Most U.S. Americans are familiar with France, China, Kenya and Brazil. One country that’s flown under the radar for many, though, is Honduras.
Shannon Kuder, a pre-K paraeducator at Eisenhower Elementary School in McPherson, said many people she’s spoken with have never heard of Honduras. Kuder, though, has visited the Latin American country at least half-a-dozen times since 2007.
“To me, it’s such a unique place,” she said.
On her trips to Tegucigalpa, the nation’s capital, Kuder has observed a full spectrum of prosperity to poverty, from high-end shopping malls to tents almost on top of garbage dumps that house entire families.
Kuder’s first trip to Honduras in 2007 was a medical mission trip with the McPherson Church of Christ. In 2009, the church decided to work with three specific congregations in Tegucigalpa to build long-term relationships with the people there.
Kuder and a group of four other people traveled to a school in Honduras in May 2010. They asked school staff what the children needed most and consistently heard two answers: school supplies and dental education and supplies.
To meet these needs, Kuder and other church members collected school supplies, which they distributed to some very excited children in Honduras.
Kuder’s is now working to collect the needed dental supplies. To kick off a dental-supply drive at Eisenhower a few weeks ago, she gave a presentation to students.
“It’s fascinating to them to see the slides,” she said.
Kuder estimates the group has gathered about 50 of each item on the list - toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss. Her goal is to collect 100 of everything before the next trip to Honduras in June, but numbers in the 150 to 200 range would allow dental supplies to be distributed to younger children as well as ones in school.
Another need the Church of Christ group is working to meet is housing for a Honduran pastor, Ever Gallo, and his family. Kuder has been corresponding with the pastor’s wife, Maria, by email for four or five years and realized that the family was living in the church building, which is in poor shape. The building frequently floods, fostering mold that makes the family sick.
The church has raised enough money to purchase property for a new house and hopes to raise $6,000 more by June for building expenses.
The needs can be daunting, the work hard and the traveling long. Lending a hand to people in need, though, brings many rewarding experiences, Kuder said.
“Some of it’s just the look on the kids’ faces,” she said. “They’re so grateful it makes you want to do more for them.”