Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Adult Education at AFE

By Paul Sloan

One month ago, AFE started an adult education course for the adults of the garbage dump. From 3 to 5 P.M., Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, adults come to AFE’s campus to receive classes. Currently, we have students receiving classes from 1st through 5th grade. Paul Sloan teaches 1st grade, which consists of 5 to 6 students per class period, and Oscar (a young man from the Linda Miller community) teaches 2nd through 5th grade, which also consists of 5 to 6 students per class. They instruct in all the basics, from the alphabet and reading and writing, to counting and mathematics.

One woman in particular is excelling in reading and writing. Almost 4 weeks ago, Marcia Gomez Lopez came to AFE not knowing the alphabet or how to read and write. Currently, every class period she is reciting the alphabet and reading aloud perfectly. She is 51 years old, lives in Buen Samaritano, and is a single mother with 4 children. Two of her children, Victor (15) and Brian (9) attend the classes with her. She has been living in the Buen Samaritano community for 2 years, and working in the dump for approximately 3 years.
When asked why she started coming to classes, she said with a smile, “Just to learn.” At age 51, not being able to read or write or do any sort of math, she is now reading and studying on her own time, doing homework with math problems and writing assignments. She is learning quickly and loves coming and participating in the class. It is people such as Marcia Lopez that AFE is trying to reach out too. She is a living example that God’s work does not stop with the children at the dump, but that His heart is for every one, and that every single person has a purpose, and His hand reaches out to all of them.
Addendum from Elise White Diaz:

Why provide an education for an older adult who will have a small chance of changing her circumstances? Education creates more than just new job opportunities. It also provides self-esteem, identity, and the ability to see beyond one's circumstances and glimpse the possibilities in the larger world. Who knows what effect education will have in the life of Marcia Gomez Lopez. Let's pray and see!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Daisy Accepts Christ!

To all who faithfully follow AFE's blog, thank you for your prayers! The week after we posted the story about Danilo, Isis, and Dulce Maria ("New Babies Come to AFE"), their mother, Daisy, came to church and accepted Christ!

A Lesson from Mexico History for AFE Today

by Elise White Diaz

Teaching Honduran history is a fascinating venture; especially with Wikipedia around. I can spend all day researching different names and tangents discovered in the text: Honduras’ annexation to Mexico, the Vanderbilt connection with a Central American revolt, an American businessman who declared himself president of Nicaragua….And it was on one of these internet searches that I learned about Benito Juarez.

Benito Juarez is a famous forefather in Mexico history. But his story is strikingly applicable to my life today. Benito Juarez was the first Mexican president of pure indigenous descent. He grew up in a small village working the corn fields from a young age, and was raised by his grandparents and uncle. He grew up illiterate and only spoke Zapotec until he walked to the city of Oaxaca to attend school at the age of 12 and live with his sister, who worked as a maid. This decision turned out to be a divine appointment in Benito Juarez’s life.

The man his sister worked for was a lay Franciscan named Antonia Salanueva. Salanueva was impressed with young Benito’s intelligence and thirst for learning so he found him a spot at a Franciscan seminary so that he could study to become a priest. But God had different plans for Benito Juarez.

Juarez decided instead to study law, became a lawyer, then a judge, then the governor of the state of Oaxaca, then Chief Justice of Mexico, and finally president in 1858, the first indigenous president of Mexico. He presided over a period of Mexican history known as “La Reforma” (the Reform) and facilitated important changes in the country, such as bringing the army under civilian country, lessening the power of the Roman Catholic Church in public affairs, and leading Mexico into a more capitalistic society. Today he is remembered by the national holiday to celebrate his impact on Mexico and with his picture on their 20 pesos bill.

Great story. What does this have to do with me, an American woman serving in Honduras? I am Antonio Salanueva! The children of AFE are beautiful and brilliant and now something precious is at their disposal: opportunity. Who will take the baton and run with it?
Perhaps it will be Maria Selena Diaz. The initiative, drive, and profundity this young woman demonstrates is at odds with her background. She has never known her father and her mother (a garbage dump worker) abandoned her at birth. Her grandmother (who also works in recycling) raised her until she could not afford to do so any longer. With no one else to claim her, Selena moved in with her aunt and experienced a very dark time in her life. But AFE was there for her, Jesi Ordonez had meaningful talks with her, and the church convinced Selena that we are her family. Now Selena is known as the most articulate girl in the upper grades and gave a moving testimony at a donor celebration. She tries hard in school, is perfectionistic about her work, and asks deep questions in class. The other day I told Selena: “Selena, you could be the first female president of Honduras and make Honduras known world-wide for positive political reform instead of coup d’├ętats and poverty.” And I truly believe that she could.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Babies Come to AFE

They toddle in and wait in line for a hug and a kiss from Jessy, the directora. The come with snotty noses and carrying bags of coca cola, which is quickly snatched away and a bottle of milk put in its place. These are the babies of AFE, who play quietly and sweetly, until snacks emerge; then searching eyes and outstretched hands wait patiently. Rarely is a tear shed, never a fuss made; they are content in their brightly painted room, with their brothers and sisters, and the kind women who take care of their every need. These are the future students of AFE.

If they were not here, in the comfortable cribs of AFE’s nursery, they would be stored in cardboard boxes in the garbage dumps or cared for by nine-year olds in garbage-strewn shacks.

Recently, three new charges joined the ranks in the Guaderia, making the total number of babies cared for at AFE nine. Jose Dario, Dulce Maria, and Iris are younger siblings of a kindergartener at AFE, and only God knows their ages. Their mother, who works in the garbage dump all day, every day, gave birth to her children in her home. As soon as it was physically possible, she had another baby. And then another. She couldn’t care for them all. A nine-year old, who looks like a six-year old, babysat all three. They would lie on a bed together instead of learning to crawl because the child couldn’t hold all three.

Since these children were not born in a hospital there is no record of their birth. Neither is there a record of their mother’s birth. The world does not know about them, but God does. And God created them for a purpose. Now that the three babies are at AFE receiving milk and nutritious, age-appropriate foods, they have the chance for a normal life. And AFE accepted them with the stipulation that the mother would take precautions to avoid giving birth to more children than she can handle. They are being immunized and receiving proper sleep and care. Who knows what these children will become or how God will use them! Perhaps, they will become influencers and leaders in Honduran society, righting many of the wrongs we see today.

Monday, October 4, 2010

AFE Celebrates Our Partners

by Greg and Nancy Gibson

On September 16th - 18th, AFE held a three-day thank you celebration for our top supporting organizations. The theme for the celebration was "AFE Evolutions." A child from each grade (Kindergarten through Tenth) represented their classes and showed the growth and development which takes place from kindergarten to the tenth grade. We reminisced about AFE’s past, toured and discussed our current work, and dreamed about what the future might hold.

Thursday night was "noche cultural," in which everyone dressed in typical Honduran clothing and the food was typical Honduran, American, and British food (or at least a Honduran version of American & British food). The topic of discussion was AFE’s past, remembering what happened since Hurricane Mitch in 1998, Pastor Jeony's call in 2001 (the voice of God speaking through his five-year old daughter), AFE's commencement in 2001, and everything that God has done since then.
On Friday, we spent the day touring the AFE campus and listening to the children introduce their classroom and tell AFE's stores.

We also visited the nearby communities where AFE's children live, the Linda Miller community & Amor y Vida church, which supports AFE, and the garbage dump itself. The theme for the day was AFE 2010.

Friday night continued with a big "thank you"celebration for our partners and Pastor Jeony's inspiring message: "God Has Not Forgotten."

Pastor Tim and Jackie White, senior pastors of Washington Cathedral in Redmond, WA.

Duncan Dyason,
founder of Street Kids Direct in the UK.

Jack and Pat O'Neil
of Hope Teams International in Portland, OR.

Paul Sloan represented Orphan Outreach in Texas.

Terry Hawk of World Gospel Mission

Pastor Jorge Pinto (not picture here) and family represented Iglesia Amor y Vida in the Bosque neighborhood and Proyecto Manuelito.
Thank you to everyone who worked hard to make this great event possible!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meet Our New Volunteers

Paul Sloan is a recent graduate from Baylor University in Texas. Orphan Outreach sent him to use his sharp mind and love for children to serve the students of AFE. Paul teaches English classes, helps with adult education in the afternoons, and supports mission teams when they visit. When asked what she appreciates most about Paul, AFE’s director, Jesy remarked, “Paul is so easygoing. He is willing to do whatever is needed and always has a good attitude!” After his year of service, Paul will continue his schooling in graduate school in the United States.

Johanna Novoa is a short-term missionary sent with the Mennonite Committee’s international exchange program. She is from Bogota, Colombia and studied business administration and theology in her undergraduate education. She is excited to use her knowledge to help build up AFE’s microbusinesses and to serve the poor in another part of the world. She will also help AFE with accounting and the Amor y Vida’s youth group.

Leah Kooy, is a 26 year old teacher who has already served two years teaching at the International School in Tegucigalpa. She is originally from Linden, Washington and came to Honduras because she wanted to use her talents to serve the poor. She is able to do so at AFE, where she offers special attention to students who learn at a slower pace. Leah especially enjoys this work for how fulfilling it is. In November she will marry a man she met here in Honduras and then likely move back to the States with him to continue her teaching career.