September 3, 2020
As you know, the last few months have been arduous for the people of Honduras and we at Olancho Aid have been faced with difficult decisions. Thanks to the generosity of supporters like you who contributed to the Coronavirus Relief Fund, Olancho Aid has been able to maintain limited operations and provide assistance to employees. Despite such difficult circumstances, we have many reasons for hope.
First, we have been blessed that through our partnership with the Business on the Frontlines (BOTFL) program from the University of Notre Dame, we had data to inform our decisions about how to meet the immediate needs of the people we serve and how best to position ourselves to assist in rebuilding the community post-COVID19. We’re refocusing our efforts to enhance educational services that will provide meaningful vocational opportunities for people with special needs and develop the local economy.
We recently received exciting news from the Ruckstuhl Foundation of Baton Rouge! They have awarded Olancho Aid with a generous grant to fund phase I of the Agape Farm program. Through this initiative, students with special needs will receive training to support sustainable farming practices while growing food for the community. Recent OAF graduates will be invited to receive training in sustainable agriculture and act as program ambassadors to expand its reach in the community. Father Eddie Martin, board member of the Ruckstuhl Foundation, commented that, “the board is committed to projects that help improve the life and self-sufficiency of people in need and this investment appears to be an opportunity that will provide hope and improve the life and self sufficiency of many.”
Classes at Instituto Oscar Cardenal Rodriguez, OAF’s college preparatory high school, continue remotely. The BOTFL report provided us with a number of recommendations regarding expansion of educational opportunities that the community (students, parents, and businesses) value. These include classes in small business administration, strengthening the English language instruction and improving facilities. In preparation, we will begin by focusing on improvement of the digital learning environment for students and teachers at Cardenal.
You may recall that earlier this summer, the Olancho Aid Foundation recommended to Bishop Jose Bonello that operations of the bilingual schools be suspended for two years. The Diocese has since assumed management of the schools and Olancho Aid is supporting the transition.
Finally, in an effort to support families in the community and the Franciscan Sisters who manage the children’s home, Olancho Aid has returned control of the “Volunteer House” property to the sisters. Over the years, our volunteers and donors have supported the orphanage and the home for the elderly with contributions of time, in-kind gifts and funding. The sisters will immediately be able to use the facility to support the growing number of children and families in need. We are evaluating options for housing individuals and groups that come to serve and learn with Olancho Aid.
Though navigating uncertainty has been unsettling, we’ve found strength in knowing so many are invested in our work and in the community. Thank you for your prayers and support during this difficult time. Please join us in looking forward with hope and faith as we face the challenges ahead.
Yours in Christ,
Susan Nedza, M.D. Carlos Najera
President Executive Director