Five Emmetsburg Rotary members took a memorable trip in mid-April. The trip was part of the group's ongoing support of a school in Honduras. Members Audrey Baatz, Deb Kibbie, Doug Green, Tim McCain and Dave Rouse along with Doug Green's wife Carolina and son Matthew traveled to Azacualpa, Honduras April 9 20 and stayed with Carolina's sister Suyapa and her niece Karlin. Suyapa is one of the teachers in the school.
The Emmetsburg Rotary Club has been supporting the school from afar for a number of years. It was through member Doug Green's connection to the school that the organization began making donations. Prior to the trip this year, the Rotarians provided funding to establish a computer room and the labor to construct additional modern bathrooms. They also donated used clothing as well as the money to purchase school uniforms.
In January the group made the decision to make the trip. When speaking about the decision to take the missions trip, Doug Green said he felt it was important that members see the needs of the school.
MISSION TRIP-Emmetsburg Rotary members Doug Green, Deb Kibbe, Tim McCain, Dave Rouse and Audrey Baatz recently traveled to Honduras. While there they delivered supplies to a school. The group is pictured in the computer room of the school that the Rotary Club’s donation helped to create. The group was surprised to see the Rotary Club logo displayed on the school wall. --submitted photo
" We thought taking the trip would give the club feed back about where their money goes as well as provide ideas for future plans," said Green.
For the next two months, Carolina worked with the travelers, immersing them in the Honduran culture. She taught them Spanish, informed to them about the logistics of the trip and talked to them about what they could expect.
Also as part of their trip preparation, the Rotary Club gathered donations from the Emmetsburg area residents and businesses. Donated items included toothbrushes, caps, necklaces, playing cards, underwear, coozies, ink pens, pencils, note pads, paper, t-shirts, sweatshirts, soccer balls, bags, games, Frisbees as well as used clothing.
A number of people made monetary donations and the Rotary Group itself donated sufficient cash to purchase the entire school uniform for 20 students as well as uniform parts for an additional 50 students.
Tim McCain explained they learned of students who would not attend school because they didn't have a uniform. Uniforms consist of blue pants or skirts, white shirt, white socks and shoes. The teachers and school principal purchased the uniforms with the fund provided. Green said the cost to completely uniform a student is $30.
"To get the correct shoe size for the students, the adults traced around the child's foot," said Deb Kibbie.
With 22 fully packed suitcases, the Rotarians set off for the city of Azacualpa. When their arrival, the 407 students and 13 staff warmly greeted the group. Holding blue balloons, the children formed two lines and the members walked between the students. A ceremony was held that included the displaying of both the United States flag and the Honduran flag.
"Our welcome was awesome," said Deb Kibbe. Agreeing with Kibbe, Audrey Baatz said their reception was overwhelming.
In addition to the welcoming ceremony, the teachers hosted a BBQ for the Rotary members. Festivities included breaking a piata. The staff also accompanied the group on a side trip to Copan, the site of Mayan Ruins.
In reflecting on the trip, Tim McCain said he was impressed by how happy and grateful the children were. "A trip like this makes you see what life is really all about. It makes you take a look at all the things we take for granted."
Green added, "We got as much out of it as the kids did."
When asked about the plans for the future, Green said they have asked the principal to put together a list of priorities for the school. In the meantime, the group plans to put together a program about their trip and their Facebook page has a number of trip pictures posted.