Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Honduras: A perfect day!

Today's distribution was seamless. Irene was ready with the camera, Valerie and Sheila were ready with the children, Ken and Jim were ready with the bedkits and Theresa was on interview duty. With the help of ever present Rotarians, led bt Fidel, and the First Ladies Healthy School program representatives the distribution of 544 bedkits to 544 very happy, appreciative children took place in 2 hours and 54 minutes. That's one bed kit every 20 seconds!

During her interviews Theresa found that one 9 year old was still sleeping in her crib. How happy can you imagine that receiving the SCAW bedkit made that little girl?

One of the benefits of sourcing the components of the bedkit in the country of distribution is the employment that it creates. Today we were introduced to a cottage industry employing 16 local women. The women first complete a sewing training program for 6 months. They are then employed in a small enterprise that completes custom sewing jobs. The quality of the work was substantially better than mass produced low end product and pricing appeared to be extremely competitive. In a country with high unemployment this training and redeployment of idle resources is a significant event. It creates much needed income opportunities for low skilled, inner city families and helps give them hope.

As part of the Honduran procurement process, Theresa and SCAW in conjunction with the local Rotarians will investigate if there is an opportunity to use this fledgling industry. There may be an opportunity to have them manufacture some of components in the bedkit.

Another beautiful day working with beautiful children as we think about everyone at home dealing with Sandy.

Ken Teslia for Team Honduras 2012

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Honduras: The First Lady - Part Two

Here are some pictures from our day with the Honduran First Lady.

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Bangladesh: 2012 Team Getting Ready!

The Bangladesh team is preparing to leave.  Here is the picture taken at their July planning meeting!

Back Row Left to Right: Ron Cameron, Faith Clark, Mike Foster
Front Row Left to Right: Charlene Gordon, George Foster, Patsy Leamon

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Bangladesh: Post your comments here

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Honduras: The First Lady

Today our distribution was at El Carrizal, an inner city school in the capital city of Tegucigalpa. During this largest distribution of 717 bedkits, we were advised that the First Lady of Honduras would be visiting the site. The  First Ladies of Honduras have traditionally been the sponsors of the Healthy Schools Program and supporters of the SCAW bedkit distribution for the past 11 years. Many volunteers from the program assist in our daily distributions. There was a great deal of  anticipation  awaiting her arrival among the Rotarians, Healthy Schools volunteers, students and  our SCAW team. When she arrived with her entourage (TV cameramen, photographers, secret service and military), it was quite a scene. The first lady followed the bedkit distribution process through each of its steps while always stopping and talking with the various volunteers.   All the TV cameras were rolling for this stop. She particularly  quite enjoyed  talking with some of the children, particularly those who were receiving bedkits after their photos were taken. It was  obvious  that the First Lady’s support for our program is genuine and heartfelt.
The media have been very interested in the SCAW distribution and our partners, the Rotary Club of Tegucigalpa. Many days have been interrupted with various TV personnel tracking the distribution and interviewing SCAW members, other volunteers and the children receiving bedkits.  Our good work is spreading throughout the city.  In every instance, SCAW’s contribution to the betterment of the lives of 5000 children has been met with gratitude.  So far, we have touched the lives of 3490 children.  It has been a great experience.
On behalf of the SCAW team 2012

Monday, 29 October 2012

Honduras 2012: Rainy Season

Everyday begins as a new adventure. It is the rainy season in Honduras. We rise with the hope the sun will break through the clouds and bathe the children in its warmth as they prepare for the photo shoot and get their bedkits.  Occasionally we have had to retreat into a classroom or find shelter under a canopy.  But nature has been kind and heavy rains wait until the last snap of the camera shutter and the last child has been given the treasure of a bedkit.
The roads and countryside have not however escaped the wrath of heavy rains  that have plagued Honduras for some time.  Flooding has closed some; others have been heavily pitted creating ditches that must be carefully navigated by our driver.   The natural contours of the countryside lend themselves to steep, narrow and muddy passageways that challenge both the driver and the many children we see going to school. Some families have lost their homes, mudslides taking their humble homes with them.  Imagine the importance of the mattress of the bedkit that protects a child from the dampness of a mud floor.
On Saturday, we distributed 662 bedkits in Amarateca, a considerable  distance from Tegucigalpa, high in the mountains.  The poverty of the children was quite noticeable as was their obvious delight in receiving the bedkit.  The mattress continues to be the most popular item in the bedkit, but every item is a treasure.  School supplies, for example, are very much appreciated, for now the family has more money to spend on food.  The blanket provides warmth and comfort during the cold evenings of the rainy season.  Clothes are always a welcome addition as is the mosquito net which particularly is needed when dengue fever epidemics arise.  Each donor of a bedkit can be sure that their money has brought incredible aid and comfort to a child.  If only we could bring back the warmth and true gratitude of each child’s smile as they receive a bedkit.  It is a memory never to be forgotten.
On behalf the the Honduras SCAW team 2012
Irene Harrison.


Friday, 26 October 2012

Honduras: What would be do without the Rotarians and their Wives?

What we do without them - the Rotarians and now the wives of the Rotarians!!!

Today we enjoyed the company and hard work of many of the men and their wives who are associated with the Hondurans Oversees Volunteers Partners - namely the Rotarians of Tegucigalpa.

Here we have Gustavo - next year's Rotarian's president (in the dark jacket) and Don sitting in the chair acting as translators while Jim (team member) interviews a father of one of the children. They are looking the bedkit and showing the parent each article. They are asking questions such as  - What is the most useful part of this kit? and making sure they understand the impotance of each item.

These are the women behind those men who came out today. Here Inez (who is Fidel's wife - the current president and SCAW representative, Ana (Juan's wife), Milala (Sergio's wife) and Gladys (Maurizio's wife) who will be leading the women next year are checking the children's names off after they've had their pictures taken.

And finally Juan and Sergio help the children carry their kits out to their waiting teachers.
We can't thanks them enough for their help and support. Even Jose (our host for the day) got involved by telling the children that what they will be getting today is in fact from the generous support of SCAW in Canada and the U.S. We were please to see that many of them knew that Canada is north of the United States.

So from the start to the end of the process, we thank the Rotarians and their wives for another GREAT Day.

Mucho Gratias,

Theresa Carravetta - Team Honduras 2012
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Thursday, 25 October 2012

Honduras: Enjoying all our new experiences!

Being a first time volunteer with Sleeping Children Around the World means learning something new at each distribution. The rest of the team is very encouraging and with their friendly relaxed approach to the tasks at hand, I feel comfortable with what I need to do.

Each distribution site means determining where things should be set up. With children moving easily from entry to photo shoot and receiving their bed kits, there is time for SCAW volunteers to take candid shots and to interact with groups of children.

Honduran adults and children alike treated the few special needs children in a respectful and gentle manner. I thought after the first 2 distributions that the best part or most rewarding experience is seeing the beautiful smile and evident excitement on the face of the child who has just received the gift of a bed kit.

Rivaling this sight is interviewing the parent or grandparent that accompanies the child. I had the opportunity to do 5 interviews on our third day. Melissa, a beautiful, vivacious Honduran volunteer was a superb translator. For a brief period of time I was allowed a glimpse or snapshot of life for the families that SCAW is helping. What a wonderful concept! The donor receives a snapshot of the child receiving their gift and the volunteer receives a verbal snapshot of the life of that child and his/her family.

While I prepare for another new experience tomorrow, here are some pictures from today!

Sheila Martin for Honduras 2012
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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Day 2: Ciudad Cataluna, Honduras

Hello, we had a great distribution this morning, one of our smaller ones, 425 bed kits . With hurricane Sandy offshore, rain threatened this morning which required us to set up in a classroom. Thankfully, with exception of a few drizzles, it did not rain.

The children were delayed coming to us this morning due to unrest in their area. They were very anxious to get off the busses and get their bed kits.

Sheila and I were in charge of arranging the children to have their pictures taken. I love this job because we  get a chance to interact with the children while they wait. Although there is a language barrier we always  have a very entertaining time with them.  It become apparent very quickly which children are characters. The children love to impress us with the little English words that they know.
We could not distribute the kits with such efficiency without the help of the Rotarians and the young adults from the First Lady's Healthy School Helpers program.

Our team of six all share the same sentiment that the best part of the distribution is watching the smiles of the children as they receive their bed kit.

Valerie Teslia for Team Honduras 2012

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Day 1: Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Life is awesome when you are a Sleeping Children volunteer and can witness the joyful expressions of 650 children. That's what our first day of distribution in Tegucigalpa, Honduras was like. Some of the children had been practicing their English and thrilled us with their "hellos" and "thank yous". But better yet were their animated expressions as we asked them to smile - "sonria" when they had their pictures taken.

There were many other things to be grateful for on our first day other than the happiness that these children expressed for their "gift". We continue to be thankful that SCAW continues to have such generous supporters. And as an added bonus we are thankful for the support of the ever so professional Rotary Club of Tegucigalpa. Their work started many months ago in the preparation of the entire bedkits as well as the endless support with the children on the sites. Simply said we couldn't do it without them.  We are reminded that they are in fact an intricate part of this entire process.  I think it helps that they are having some fun with it as well.

Today we also met a young Rotariat - Luis who is 20 years old, training to be a doctor and just joined the younger group of Rotarians 2 months ago! We learned much from him today as he learned about SCAW and we must have done something right because he and some of his fellow Rotariats will be join us later on in the week!

We are well on our way on enriching the lives of a total of 5000 Honduran children over the next 10 days and we hope you will continue to share in our journey.

Till tomorrow,

Buenas noches

Theresa Carravetta for Team Honduras 2012
Team Honduras 2012:
Jim Gibson, Ken Teslia Irene Harrison (Team leader),
Theresa Carravetta, Valerie Teslia, Shelia Martin
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Monday, 22 October 2012