In the last four years, Dos Rios Elementary, a Greeley-Evans School, has been providing supplies for students and teachers in four schools in Tela, Honduras. In summer 2017, a group of teachers and one Rotarian left for Honduras to work in the Lancetilla Botanical Gardens and to assist local workers with classroom modifications. The classroom addition was made possible through funds provided by members of the Greeley Centennial Rotary, Craig Rotary and the Greeley After Hours Rotary Clubs. The Josefa Lastiri Morazan School is located adjacent to the botanical garden. This school serves 75 students grades K-5 and 45 secondary students grades 6-9 on weekends. The second school is Escuela Lempira, located about a 30 minutes hike from the botanical garden. This school serves 45 students grades K-5. The third school in our project is Escuela Jose Trinidad Cabañas located about 25 minutes from the botanical garden. This school serves 45 students grades K-5. The fourth school is the Escuela Santos Juan Moncada that serves 35 students grades k-5.
While visiting with the local people during the recent summer trip, the Rotarian and teachers recognized that school uniforms are a significant area of need for the students. Uniforms are required for all students to attend school. If students attend school without school uniforms, teachers risk losing their jobs. We observed many families who could not afford uniforms, and thus, their children were denied the opportunity to attend these public, government-operated schools. Many additional children have uniforms that are in disrepair and need mending or alterations. The population of these four schools is growing and many families cannot afford to send their students to school because they cannot afford uniforms or school supplies. Many of these students walk 25-30 minutes to get to school each day.
The purpose of these requested grant funds is to build a modest educational building on the site of the centrally located Josefa Lastiri Morazan School to provide an adult teacher center and to securely house the sewing equipment. A vocational sewing center will provide opportunities to empower families to learn the skill of sewing to make new uniforms and reparations to existing uniforms. Having the proper facility in which to centrally teach sewing groups and to sew will be essential to the sustainability of this project. Additionally, the sewing center will provide opportunities for community members and parents to leverage their new skills for economic gain with future projects.
We will also work on outreach with the Honduras Rotary clubs in Tela and La Ceiba to build future partnerships. We are planning another working trip in the coming year and may include additional Rotarians from the Greeley and Craig areas. The intent is to make contact with the two Rotary clubs close to the schools in Honduras to foster relationships and ensure the sustainability of the vocational project.
At a minimum within the first year, the project will benefit about 30 families in the area of Lancetilla Botanical Garden. Family and community members will also benefit by having shared use of the community resources for after-school events and community gatherings. This project will support educational opportunities for approximately 80 students who are currently attending the botanical garden schools. The facility will provide a learning and working space. It will also establish a dynamic space for future vocational initiatives in these communities for years to come.
Dos Rios Elementary School, located in Evans, Colorado, initiated outreach efforts to the first school in the botanical gardens in 2013. This included sending medical supplies, school supplies, kitchen serving utensils, clothing and shoes. During the initial visit, two teachers from Dos Rios traveled to the schools to present the teachers and students with supplies and to engage the local community in a partnership. A needs assessment was also conducted at this time to evaluate future opportunities for improvement. Since that time, we have sent additional supplies (school supplies, clothing and shoes) each year. The Dos Rios staff has engaged the local parent and student community in fundraising efforts to ship three boxes of supplies annually (about 1,500 pounds of materials). We also sought to engage our Dos Rios learners to increase awareness for the needs of the Honduran schools and broaden our students' world view to be more globally minded about the needs of other children in the world. In June 2017, Dos Rios staff, which included a Greeley Centennial Rotarian, travelled together to the three schools to build a classroom addition to one of the schools, paint, and create a sustainable garden project to increase the nutritional content of their daily meals. In 2017-2018, additional Rotary projects in this area of Honduras have included furniture, clean stoves, electric and solar projects at all four schools.
As our local Rotary clubs have increased their awareness of the wants and needs of the Honduran schools, we have increased our collective interest in supporting our collaborative efforts to establish a working relationship with the local Honduras Rotary clubs for the future. Contact was made in spring 2018, thanks to the support of Jim Epstein.