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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Islanders take, find hope in Honduras

Despite 38 years' practice holding my emotions in check in the poker-faced world of big business, tears blurred the scene through the viewfinder of my camera as I snapped a picture of my wife Nancy kissing the newest member of our "family," Wilmer Alejandro.

We met Wilmer and his mother in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in Central America, while we were there with World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian organization.

We went to Honduras with other volunteers to work alongside Hondurans struggling to build homes for themselves. Many families there live in one-room structures under dilapidated thatched roofs and on dirt floors. The chimneyless wood stoves used for cooking fill the tiny houses - and the children's lungs - with smoke and ash. The thatched roofs harbor blood-sucking insects whose bite transmits a parasite that causes the often-fatal Chagas disease.

The new, World Vision-sponsored houses are built with adobe blocks the homeowner shapes from mud dug at the building site. Tile roofs and cement floors are also improvements over the old dwellings.

We soon learned how dedicated the Hondurans are to building their new homes on the remote mountainsides. Much of the building material is trucked in over barely passable roads and then the Honduran men, women and children hand-carry it up steep mountain trails. At 8,500 feet, my 63-year-old lungs were soon gasping for breath just climbing to the job site in the oxygen-depleted air.

The Honduran men and women worked steadily all day, carrying 45-pound adobe blocks and lifting them in place, hoeing loose the packed dirt that is the raw material for the mortar and finishing off the seams between the blocks.

We labored enthusiastically alongside but wilted under the hot sun and heavy loads. We were relieved to see the end of the work day when we could slip and slide back down the mountain and head for the hot showers and soft mattresses at the local hotel.

While in Honduras we visited other World Vision projects and at every turn met smiling, outgoing, energetic people who seem determined to break out of poverty and into a better life.

World Vision provides financial support for poor and underprivileged children through a sponsorship program. We met Wilmer, were immediately charmed by him, and "adopted" him through the WV sponsorship program. Other members of our team also agreed to sponsor children.

Tears flowed as we met, hugged and held the beautiful children and saw how hard their parents are working to use the minimal financial support to build a safe, healthy, joyful environment for them.

For Nancy and me, the most difficult part of the trip was seeing how much remains to be done to bring so many people from poverty and desperation to an acceptable standard of living. But we saw how hard the Hondurans are willing to work to transform their environment, how much they can do with minimal financial assistance and how grateful they are for the help.

Perhaps our sponsorship of Wilmer will make a difference in his life. Some day we will go back to Honduras and give him another hug.

(Editor's note: The Curds have returned to Bradenton Beach from their working visit to Honduras. World Vision may be reached at P.O. Box 78481, Tacoma WA 98481-8481, phone 1-800-777-5777.)