Donald Westra, a member of Federated Church UCC, Fergus Falls, Minnesota, serves with the Evangelical and Reformed Church of Honduras (IER). His appointment is made possible by your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing, Disciple's Mission Fund, Our Church's Wider Mission, and your special gifts.
Spring 2015 finds Maryjane and me working at The Center for Vocational Education and Evangelical Reformed (CEVER) in Yoro, Honduras. CEVER is a vocational/technical school with courses in machining, auto mechanics, welding, woodworking, culinary arts, and soon cosmetology. There are currently 141 students enrolled. Enrollment prior to the economic downturn was around 225.
Maryjane and I were placed here by Global Ministries at the request of the Evangelical and Reformed Church of Honduras (IER) to assist the school administration in implementing program growth and sustainable development.
Samuel, age 21, is a second year student in the Auto Mechanics class at CEVER. He travels one hour each way daily from his home in Morazán. He has a part-time job working in an auto repair shop in his home town. He hopes to continue to live and work in his home town after graduation. Samuel feels that the program is giving him a good basic automotive education, but more, newer tools would be helpful. He is getting some interaction with customers on the job, but feels it would be beneficial to get some customer service exposure at school. He hopes to open his own shop one day and to be able to work on newer computerized vehicles.
A major initiative for the next year is to promote the school and offer CEVER’s services to the community. The welding class can do projects for hire; the machining class can rebuild items for the public; the culinary arts department will soon begin selling woodfired pizza in the central park of Yoro; the cosmetology class will invite clients to the school. Students will get first hand experience in dealing with customers and public expectations.
With 45% unemployment, Honduras is considered the second poorest country in Central America and the Caribbean. People who have aquired marketable skills are able to find employment. The mission of CEVER, with help from Global Ministries, is to provide students with the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace.
The primary philosophy of Global Ministries is to walk with our partners. Mission personnel are not placed to tell the partners what to do. We brainstorm as a group, but the decisions lie with the partners. The decision-making pressure is not on the missionaries and it reminds us that we must not be too forceful in promoting ideas.
Many items are needed to bring CEVER back to its pre-downturn status. Machines in the machine shop department need repairs, upgrades or replacement. The shop also needs new drill bits and metal cutters. Welders need new cables and clamps. The machine shop and welding department need money to buy raw materials and welding rods with which the students can practice. New automotive repair tools are needed. Global Ministries is able to provide money and personnel support to CEVER and many other organizations through your donations to One Great Hour of Sharing. Your annual donation to OGHS can make a huge difference in a young person’s life. The success of OGHS relies on the promotion of the program in your individual churches. If you are on your conference or local mission committee, be sure to actively promote the OGHS Sunday.