Monday, March 4, 2013

Another Rewarding Soap Distribution Trip to Honduras

The following post is from Rosanna Kingston, Clean the World's nonprofit partnership and volunteer coordinator.

The Clean the World soap distribution team started their journey to Honduras on Tuesday, Feb 23. On the team I was accompanied by Terry Dunbar from the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City, NJ; Kathryn Coiner- Collier from the Aloft Charlotte Uptown in Charlotte, NC; Jami Rodman from Las Vegas; and Mary Coiner and Lou Collier from Virginia.

This is Kathryn’s third trip with Clean the World, but this time was special because she was joined by her parents: Mary and Lou. Even better, Lou brought his guitar and was ready to lead our now famous (at least in one small part of Honduras) hand washing song! Kathryn is the creator of this song and the “Super Jabon” character who sings it.
Terry Dunbar from the Hyatt Regency Jersey City.

We traveled all day on Tuesday. Our trip started with a one-hour flight from Miami to Orlando, and then a connecting flight to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Once we retrieved our luggage and cleared customs, we were greeted by the in-country partners from Joint Task Force-Bravo, Iris Medina and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Frazier. We all boarded one vehicle and headed to Soto Cano Air Base in Comayagua. The drive time was three hours.

Soto Cano Air Base (commonly known as Palmerola Air Base) is a Honduran military base five miles south of Comayagua in Honduras. A modest concentration of U.S. troops and the Honduran Air Force academy use the airbase. The U.S. government once used Palmerola as a base of operations to support their foreign policy objectives in the 1980s. Now the U.S. military uses Soto Cano as a launching point for its war on drugs in Central America, as well as humanitarian aid missions throughout Honduras and Central America.

After breakfast on Wednesday we boarded the vehicles and headed to our first site, the Juan Ramon Molina School. Before the soap was distributed, our team performed a short skit that involves a super hero that fights the germs. Kathryn reprised her original role as “Super Jabon” (Super Soap) and fought the germs played by Terry and Mary. Kathryn explained how to properly wash hands and taught the children our song about hand washing to the tune of "La Bamba." The sounds of Lou’s guitar and the children’s laughter filled the air! The skit is implemented as part of our presentation throughout all the sites where we distribute soap. We met the school leaders and teachers. We hand-delivered 70 bags (400 bars of soap) to the students, and the teachers received Clean the World ONE Project hygiene kits.

That day we visited the following schools:

      - Julio Cesar Lopez - 300 bars of soap
      - Manuel Bonilla - 300 bars
      - Matilde Cordova - 400 bars
      - Inmaculada Kindergarten - 600 bars
      - CE Ramon Ortega - 1,400 bars

We then returned to Soto Cano Base, had a late lunch and packed the vehicles with soap for the following day (800 bags 1,600 bars of soap). After a rest in the afternoon, we freshened up for a night out in the town. A local guide provided transportation and a tour of Comayagua. Comayagua is approximately 80 km (50 miles) northwest of Tegucigalpa on the highway to San Pedro Sula at an elevation of 594 meters (1,948 feet) above sea level. It is the capital of the Comayagua department of Honduras. The city is noted for its wealth of Spanish Colonial architecture. The central square has a cathedral with the oldest clock in the Americas. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner in a Spanish courtyard.

On Thursday morning after breakfast, we once again boarded the van and drove to the Aspiracion del valle school, where students gathered in the courtyard to welcome us. There were approximately 75 children. We met with the school leaders and then distributed 250 bars of soap. The teachers received Clean the World ONE Project hygiene kits.

That day we visited the following schools:

      - Roberto Mejia Castillo -1,050 bars
      - Julian Mendez - 400 bars
      - Carlos Sanchez School - 1,050 bars
      - Another 10,000 bars of soap will be distributed with U.S. military medical brigades and chapel hikes.

We returned to Soto Cano Air base for a tour of the aircraft. Then freshened up for a military casual dinner event.

Following an early breakfast on Friday morning, we boarded one vehicle for the three-hour drive to the airport for departure to Miami.
One thing that I have noticed with each distribution trip is that the children recognize us and look forward to our visits. The older students remember the words to our song and help us teach the younger students about the importance of hand washing. It reassures us that our message is getting through and that these trips are worthwhile.

Please click here to enjoy more pictures from the trip.

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