different ethnic, religious
and cultural groups have settled and stayed in different parts
of the island interacting with each other only in town, at
work, and on the streets. Catholic Garifuna stayed in Punta
Gorda, black protestants settled in Sandy Bay and Flowers
Bay, while white islanders built their homes near good harbors
and sheltered southern slopes of French Cay and Jonesville.
In his 1966 book The People of French Harbour: A study of
Conflict and Change on Roatan Island, David K. Evans identified
in the Bay Islands a scale of social stratification based
on skin color. The long-in-use derogatory expressions of:
'caracoles,' 'Spaniards,' 'indios' and 'negritos,' have taken
on a new life. The initial disdain that they carried, has
washed down, but by no means disappeared.
While foreigners who arrived on the islands intermarried with
all these groups and integrated, the late arriving ladinos
had to build their homes in the interior of the islands, then
crowded the booming areas of Los Fuertes and squatted by the
side of the road and on land that they were "allowed
While foreigners, mostly English speaking, were welcomed,
the Spaniards- symbolizing the governing Honduras, were treated
with mistrusts. As rich ladino families took on English as
their language and over time managed to become "islanders,"
most poor ladinos remained on the island's periphery. Over
the last 10 years their numbers have grown to where they form
half of Roatan's population.
No one wants to be considered the bottom of the totem pole.
Ladinos, while the biggest group on the islands, make up its
widening bottom base, but occupy that place with ill ease.
Deep suspicions within all Bay Islands communities remain
and simmer. They rise to the surface in times of conflicts
and elections. Recent such occasions came during RECO disturbances,
foreigner and ladino land conflicts, and then most recently
during the Barbaret boat deaths.
Foreigners who could understand Spanish watched in disbelief
as slogans of "get out gringos who steel our land and
kill us" were repeated over and over again. This took
place on air on Channel 4 and Channel 9, during the call-in
"news" shows that are set-up for entertainment and
resemble a cross over between Jerry Springer and Imus. The
TV personalities dominating these shows are all ladino as
are most of their callers.
three days after the Barbaret incident, patronatos vice president,
another ladino, marched through the streets of Coxen Hole
with a loudspeaker shouting "get out Gringos who take
away our beaches!" A few moments later, a semi-comical
moment came as a Flowers Bay black islander man told the crowd,
"We're running all the 'Choreados' (dirty Spaniard) off
Ladinos used "the Gringo" as a distraction to hide
their own mistrust and resentment of the white islanders and
black population. The Barbaret incident exposed deep seeded
resentment that the ladinos feel towards the foreigners.
While these people reflect on the society that surrounds them,
what was revealed is scary. Ladino community is insecure,
full of suspicions, and harboring a sense of conspiracy. Ladinos
often look at foreigners both with envy and disdain. They
want to be wealthy like them, but at the same time they resent
their economic status. The foreigners, categorized by most
ladinos as 'Gringos,' are often in verbal conflicts reminded
that they are only guests here. The inability of many foreigners
to regulate their legal status makes them particularly vulnerable.
Foreigners also are not without fault either. They often harbor
and speak out with a sense of superiority and self importance.
They put down the islanders for their "laziness and apathy"
and ladinos for their "lack of education and stubbornness."
Foreigners often grow a sense of resentment of the incompetent
and abusive central government that changes laws, but doesn't
follow them and can be bribed with a few hundred Lempiras.
Amongst the Bay Island's foreign consignment, it is perhaps
the Canadians and Americans that are most notorious for their
inability and unwillingness to learn Spanish. This fact is
often misconstrued as threatening to the ladinos, who show
the same disinterest and opposition at learning English.
These cultural, racial and religious tensions and conflicts
are usually a taboo subject in Honduras and on the Bay Islands.
While many Hondurans and Bay Islanders would like to see themselves
as one big happy family, the reality is quite different. Their
archipelago all through its history has harbored a deeply
rooted conflict that is cultural, racial and religious in
story / editorial
/ local news
Foreigners and authorities meet to discuss the incident
and its repercussions.
foreigners at the meeting were concerned more with the aftermath
of the incident and the scapegoat of foreigners in the local media.
Several people raised concerns that both Roatan TV stations, run
by Spanish speaking staff, have accused Kelcy Warren, an American
owner of Barbaret, of ordering or personally killing the Helen island
youth. "I was frightened of what Roberto [Romero] was saying
and how far he was inciting the people," said Helen Murphy,
an American living on Roatan, about a Channel 4 TV personality.
Channel 4 owner, Marco Galindo, agrees that the Barbaret coverage
crossed a line: "These guys [Channel 4 personalities] are not
very smart and when people call in, it makes a big commotion."
While Galindo says that Channel 4 coverage is far from being journalism,
he still gives his TV staff a wide degree of independence.
A different take on the matter had Congressman Jerry Hynds. "It
was the Spanish media that took advantage of this. They [just] didn't
want to say Spanish guys killed some black boys," said Congressman
Hynds. "There was always a great rivalry between island people
and Spanish people." As Bay Islands grow and the wealth gap
amongst its residents widens, foreigners will likely play an active
role in this "rivalry."
Tim Blanton, an American resident on Roatan asks a question.
The death of three Helene Island youth in a boat ramming and the Spanish
TVs coverage of the incident became the focus of the meeting at Coral
Cay on June 6. Around 50 foreigners listened to the authorities' version
of what took place and then voiced their concerns. "This was
no accident. This was premeditated murder," said Congressman
Congressman Hynds and Governor Thompson agreed that arrests were made
swiftly and the judicial process was taking place as it should. Still,
at least some Saint Helenians were leaving nothing to chance. "We
have people who trace them, so the authorities just wouldn't let them
go on the mainland," said Wally Bodden, Santos Guardiola councilman,
about the three men arrested for ramming the Saint Helene boat.
Cubans in Sandy Bay
advantage of strong southern winds and currents, another boat filled
with Cubans lands on Roatan
According to the Cuban migrants, and contradictory to Honduran press
speculations, the only people making money and, in an organized manner,
earning a living from the boat transport of Cubans to Honduras, are
the boat builders.
The "La Dichosa" cost the 13 migrants 200,000 Cuban pesos,
or $8,000. Ten of them paid $800 each to purchase a place in a five
meter long wood boat lined with fiberglass and equipped with supplies
and fuel to last them till Cayman Islands. The increase in demand
for the boats ready to reach Honduras has increased the price charged
by the boat builders. Two years ago you only needed $400," says
Carlos Carbajal, a diesel mechanic who came with the 13 Cubans.
Accusations of boats being picked up at high seas and then towed just
short of Honduran coast don't hold much water. Bay Islands Voice has
analyzed every case of Cubans landing on Roatan and verified that
they came through Cayman Islands on a date provided by the crew. With
a sail, a drift speed of 2-3 miles an hour is well in line with the
time between leaving Caymans and arrival in Honduras. Also the feasibility
of towing flimsy 15-17 foot vessels for days seems more dangerous
that the actual endeavor of sailing it for 8-12 days.
While accusations are exchanged on who profits from the immigration
of Cubans, the main reasons for them undertaking this perilous journey
remain the same: the lack of Honduran-Cuban agreement on repatriation
of migrants without passports or visas.
According to the Manzanillo 13, two boats have disappeared bringing
the Cubans to Honduras. In January 2007, a boat with 15 people on
board departed Manzanillo and was not seen again and in March of 2006,
a boat with seven people went missing. With the reported one, even
two boats leaving Gramma for Honduras every week, the chances of successful
crossing are still with the migrants. Bay Islands Voice estimates
in the most suitable for crossing months of January through June that
as many as 30 boats with around 400 Cubans left for Honduras. While
some are turned back by Cuban coast guard, deemed un-seaworthy in
Cayman Islands, or picked up in international waters by US coast guards
and returned, the majority do make it to Honduras' shore and eventually
to the US. Around 5% of the migrants die in the endeavor.
"La Dichosa" 13 and Rev. Fredy Cabreras of the Roatan Catholic
Church in front of the Coxen Hole police station.
The 13 left the town of Manzanillo, Gramma province on June 27.
They stopped in Caymans to take provisions and continued for another
seven days and 350 miles towards Honduras. Their five meter wood
boat named "La Dichosa" (the Lucky One) was equipped
with two Lombardini engines. On American Independence Day, the
boat crossed the Sandy Bay channel and landed on the beach. Within
hours the Cubans were transported by the police to the Coxen Hole
While private individuals, churches and Roatan Fire Department
rushed to help the Cubans with gifts of food, clothes and shelter,
this group received less help than previous ones. Mayor Dale Jackson,
who in two previous occasions of Cubans landing on Roatan has
in one case paid for the migrants hotel and in the other for their
daily food, has not even appeared to meet with the "La Dichosa"
13. "I asked the immigration if I could visit them, but they
never answered me," said Mayor Jackson, whose ill handling
of the matter could aid in the [BRING ABOUT A] resurfacing of
accusations of his involvement in the smuggling of the Cubans
that appeared in the mainland press in March and caused a national
"Based on a meeting with Herman Espinal, the immigration
officials would contact us if they needed any help," explained
Manuel Serrano, Roatan Municipal chief of administration, on the
matter. "It was avoiding a confrontation." According
to Serrano, Roatan taxpayers spent around Lps. 85,000 for each
of the two groups of Cuban refugees that landed on the island
in the last year.
Every Cuban that landed on Roatan on July 4 had family member
who have come to Honduras on a boat. "My cousin is going
to school in Nevada," said a woman. "My brother is already
working in Miami," stated another migrant man.
Group of Veterinary Students aim their scalpels at Roatan pets
July 2, the clinic worked out of West End, then moved for two days
to Dixon Cove, on the site of BI Environmental Equipment Rental. While
the pet owners watched, four doctors assisted the veterinary students
in performing examinations and surgeries. Nidia Hernandez, from Flowers
Bay, brought her 9-month old dog Onix, a lab-mutt mix, to take advantage
of the streamlined spade procedures. "My nine cats are neutered
and I wanted take advantage of the Lps. 50 procedure," said with
a smile Hernandez.
This is the third time in two years a student veterinary group was
brought to Roatan by Dr. Fleming. While Dr. Fleming plans a move to
the island within a year, he also hopes to continue the U of Florida
According to Dr. Baird Fleming, as many as 40% of dogs on Roatan have
Ehrlichia, the brown tick born disease. Dr. Fleming estimates that
around 20% of dogs on the island suffer from heart worm and many have
various skin diseases. Particularly dogs which are brought by their
owners from cooler climates find adaptation to Roatan's weather difficult
and a cause of skin problems.
dogs lay head to paw on an operating table staffed by University of
Florida veterinary students and doctors.
first week of July was the best time to sterilize your pet companion.
Nine University of Florida veterinary students, members of CIVO club
(students for International Volunteer Opportunities), showed up on
the island for a week long visit of consultations and cultural immersion.
Their visit was coordinated by Roatan Animal Rescue (ROAR), a group
of community members working on improving lives of domesticated animals
on the island.
The students paid $1,000 each, to spade, neuter and diagnose a couple
hundred island animals. Performing around 20 surgeries a day, the
students, all members of Students for Volunteer Opportunities Club,
worked under the supervision of four veterinary doctors.
and Hospital for Roatan
Construction projects kick in high gear
Minister of Health has made a written offer to fund a hospital and
the equipment. According to Governor Arlie Thompson it is the South
Korean government that offered to fund the project for Lps. 500
million ($26.4 million) funneling the money through central government.
As a bonus, architectural plans of the Tela hospital were offered
to the Roatan Mayor free of charge.
A condition of the money coming in was the municipal finding and
purchasing an appropriate building site for the hospital. In response,
Roatan Municipal purchased 28 acres in Dixon Cove, 100 meters from
the main road and behind Vegas Electric. The site is planed to serve
also as a location for a new municipal sports stadium.
The flatter portion of the site will be used for the stadium and
parking lot, with the slopes of the nearby hills used as the base
for stadium seating. The stadium according to Mayor Dale Jackson
will have "one third of what La Ceiba stadium seating is,"
and will serve for Municipal use. La Ceiba's Nilmo Edwards stadium
can accommodate 22,000 people.
Another 5.5 acre building site in Spring Garden that the municipal
is in the process of purchasing is planned to house future Preventiva
Police, DGIC, Fiscalia, courthouse and a fire station.
site of the future Roatan stadium
For Roatan Municipal government, 2008 is beginning to look like the
busiest construction year to date. As hospital, stadium, police and
fire station are planned, the center of gravity of the island is shifting
east of Coxen Hole to Dixon Cove. The community is already home to
Galaxy terminal, planed Carnival Cruise terminal, Coral Cay conference
center and soon, a municipal stadium for 7,000 people and a 100 bed
story / editorial
for the Poor By Jenny Roberts
a Sandy Bay Pastor Offers a Gift of Water
to nurse Strangers of Clinica Esperanza, since the rains have stopped,
the Colonia health problems caused by contaminated water have risen
from by 25%. "It is just a matter of time before cholera will
be in the Colonia if the water and sewage problems are not corrected,"
says Dr. Robert Buckingham, an epidemiologist from University of
New Mexico, who recently visited the Colonia.
Pastor Chuck, partnering with Henry Zittrower, founder of Living
Water 4 Roatan, began a temporary fix for the Colonia's water problem
on May 7, hauling purified drinking water in trucks every Tuesday
and Thursday, as many as a dozen trips each day to bring about 5,000
gallons a day. Pastor Chuck says, "Our good God provided an
abundant water source from the well on Henry's land, which is the
site for the treatment system," a MIOX system that is able
to purify 330 thousand gallons of water a day for 100 lempiras per
1,000 gallons. The MIOX is the only water treatment system known
to purify even chlorine-resistant parasites by using mixed oxidants.
Pastor Chuck and Henry recently obtained permission from landowners
and ran water lines along property lines from Henry's well to the
Church of God's Prophecy in the Colonia. This emergency clean water
line, which alleviates the need to truck water, has been distributed
daily since June 12.
During the weeks of hauling water by truck, six-year-old Josue was
in the crowd already gathered and waiting under the shade of some
banana trees when Pastor Chuck's little Mitsubishi pulled up. All
sorts and sizes of empty containers waited as well. The distribution
process seemed almost quiet and reverent, with people queuing up
and helping each other, except for Josue and other little shirtless
boys who were all yelling "aqui!" to the water-gun wielding,
boyishly grinning Pastor Chuck.
Pastor Chuck and Henry Zittrower, working with mission teams and
community members, are currently moving forward on a big vision
for Josue and the rest of his community: two new wells, along with
Henry's existing well, all connected to a new pump booster station
and an 60,000 gallon water tank above Policarpo, complete with distribution
mainlines, valves, fitting meters and meter boxes
cups of cold water.
Residents of Policarpo Galindo gathering water.
While rewards might be few and far between when you're washing another
pot in the kitchen or digging another waterline trench, the people
of Son Rise Calvary Church and Mission Hotel keep handing out cups
of cold water, whether in the "soup kitchen" line on Sundays,
on the volleyball court out back, or from the back of a truck in the
Pastor Chuck Laird, who before coming to Roatan owned a small water
treatment company in California, is mostly quiet and soft-spoken (even
when he's preaching). He's more a man of action, especially on behalf
of the residents of Clinica Policarpo Galindo Colonia, where the families
of over 400 homes have been without well water for over eight months.
He relates with a burdened heart what he's seen there.
"When their wells went dry, they started digging into the gray
water ditches to get water for cooking, cleaning, bathing and drinking.
Tiny children, as small as Carlton (his two year old), wrap their
entire bodies around these five-gallon water jugs to haul them five
or ten steps up, then rest. Then do it again another five or ten more
steps, and again and again, until they make it up to their homes
jugs full of parasite-infested ditch water."