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Honduras visits (part 2)

December 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Families surrounding the truck outside of Copan

I woke up Thursday morning and headed into more villages surrounding Copan.  The povery is staggering in this region. The children usually only have one set of clothing, and are very dirty in appearance.

I accompanied Ellen, and we passed out clothes, rice, flour and candy to the villagers.  Some of the children were naked, and were clothed through the second hand clothing they received.  Local shops within the region also benefited through the sale of these clothes.  All that was given out were the leftovers from Christmas baskets that Ellen had given out a few days earlier.

I stood in the back of the truck with a local teacher, and had a fairly comprehensive talk with him.  He outlined the problems within the village, and how there was only one child who was in grade 6 this year.  The schools were being renovated, and fixed up, but other problems existed.

The families were severely malnourished.  Many families had problems with children not eating properly, and

Dennis and his two sisters.

The families were severely malnourished.  Many families had problems with children not eating properly, and there was a high incidence of child mortality at birth, along with pregnant mothers dying during childbirth.  This is a function of the villages being in the middle of nowhere.

The picture to the right shows Ellen Finn with Dennis and his two sisters.  Dennis was very happy, and showed us the school, and showed us where he sat.  His youngest sister died recently from starvation.  – unbelieveable to fathom coming from Canada.

Ellen stepped in to help families after hearing of this.  She is also starting a project for the students and community to learn other trades (other then farming).  They will build a chicken coop and have the 7th graders learn how to raise chickens and business skills involving selling and trading poultry and eggs.  This will be a big boost to the local economy, and also boost the nutrition levels of the community.

When leaving Copan, I bought a chicken for the community.  It was the only gift that I bought someone for Christmas this year, other then coffee for my family.  Hopefully this gift will help the community in the coming years.

Categories: Random Travelling

School Visits in Honduras

December 23, 2010 4 comments

Ellen Finn with a group of people from a village outside of Copan, Honduras

I am on my way to Guatemala City for Christmas to meet some friends.  A few weeks ago, I was doing a websearch, and came upon an organisation called Project School Supplies.  It is run by a lady named Ellen Finn from the States.

You can check out her story on the weblink above.  It is very interesting, as she was in Honduras a few years ago for a Spanish course, and fell in love with the country.  She returned home to get rid of all of her belongings and moved to Honduras.  When she returned she noticed the poor state of education and schools, and decided she wanted to make a difference.  She has been in Copan ever since.

I read her story online, and was immediately drawn to learn more about her and the work she is doing in Honduras.  I emailed her a few weeks ago, as I was heading through Honduras to Guatemala.  She immediately came back to me, and told me that she would be happy to meet with me and that it would be great to brainstorm.

I met up with Ellen yesterday, and we chatted over breakfast.  It turns out we have a lot in common, and it was great to meet someone who was working towards the same goals as I was.  The main difference is that her organisation does not have as much support as SchoolBOX.  It is basically a two person team, and they rely primarily on individual donations. They also operate out of a smaller area than SchoolBOX, as they basically help the communities that are scattered around Copan.  They also have a wider spread of services offered to the community.

Children who received christmas presents outside of Copan

She invited me to join her as we toured the community in which she has built schools.  She asked me to help her deliver Christmas gifts to the community.  The gifts consisted of necklaces for the girls, fruit chews for the boys, and small packages of rice for families.

As we drove through these remote villages, I could see the poverty.  There was no running water, and the children were wearing tattered clothes.  Some were not wearing anything at all.  You could tell by looking at the children that they were malnourished.  She seemed to know many of the people by name, and they all knew who she was.  The families were so happy about the gifts that they got.  These were most likely the only gifts they had received in a long time.  Happinness does not cost a lot.

The schools that Project School Supplies and the donors built were incredible Read more…

Categories: Random Travelling

The guide to Managua Taxis and Flash Kidnappings (avoidance)…

December 17, 2010 5 comments
The typical taxi in Managua

Even before I left for Nicaragua, I had heard stories about the taxis in Managua.  Taxis outside of the capital, in Nicaragua are generally safe, and I have not heard many stories of any issues.  Taxi cabs in Managua have a horrible reputation for robberies and kidnappings.  Although nothing has happened to me as of yet, I have received many pieces of advice on how to proceed with taxi cabs in Managua.  I have passed on many pieces of advice to other travellers as well.

The dangers lie in being picked up by a taxi, and others jumping in and being kidnapped.  The driver is usually in on the action.  The robbers basically get your bank card, or credit card, and drive you around to different ATMs (ABM in Canadian speak) and empty our your account until you have hit your daily limit.  They then dump you off in an area of town far away from where you were picked up.  I have even heard of the robbers giving you enough for the taxi fare back to your point of departure.  Very friendly robbers here.
Note that within any big city, there are dangers.  I believe that if you are informed, you can at least minimize the chances that something will happen to you.  Here are bits of advice to avoid robbery or flash kidnappings in Managua that I have collected from Read more…

Backpacking through Iran

November 1, 2010 8 comments

The last 4 months has been a complete blur.  In July, I went to Rockwerchter in Leuven, Prague for a weekend, then backpacked for 16 days through Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia (only Dubrovnik) and Bosnia.  In August, I went for a wedding in Ireland, and finished off my last month at work in Belgium.  The day after my last work day, I was on a flight for Iran, and I travelled through Iran for 24 days.  I then got back to Belgium, and packed everything up in 6 days, and headed for Ottawa, where I was seeing and meeting friends daily.

It is only now that I am making the time to recount my thoughts on this amazing country.  Most people develop their view of Iran from Western media, or through preconceived notions.  My experiences in Iran definitely differ from popular opinion and views in the Western world.

I had decided to go to Iran after many conversations with fellow travellers.  Everyone who has been there cannot stop talking about this country.  People go on about the natural beauty, the history, the good value for money, and the lack of Western tourists.  The thought that is shared by all travellers to Iran is that the Iranis are most likely the nicest people you will ever meet.  It is mind boggling how friendly, selfless everyone I met was.

Several stories come to mind (I will leave names tied to cities out):

  • the family whom I met in Esfahan, who invited me up to a mountain village to stay with them after meeting them for 5 minutes.  I took the 7 hour bus ride to meet them, and stayed for two nights.  I enjoyed the home cooked meals, hospitality, home brewed vodka, and fresh chicken kebab.  I hiked through the mountains with a friend, and had one of my best days ever.  Returning to the house, I had my laundry done (after 2 weeks, it was long overdue), and a rest.  When I woke up, I realised that the family dog had taken my shoes and run off into the mountains.  The shoe was located the next day.
  • the friends I met in Yazd, whom I spent countless nights chatting, and smoking the water pipe (flavoured tobacco).  The nights never ended before 4am.  The next morning was always rough, especially if I had plans.
  • the family that let me stay with them in Tehran.  The conversations and interaction I had with them was just amazing.  Simply great people

I figured I would list the highlights of my trip.

Most impressive mosque:  Imman mosque in Esfahan.  Simply gorgeous that I went back a second time.  You can get lost in your thoughts there.

Imman Mosque in Esfahan, Iran

Imman Mosque in Esfahan, Iran

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
 
 
 
Categories: Random Travelling
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