Buckner Opens New Centers in Tegucigalpa, Roatan
By Jenny Pope
Watch video about Buckner Honduras director
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Scattered along the river banks of Flor del Campo, women and children cram into tiny, corrugated tin cottages. It’s the only land they can afford to live on, at least until the river swells and they’re forced to move to higher ground.
“The men go to the seashore to collect sand to sell to construction workers; most of the women sell tortillas,” said Karen Medina, Buckner social worker at the new Community Transformation Center in Flor del Campo. “They are very poor, and there is a lot of violence.
[caption id="attachment_2624" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Buckner Honduras director Yaneth Contreras conducts media interviews at the CTC opening. "][/caption]
The new Community Transformation Center will provide a centralized location for community services in Flor del Campo, an impoverished neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. In addition to organized sports, computer and English classes, licensed social workers are developing life maps for families in the area. They have already visited 30 families in their homes, Medina said.
“We went to one very small, little box house with 20 people living in it,” she continued. “There was an elderly lady who was not being attended to and kids who were not being fed properly. They had an attitude of hopelessness. If we don’t change the attitudes, we can’t change the community. This is why we’re here.”
Hundreds of families gathered July 7 to celebrate the opening of the new center in Tegucigalpa, which included performances from the national folklorico and marimba band and four national TV stations.
[caption id="attachment_2625" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Dr. Albert Reyes, Buckner International president, places a pair of new shoes on a child's feet. "][/caption]
Vice Minister of Health Javier Pastor attended the celebration and affirmed Buckner’s approach at creating sustainable community programs in Honduras.
“By working to improve conditions on the micro level, the whole neighborhood can improve,” Pastor said. “There are a lot of needs – education, jobs, health. Our system is outdated. We are trying to change our approach to make it more purposeful.”
Part of that approach includes partnering with creditable NGOs, like Buckner, who can provide services for children and families while monitoring the effectiveness of the programs, he said.
“The partnership with the community makes is sustainable. By coming to the neighborhood, they have a sense of belonging – it’s theirs. We really appreciate your involvement.”
[caption id="attachment_2626" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="The new Community Transformation Center in Roatan is centrally located to provide services to many of the islands most needy people. "][/caption]
Buckner opened a second Community Transformation Center July 8 on the island of Roatan, Honduras, with more national media attention and hundreds of islanders in attendance. The center will provide day and night care for children while their mothers attend school. It will also offer English and computer classes to improve education levels.
At the ceremony, Buckner signed an official agreement with Roatan Mayor Julio Galindo, who has donated the use of the building rent free for three years. Galindo said they are facing some serious problems in Roatan due to the migration of hundreds of people to the island following Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
“People are without education, looking for jobs. They don’t have sewer, potable water, roads. Some are living like squatters,” he said. “It’s beyond the capability of the municipality; we don’t have the means to help.”
When Buckner approached Galindo in April about their plans to help the community, Galindo said he started researching the organization.
[caption id="attachment_2627" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Buckner president Albert Reyes shakes hands with Roatan mayor Julio Galindo. Galindo has provided the building for the new CTC rent free for three years. "][/caption]
“I looked at the legal status of the organization and found out nothing but good things. I knew that they could do a lot to help. Hopefully I can continue helping them, too,” he said.
Buckner International President Albert Reyes attended both CTC openings and said they were some of the best celebrations he’s been a part of since elected as president in January.
“What Honduras is doing is a model for all of Buckner,” he said. “What I’ve seen around the world is NGOs who do their own services – health, water wells, food. That’s the specialty of the group and so they do this one thing and then they leave. We’re trying to bring a better solution to prevent separation of families. The CTCs have the ability to truly transform communities, and that’s what we’re all about.”
Learn more about Buckner Honduras at www.bucknerhonduras.hn. To help support Buckner CTCs, please call Buckner Foundation at 214-758-8050.
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