Thank you for all of your prayers and financial support that has allowed the Olancho Aid Foundation to continue its mission in Honduras. Your support has meant that our seniors graduated from Instituto Bilingue Santa Clara. It meant that we were able to transition to online education for students in both bilingual schools in order to complete the school year. It also allowed us to provide food and financial support for the families of our students and for our employees.
Throughout these last few weeks, the conditions in Honduras have deteriorated as the number of cases of COVID-19 and dengue fever have grown, torrential rains have come to the country and shortages of food, electricity and fuel have increased. The executive team of OAF and the Board of Directors have been monitoring the situation and have continued to make difficult decisions including the recent one in late May to furlough all but essential employees through mid-September.
After much discussion, prayer, and consultation with Bishop Bonello, we have made the decision to pause operations at our bilingual schools in order to continue to focus our resources on meeting the immediate needs of the community. This decision will enable us to focus on the continuation of the mission program, the operation of Escuelita Nazareth and to provide support directly to the Church to facilitate the distribution of funds to parishes and religious communities working across the Diocese of Juticalpa.
Santa Clara Schools
It has become increasingly clear that we will be unable to reopen our bilingual schools this year due to the ongoing pandemic, deterioration in the economic conditions in the country and loss of revenue to OAF. This week, the Foundation applied to the Honduran government for permission to suspend operations at the two schools. This decision was not easy, but was the unanimous decision of the Board of Directors and was approved by Bishop Bonello. As required by Honduran law, all employees who will be affected will receive severance pay that is calculated based upon their years of service and salary.
We will work with all families seeking to enroll in other bilingual schools to facilitate enrollment in those institutions. We will share a detailed plan regarding scholarship students to all sponsors in the next few days.
Instituto Oscar Cardenal Rodriguez
OAF has been mandated by the Department of Education to continue services at Instituto Oscar Cardenal Rodriguez through the end of the 2020 school year. We have made a commitment to continue operation of IOCR for the 2021 school year. The Board is working on a plan to provide an opportunity for students previously enrolled grades 6-10 in our bilingual schools to enroll at Cardenal as we have capacity at the school and our cost of operations are less than those at Instituto Bilingue Santa Clara.
Escuelita Nazareth will resume in-person operations when it becomes possible. In the interim, we will be providing counseling and other services to students and their families via telephone and internet. It is anticipated that a redesign in the program at Nazareth will be launched in early 2021.
Clean Water Projects
The water projects have continued to operate during the quarantine. Once feasible, OAF will evaluate all sites to determine viability and to ensure continuity of services in these communities.
The mission team program will resume in 2021 and teams will receive further information on the program in the next few days. It is anticipated that the core tenants of the experience will not change as attendees will continue to live in community, undertake service projects to benefit those that we serve, incorporate a spiritual program, and will be expanded to include more optional educational programming on topics such as the environment, healthcare, and education into the program. A virtual mission program is also being developed.
The strategic advisor program will continue in its current format. In the short term, consultations on specific projects will occur remotely until such time that safe travel to Honduras is possible.
The traditional volunteer program is currently being evaluated as it is a residential program in its current form. The Board is engaged in developing remote opportunities for college students and recent graduates to provide remote tutoring and English classes.
Support for the Diocese of Juticalpa
The Foundation is increasing its support of the Diocese and various religious orders in response to the pandemic and the severe economic distress it has caused. We will continue to work with Bishop Bonello to seek opportunities to continue these efforts.
We will close this update by once again thanking everyone for your support. We continue to be committed to helping create a sustainable community in Honduras where families can stay together, stay healthy and have an option to stay home. Please be reassured that your ongoing donations will be used to meet the pressing needs in the community.
Yours in Christ,
Susan Nedza, M.D. Carlos Najera
President Executive Director