Thursday, March 6, 2014

Community Transformation through Partnerships

An excerpt from...

Community Transformation through Partnerships

By Larry OverholtHonduras
January-March 2014


Community Transformation through Partnerships
As facilitators of community transformation, missionaries can benefit by developing partnerships with other organizations. By working with others, they have increased potential for building bonds of trust in the community. Partnerships also increase our access to a diversity of resources. As a result of working together, we are ultimately likely to accomplish much more than we could by “going it alone.”

In Choluteca, Honduras, WGM missionaries and local church leaders are building strategic alliances with business leaders, educational institutions, and governmental agencies. The Choluteca collaborative involvement with The Ohio State University is one example of a valuable partnership that continues to develop beyond anything that we could have initially imagined. The working arrangement between World Gospel Mission and Ohio State began in 2000 when my wife, Angie, was studying for a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Out of a desire to expose fellow nursing students to the medical conditions in Honduras, Angie teamed up with her professor, Dr. Kathleen Stone, and one other student for the first nursing brigade to Choluteca.

The OSU nursing brigade has since grown to involve around 40 participants each year. Presently, students from the nursing, pharmacy, and medical schools have the opportunity to receive three hours of credit for participating in this study abroad program from Ohio State. Professors and medical professionals accompany the students to oversee the educational experience. Every year around 1,500 patients are seen in a five-day period. The local church helps organize the event in each community, and church members participate by offering spiritual counsel to patients.

Part of the advantage of networking is that our contacts and opportunities are multiplied when we work with others. The OSU medical connection is branching out to include other possibilities within Ohio State and also at other universities in the United States and with the university system in Honduras.

The OSU College of Engineering has started sending teams of students to design and build alternative energy projects at the vocational school and to work on a business model for the aquaponics projects. The aquaponics project has caught the attention of local businesses and governmental officials who would like to see the model become available to all of southern Honduras.

The OSU College of Agriculture plans to send teams of university students to help us work on vocational agriculture programs. This has led to developing a sister organizational relationship between our Choluteca vocational school and a vocational school in Ohio.
We appreciate your prayer support as we discuss with Ohio State and the Honduras university system ways we can work together to improve nursing education in Honduras. We are looking at the possibility of developing a nationwide vocational nursing program at the high school level as well as improving the Honduras university programs. 

Act!ACT: Create your own partnership and help expand the aquaponics model in Honduras. The Great Co-Mission Catalog offers you step-by-step directions on how you (and your personal network) can raise funds for this missions cause. Find the aquaponics project under community health and development at www.wgm.org/catalog.
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