Collaborative empowerment for sustainable health and well-being
May 2015 Newsletter
The Tree of Sustainable Development
This tree grows in the front yard of Professor Iris
Villanueva’s home in Camasca. This species does not grow upright, rather its
trunk snakes along the ground with its branches shooting out all
over. Many years ago Iris and her husband Julio, mayor of Camasca, faced a
choice. Cut down the tree
and plant another, or prop it up. Rather than killing off a beautiful
tree, they chose the second option. Today, the tree grows strong,
providing an abundance of shade, nesting, and beauty. A few cinder blocks
and home-made crutches give this tree a permanent place and purpose.
The tree is a
metaphor for sustainable development. There is a collaborative effort, a mutual
respect, and a long-term commitment. The family enjoys its shade and beauty and
marvels to see it thrive. The tree grows proudly, having found dignity in its
relationship and service to the family. The supports remain after many
years. But the tree's growth has dwarfed them to the point that they are
almost unrecognizable. Someday, when the family has moved on, the supports will
fail. The tree, however, will still grow; its integral beauty a testament to
the sincerity of the family’s charity.
The Growth of the Tree: Health Care Convenio
The inaugural celebration of
the extension of StoS’s Health Care agreement with the Honduran Ministry of
Health on Tuesday, April 28, 2015 in Camasca, Intibucá was quite an event. Officials from the Ministry of Health, mayors
and/or their representatives, our CEO, key staff from Shoulder to Shoulder, and a plethora of
health care professionals were all present. Literally overnight, our health care reach and responsibility has
and Colomoncagua are now included in our system, stretching coverage from Yamaranguila south to El Salvador, from 37,000 to 69,000
persons. Two major clinics in Camasca and Colomoncagua, a birthing
center, and three satellite clinics have been
assumed in StoS’s health system. Four doctors, six health promoters, three
professional nurses, two dentists, two lab technicians, and 16 auxiliary nurses
have joined our health personnel.
Our mission, “To work
together with our communities to create, implement, and operate equitable
accessible, sustainable health, nutrition, and educational services,” is thriving. Why we are
expanding when our budget is
tight and our resources thin? Our
mission is organic, not static. The tree continues to grow. But don’t worry -- nature always finds a
way. This tree grew from a tiny
sapling. She endured droughts and
tempests, yet stands noble. She pulls nutrients from the soil; the soil
of our partnerships and commitments. But
she gives back by sharing her life with us, yielding health, well-being, and
empowerment for all who rest under her shade.
Branches: The Good Shepherd Bilingual School
Laura and I generally travel once a week to The Good Shepherd Bilingual
School. We hop on Wilson’s van in the center of town at 7:15 AM. Wilson is
the father of Emily, a first-grader at the school. Wilson picks up another
seven children in the town and another four more along the way. On our ride, we
sing songs and play games in English. The children’s happiness, confidence, and
sense of self-esteem are apparent and contagious, a testament an educational
experience of excellence. Unfortunately, it is quite rare in Honduras. These
children’s experience, however, may just be the opportunity to change that
Perhaps we never envisioned how extensive our involvement in education
would become when Shoulder to Shoulder began. But now, in hindsight,
we realize how critical this mission is. Education that nurtures the brain,
heart, and body is essential to individual and communal development. In
committing ourselves to working shoulder to shoulder with the people of
southern Intibucá, it was inevitable that this branch would sprout.
The school is public, fully accessible, a partnership between StoS, the
Honduran Ministry of Education, and the municipalities of the surrounding area.
This is unique in all of Honduras, a model of education that offers hope to a
system that, quite frankly, has had little success. It presents difficult challenges,
this working shoulder to shoulder. But opportunity is born from challenge.
We are also building. Thanks to the community of the Good Shepherd Church
in Cincinnati and other generous donors, a new state-of-the-art building and
three new classrooms will shortly be added to our campus. Our branch into
education is extending, providing nesting space for children and coming
Deep, Healthy Roots: Brigades
Shoulder to Shoulder was founded in the modest
outreach of university brigades who offered medical service and health care to
persons who had little to none. This seed germinated and grew roots. Unfortunately, our brigade
work has been severely challenged in recent years. As security concerns heightened in Honduras
and the US State Department issued a travel warning, universities reasonably became
cautious about sending their students and staff to Hondurans. We lost many brigades. But despite this, brigades are returning. While the US travel warning is still in effect, its degree has lessened
as indicators of violence have been reduced in Honduras. Universities, other groups and associations,
and individuals of good will see the need in Honduras and are responding
Brigades, like roots, secure our mission in
Honduras. Our vitality depends on deep,
healthy roots. We are revitalizing our service to brigades. A newly formed Brigade Team in
Honduras has set ambitious goals, but we are confident that we can meet
them all. A meaningful brigade experience, coordinated with our ongoing missions, will be of maximum service to those in need. The brigade experience will be reasonably
priced. The number and scope of brigades will be increased. In addition to continuing medical brigades, we will search out partner groups and organizations in the areas of education,
social service, and construction, to name a few. The increased quality of our brigades, and
the widening of their reach, will strengthen our roots, drawing greater
nutrients for the growth of our tree.
You have the time, if you make the time. Being a long-term volunteer will enrich your life beyond your imagination.
Click on the image above to learn more about volunteer opportunities.
Click the photo above to financially support our Convenio
Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world.
- Nelson Mandela
Educate a Child -- Save the World!
Our campaign to raise $12,000 by the end of this year.
teenage girls to learn life and vocational skills, grow in self-esteem, and
make decisions that open up doors to success.
Click the photo above to financially support our Convenio
young person continue his/her education beyond the sixth grade. Without your
compassionate response and assistance, the cycle of poverty remains unbroken.
Click the photo above to donate to the the Scholarship Program or
Join an existing brigade. Create a brigade.
Click on the image above to learn more about brigades.
Your Donation is Absolutely Necessary and Appreciated!
We really do work shoulder to shoulder. If we didn't work alongside the people in Honduras, our mission would become irrelevant. If people cannot find a sense of dignity and liberation in caring relationships, then charity becomes as enslaving and dehumanizing as poverty and oppression. Our mission is not simply to give, it is to honor. That is what it means to be shoulder to shoulder: equal, committed together, journeying, in partnership. That is what we ask of you. It is not your money we are looking for. We want your heart. We want you committed in a relationship of enrichment, empowerment, and liberation. Enrich and be enriched, empower, and be empowered, liberate, and be liberated. We depend on you as one would depend upon a shoulder. We respectfully invite you to be part of our ongoing journey.
Ways to Honor:
Educate a Child -- Change the World!
Make a tax deductible donation on
send your contribution to
Shoulder to Shoulder
Pohlman and Talmage CPAs
3445 S. Dixie Dr. # 200
Dayton, OH 45439
Keep us in your mind and heart.