AyO and COVID-19

  Alternatives and Opportunities   School Support Program

Questions and Answers to Mike Balahura, President of Help Honduras – June 2020

  1. What is going on with most students?

Due to the emergency caused by covid-19, the Secretary of Education welcomed the suspension of primary and secondary education classes nationwide. The National Autonomous University of Honduras, for its part, did the same a week earlier.

The measure taken by primary schools, secondary schools and universities has been the continuation of virtual classes, for which most schools and students were unprepared, including students and university teachers. The teachers of the different educational centers make use of platforms like Google Classroom, web pages of their own educational centers and Whatsapp, to upload topics, send and receive tasks. The drawback is that both teachers and students lack computers and internet access, but use smart cell phones for these activities, another drawback is little knowledge and experience in virtual classes. The students have expressed the overcharge of tasks and activities, they felt that attending their schools in person had more free time than taking their classes online.

At the national level, classes continue to use online, with the disadvantage that not all classes are taught and not all pupils have access to them. The measures taken by the government of the republic have been to teach by channel 8, the government channel and other media like Catholic channel 48, other channels provide basic classes, with the disadvantage that time is limited and in some cases no materials are used to explain them.

The School Support Program has monitored the mothers and young people involved, finding the following observations:

  • Some mothers have said they don’t have internet, or smartphones to deliver homework or follow classes online, so their sons and daughters continue their classes through television channels that are collaborating for education.
  • Mothers who have smartphones report that they don’t have money to buy internet packages and that they don’t know how to upload tasks to a platform, use Whatsapp to take videos, photographs and send them to the teacher, who require them to validate task
  • Other mothers have said they are in communication with the teacher and that they require parents to be connected daily as they must paste images from the internet and look for information on the internet, daily tasks and they do not have the economy to buy internet packages.
  • Some participants from Ayo and students from other educational centers, said they are receiving their classes through a Facebook platform in which the teachers upload tasks and the student resolves them, being saved automatically.
  • On the other hand, some professors from different educational centers have made the decision to create groups of whatsapp through which they communicate with their students in order to be able to send them class assignments, mainly mathematical and Spanish, students say that professors exceed their research tasks and topics from one day to the next, require more use of the Internet, and do not give them a good explanation, making it difficult for them to perform the tasks.
  • Some participants are receiving their classes through channel 8 but tell us that most of the time, the class is not well explained or the topics are well ahead of their content and cannot understand. All classes that they take through this channel and assignment of tasks the teachers of their educational center will give cumulative points.

Other participants said that they do not have access to the Internet or cell phone, but that fellow students who are neighbors and through this they are doing the tasks and that their teachers are not making use of the classes they are teaching on Channel 8.

Question No. 2 How is AYO using money donated to help students.

In view of the foregoing, and in a meeting with the President of the Board of Directors and Executive Director, the motion was presented to provide super electronic recharges to the participants so that they continue their studies and can access platforms to deliver tasks and work in accumulatives, with the acquisition of cell phones the educators monitor participants, who send photographs of them doing homework and their content

The scholarship money currently employed helps to send the weekly electronic recharges with a value of Lps. 100. 00 each. It is intended to send electronic recharges in the months of May, June and the first half of July. (covering two exact months).

Another action that the program will implement is the recording of math videos explaining the topics in which students present the most difficulty, upload them to Ayo’s Facebook so they better understand the topic.

Young university students continue their classes online, the period was extended and the second week of June will end. Of the 23 young university students, 13 have benefited from electronic recharge, the rest have Wifi in their homes.

The program has developed methodological guides in Spanish and mathematics, for primary school children, which will be delivered once we return to field work, this delivery will be made according to the degree the child takes if possible attending participants and their mothers by the hour, day and communities. The cost of these guides will be paid from the scholarship money.

As for English classes, a Google classroom platform was opened, using the platform provided by the Richmond Platform and whtassap groups, the class topics are uploaded weekly to Ayo’s Facebook, providing content to students who have difficulties accessing platforms.

Isis Carlota Torres Ramos:   

She’s 16 years old, a sophomore in High School in Finance, an academic excellence. Current president of the Ayo Children and Youth Boards. The mother has suffered two strokes, one facial and the other brain, still sells coffee and bread, tablecloths and runs errands to the teachers of the school where her daughter studies, since the beginning of the quarantine she does not work. The young woman’s uncle helps the family from time to time by providing food or money for the purchase of food, as they live on the outskirts of the city ask a neighbor who has a vehicle to buy food.

The young woman continues her studies using Whatsapp and platforms used by teachers to send assignments and topics. She is an active student of the English course taught by Ayo.


Jonathan Isaac Sosa Sosa: 

He lives in the community of La Cuesta, with his family. He is 17 years old, and has a II Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He is an active young leader of Youth Club, he is a young applied, since the beginning of the quarantine he has not missed a single day of classes, before being benefited with the super recharge, he bought weekly packages of internet. His school (INTEC) burned down three weeks ago, losing computers that were in the computer lab. The family situation was becoming a little difficult as food suppliers did not arrive in her community and access to markets was made difficult by the transport factor, but the family managed to purchase food.


Family Mendez Matamoros:

This family is synonymous with overcoming. Mother Blanca Matamoros, mother of 4, unmarried, sells sweets twice a week, promotes them using Whatsapp, although selling little generates income to supply small needs like buying one or two products from the basic basket (rice and beans). The mother is an active participant in the Mother and Father’s School program, which benefited from an industrial stove in which she prepares various treats. The young Bianca Julissa Mendez, finished her professional practice in the month of February, she began the procedures in the university for her graduation, by the covid-19, the university suspended all administrative and academic activity, Which is why the young lady is waiting to finish the graduation paperwork. She helps her mother sell candy.

Arleth Suyapa Mendez Matamoros, 16 years old, a high school health student, participates in the Youth Club program, continues her studies online, sending assignments weekly. She also collaborates in the preparation of the treats.

Richard Mendez: He is an intelligent and committed young man, he participates in a youth club. Despite not having a scholarship, he has participated in health education projects, standing out as a leader.

Here are photos of the papusas and tacos the family makes to earn a living.


AyO Featured in RAGM Blog

AyO is featured in a recent post on the RAGM (Rotary Action Group for Microfinance & Community Development ) blog.   It talks about the success of Global Grants supporting projects to provide Economic Opportunity Training and Job Search Training to families in Honduras.    You can read the entire post here.




The Sousaphone Story

When John and Jean Edge-Partington made their annual trek to Honduras in 2013, they visited a vocational school, and learned there was a very talented musician/teacher there named Juan Carlos, but he had no instruments with which to teach.

Over the next 4 years they took down a few each year, many being donated by Rotarians in Duncan BC.

In 2017 a Doctor donated this very valuable sousaphone.   Richard Kasperski took it to Santa Barbara as baggage.  It weighed 60 pounds and was oversize, but the airline allowed it to go without charge.

A very happy Juan Carlos is seen here with Richard.  His sign says “Welcome Richard and Heather More – Ambassadors of Music”.



Santa Barbara Inspection Tour – January 2019

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.”   Continue reading Santa Barbara Inspection Tour – January 2019

Castlegar Twin Rivers Elementary School Grade 4/5 Class

This class has been raising funds for Market Children in Tegucigalpa for over 10 years.  Their teacher, Curt Kutschera, uses the exercise to raise kids awareness about the importance of education, Central America and charitable giving.

In 2018 the class raised over $1,000!  


Ron & Elaine Ross, founders of  H.E.L.P. Honduras, are seen here with the 2016 class.

Thank you letters from the kids

Many of the market kids send their sponsors thank you letters each year.  Most of them are in Spanish, but this one is from a University student, and is in English.  

One young student  wrote a thank-you song which was performed by a group of market kids during picture-taking in January of 2019.    The student who wrote it is in the red shirt in the center of the video.

Congratulations Mark Isfeld Interact Club from Comox !

This high school Interact Club video won $1,000 from Rotary International for being selected best Interact Video in the world in 2017.

Watch the video to see how much work they are doing in Honduras.   Their Rotary Sponsor, Brian Mather, travels to Honduras each year with a few members of the club.  Last year they took US$6200 with them.     These kids are an inspiration.

RI President Barry Rassin visits AyO – July 2018


When RI International President Barry Rassin visited Central America in July, 2018, AyO was chosen as a project he should see.    He met with  women who gave testimonials of their experience with the early childhood stimulation and family economic development Global Grants of AyO, scholarship recipients, and young leaders of the Leadership and Values program of the Rotary Club of Tegucigalpa.  This program teaches kids in school about the values of Rotary and how to apply them in their lives.

H.E.L.P. Honduras 2017 Inspection Tour

Each year in January, a team of HELP Honduras members travel to Honduras to meet with our partners at  Alternativas y Oportunidades (AyO) and the Rotary Clubs of Tegucigalpa and Santa Barbara.    We review the activities of the previous year and make plans for the next.

We spend three or four days photographing the over 400 children that  our sponsors support in school through HELP Honduras .  We get thousands of hugs, smiles and thank-you’s from the kids and their families.

The HELP Honduras Directors are a dedicated bunch.  They donate  their time and travel at their own expense to do the annual inspection tour.

Details of the 2017 inspection tour are below.

Continue reading H.E.L.P. Honduras 2017 Inspection Tour