President Mike Balahura, and 6 Directors visited Santa Barbara in January 2019.
“We were so impressed with the work being done by this small group of very dedicated and caring people! With our help, they are building classrooms, latrines in schools, and computer labs too. They are teaching computer classes and administering scholarships to gifted and needy high school and university students. Their work is making a huge difference in the lives of the poor in the Santa Barbara area.”
In 2018, 34 high school and university students received scholarships through HELP Honduras. The students are selected from those recommended by teachers and the community, based on need and academic ability.
Scholarships cost $250 per year, and are administered by Ovan Castellanos (pictured left) through the Rotary office in Santa Barbara. Parents must provide proof of registration and bring in the student’s marks twice a year. Sponsors receive a photo of their student, and their marks too.
Students are not just given the money though. They must ask for supplies they need, such as books, school supplies, uniforms, etc. and they purchase them together with Ovan. Some university students receive money for rent or medicines as needed to stay in school. Nearly all of the students who start with the program finish school.
Over the past 10 years, 20 school classrooms have been built and funded through HELP Honduras, with funds primarily donated by a small group of people from Creston, BC through HELP Honduras. The current cost to build a classroom is USD $15,000.
Schools selected must be part of the education authority, the land must be state owned, and the Authority must provide a teacher. Schools are selected based on need and communities must help with construction and take care of maintenance.
This is the school building we visited in a village called Trinidad.
In 2014 a kindergarten classroom was added on to the far end of the building. Schools are inspected regularly to ensure they are being maintained.
In 2018, we built a new classroom in a school in Agua Frias, high in the hills near Santa Rita, a town about 30 km from Santa Barbara.
Creston Rotarians Heather More and Jean dge-Partington are seen here (far left) on an inspection tour, but it looks like they were put to work! Gwen Telling is in pink behind the ladder.
In Addition, we purchased 15 computers for the school in St. Rita where our guy Ovan taught 300 students how to use them. They are the only computers in the whole Santa Rita district so they really made an impact. Ovan has since been hired by the school authority on a part time basis to continue teaching computer classes.
Building Latrines in Schools
Our team visited a WASH project which is being funded through a Rotary Grant with Creston and Santa Barbara Rotary. This project was a response to Rotary International’s request for proposal.
This grant is for $96,500 to build toilets and hand washing stations in 10 schools around Santa Barbara. We learned that there may be enough money to do 12 schools instead. Children will be taught sanitation and hygiene as part of the grant.
We visited this school, where the new building was under construction.
At the left is the old washroom which was serving 250 students.
To the right, the building under construction will have 6 toilet stalls in the rear. One will be a larger handicap stall, and one will have a washing station within for post-puberty girls. The construction at the front will be the washing station.
Stewardship – Santa Barbara Rotarians Rene Vasquez, Dr Marley Castellanos; Dr Alvaro Perez are the Trustees of all money sent by HELP Honduras and there is an Agency Agreement in place (2016) which regulates the activities and responsibilities of both parties. Every year representatives from HELP Honduras visit Santa Barbara to inspect on-going projects and plan new ones.