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Major Projects

Without your financial support there would be no projects! Please donate today!

Guaimaca, Honduras

Guiamaca classroom
Guiamaca classroom
We built an education center in Guaimaca which includes a library and another building housing a variety of activities. Three college students run the library and lead classes in a variety of subjects. The Green Cross has a clinic, office, and dorm providing services in the main building. Music, ceramics and baking classes are offered so long as funding is available.

We need your financial support to keep this center functioning. You are invited to come along with us to Guaimaca in mid-February 2018, where accommodations are free if you volunteer to teach a class! Phone 413-645-2003 for more information.

La Esperanza, Intibuca Honduras

We had been sending containers filled with goods and supplies to Intibuca/La Esperanza for years before the local Savings & Loan, CACIL, learned about us and established a foundation to assist our projects.

Today, we are preparing to ship two containers with things like hospital beds, dental & medical equipment, school equipment & supplies, anything sports-related; all the empty spaces will be filled with clothes and shoes. We need donations of clothing and shoes and more importantly we need help loading the container.

When the empty shipping container arrives at our W. Stockbridge facility, on a Tuesday, we will have only fours hours to fill it – phone 413-645-2003 for more information.

Malpaisillo, Nicaragua

Berkshire Amistad was started in 1986 by Susan Gordon and Jim Moran. Pittsfield, MA and Malpiasillo, Nicaragua have been Sister Cities since 1992, with a focus on education and health. We are making plans for a two week visit during March 2018. Our plan is to work in the library, get to know the community, and spend time on the beach!

For more information, Eddie will make a presentation at the Pittsfield library, Dec. 14, at 7pm – or phone 413-645-2003.

2016 Honduras shipment update

Dear Friends, I’m just back from Honduras and sorry to say that the shipment we all worked so hard to ship has not cleared customs in Honduras. I will let you know when it does and is distributed to those who need it. Also, we are very sorry for the murder of Berta Caceres, one of the leaders of the indigenous Lenca people, for whom we have provided aid.

Guiamaca classroom
Guiamaca classroom
The good news is that I spent nearly four weeks at our main project in Guaimaca. The building is in great shape and providing much-needed services to people in Guaimaca. The library is now bilingual. The encyclopedia donated by our Unitarian Universalist friends in Corpus Christi, Texas and other books (mostly Sonrisa’s) that were in storage have been cleaned and are now available for the many students in Guaimaca who are studying English.

Karen the librarian

Karen, our new librarian, is a certified teacher who is currently studying education at the university level. She told me that she knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was four or five years old. When she was little, all she ever played was school and she was always the teacher. When it was time for high school, her parents sent her to live and study at a special high school designed to prepare students to be kindergarten and first grade teachers. She graduated from that school and taught for one year at a small one-room school just outside Guaimaca. She lost that job for political reasons and entered into the university to continue her studies. She is very excited to work for us in our library and we are very happy to have her teaching reading and mathematics.

Honduran Green Cross

The Honduran Green Cross Base #7 has been using our ambulance for the last three or four years and has officially moved into our building. They have been using it for trainings and a supply depot while continuing to pay for a piece of property that will be the base, once they have built a building. Until that has happened the team will use our building for their office and clinic. They are operating a clinic that is staffed 24 hours a day, providing first aid services like cleaning wounds, including stitches and blood pressure tests. Doctors from the Green Cross will visit the clinic to provide consultations and more training. When necessary, the ambulance will be used to transport patients to the hospital. While I was there, they delivered a baby girl on the way to the hospital. There is currently interest in setting up a maternity clinic in our building, with the support of a local cooperative Savings and Loan. We have always been open to the ideas and the needs of the people who live in the neighborhood and would welcome this needed service.

Baking and pottery

The wood-fired oven is still being used to teach baking. Three classes took place while I was there. Mercedes, a neighbor, is our teacher. Mostly women take advantage of these classes and are encouraged to prepare dough in their own homes and bake in our oven.

We are building a wood-fired kiln for the ceramics classes, and have two instructors who want to teach. Although each has a different style of teaching and end-product, both are focused on producing marketable items. Years ago we received a rectangular kiln which we disassembled and put into boxes. Those bricks will be the foundation of this new kiln. The electric kilns that we have and have used for classes are very expensive to operate and are not how Hondurans produce pottery. As with the baking, students will be encouraged to use our kiln, after completing the training.

Paola, who has been teaching art in our building for the past few years, has graduated from the university in Tegucigalpa with a degree in art and ceramics instruction. We are looking forward to whatever help she can provdie.

Our front yard has always been the place for the youngsters to play soccer. Now, we have made goals and marked off the field. Some high school students want to do train the smaller children and the girls. While I was there I bought more balls and we used big soda bottles sinstead of buying training cones to aid in the training.

Beauty, English, computers, and music

We did a small survey asking what classes people were most interested in. Beauty, English, computers, and music were on top of the list. We set up our beauty classroom with a large mirror and three chairs. A young woman who has studied locally is going to teach everything from hair styling to pedicures. We have provided these classes before, and it is the type of class that prepares someone to go out and set up shop in their own homes.

Roser, a young man from Tegucigalpa, is waiting for the computers we sent in the container to teach basic computer skills on Saturday mornings. As with the beauty classes, we will supply the classroom and equipment while the students will pay the instructor, at 50 cents per hour.

The pianos, guitars, and violins are just waiting to be played. An ice cream vendor is still thinking about teaching violin and a local guitar teacher is still just talking about it. This is a good example of where our apartment upstairs comes in. It can sleep four or five people and with the purchase of the plywood and some work, we could accommodate four or five more.

volunteer opportunities in Central America

There are travelers and students from all over the world, including Tegucigalpa, looking for volunteer opportunities in Central America. We want to invite them and you to come and stay in our building without charge and teach something. It could be anything from violin to ceramics, baking to English, carpentry to math or any of the other things we have that can be used to teach. In the past we have had Italian, self-defense, massage therapy, bicycle mechanics, and even French. The possibilities are endless!

And all of this is happening in one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, in a country where parents are sending their children on the dangerous trip to the US to have just these opportunities. With your help we can provide all these opportunities and services.

$500 per month needed

To cover the cost of keeping this clinic and building open and in good shape, and to cover the cost of these dedicated instructors, I need at least $500 a month. Could you donate $100, enough for a class? How about enough for one week, $125? Could you get together with a few friends or your faith group to cover a month, $500? The cost for the 90 minute ambulance trip to the hospital is $100; could you cover one trip for someone who just can’t afford it? How about another soccer ball for $20?

Please consider becoming part of this great project. This year we are celebrating 20 years since Kelley, Sonrisa and I set off for Honduras. The Honduran people have been in my heart for very close to forty years and I can tell you they are the sweetest, warmest people I have ever known. Please get in touch with me if you have any ideas or if you would like to go with us to visit this project. If you want to learn Spanish, this project is a great place to start. I am always available to make presentations; let me know if your group would like to hear more or if you know of a group I should get in touch with.

Thanks for your time, Sincerely, Eddie O’Toole.