The Gilmour Academy alumni, parents and teachers from the Cleveland, Ohio area.
In August, Pat and Carrie met up with an alumni group from Carrie’s high school, Gilmour Academy, in Honduras. Twice a year a group from Gilmour visits and performs volunteer work at the Nuevo Paraiso Project which is a part of the Sociedad Amigos de los Ninos.
Sociedad Amigos de los Ninos provides many services for the needy including an orphanage, housing, schools, clinic, home for children with AIDS, and a couple of small businesses. It was a very impressive community built with donations and volunteer efforts.
On our way from Tegucigalpa, the tongue-twisting capital of Honduras, to Nuevo Paraiso we visited the orphanage built and run by Sociedad Amigos de los Ninos. Many of the alumni were making their 3rd or 4th visit and were immediately swarmed by the kids that recognized them.
Considering the tough start to these kids’ lives, they were full of energy and quick with a smile — especially at ice cream time!
It wasn’t all fun and playing with the kids, the group pitched in with some of the back-breaking physical labor. One effort focused on clearing debris from around a house and pouring a sidewalk.
Here are some alum preparing a batch of cement. No cement mixer here.
Pouring the cement for a sidewalk. Hot, sweaty work!
Some of the other volunteer efforts included sanding and painting the brick and cement buildings, digging a huge hole for a cistern and wiring a building (more on that in a bit). One of the teachers tutored local boys in English.
During the week that we were there, the group toured the different facilities of the project. There were separate high school, grade school and kindergarten buildings. The project has done a first-rate job with all of them. The grade school even had a computer room!
A few small businesses were being started in an effort to teach business skills and to provide some revenue. The project had a brick factory that produced all of the bricks for the Nuevo Paraiso structures and some to sell to others. Other initiatives included; a bakery, a fried plantain store and a beauty salon.
The brick factory
There were also separate campuses for children with AIDS and teenage boys. We toured the facility for the kids with AIDS and were again impressed with the facility and the staff. Unfortunately, we left for Nicaragua before seeing the facility for teenage boys. From what we understand, it is a working farm and is well on its way to being able to provide a large percentage of its own food.
So you are probably wondering if Pat and Carrie actually did any work, aren’t you? Well, as it turns out, Nuevo Paraiso was just waiting for someone to come along who could wire a building for food storage and laundry. We figured it would keep us out of the hot sun, we wouldn’t get paint on our clothes and we probably wouldn’t have to mix cement by hand, so we told them we could do it.
We had a great team that included house-wiring veteran, Tom, and the intuitive and hard-working Megan. Jorge, the community handyman, also helped but was called away to fix other things whenever the camera was out! Here we are testing the wiring before the main power was run to the building. Sure glad it didn’t blow up!
Pat running wire for the outdoor lights.
Megan wiring a light switch.
On Sunday the group visited the Basilica de Suyapa for mass.
Every evening after a shower and dinner, many of the rowdier bunch could be found playing Scrabble or cards in the gazebo.