Thursday, March 3, 2016

Returning After Missing 2015

The Latin America Rotary Aid (LARA) board of directors suspended its 2015 Honduras mission trip when we received word of gang violence in Santa Barbara late in 2014. A gang kidnapped a passenger from a taxi cab. There was a shoot-out with a rival gang. The driver was injured and taken to the hospital. The rival gang broke into the hospital and dragged the driver out and killed him. One of the shooting victims was a half-brother of one of our LARA Rotarians, and the incident left her feeling less secure about traveling on remote roads. He had always assured her that, when our team traveled on back roads, he had friends who would watch to assure that we were safe. Even when local Rotarians acccompanied us, she felt more secure because of her half-brother's promise.

Yesterday I returned with LARA direcctor Steve Rith-Najarian and will meet Mel and Lourdes Tangen tomorrow to start one of two school projects. On this trip we are assessing security and determining what risk management measures we should follow for future trips.

When we arrived in Santa Barbara yesterday. Rene Vazquez, a local Rotarian, met us at our hotel. He asked why we have such a small group this year. We explained that we were concerned about bringing a larger group until we understand what risks there are to traveling to remote villages. Rene was surprised. He said that conditions in this area are little different from those during our past trips. He said that we need to be concerned about conditions in the large city of San Pedro Sula, but we can continue to be active in the Santa Barbara area. As in the past, we will always have a local Rotarian with us when we travel to the remote villages.
Some of my clothes made in Honduras.

It seems as important as ever to maintain our connections with Hondurans. American companies continue to rely on Honduran labor for manufacturing and for agricultural produce. US citizens should be aware of the conditions in the places where we do business. When I packed for this trip, I quickly saw how many of my clothes were made here.

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