Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras 'Changing Lives,' was born in the fall of 2000. The vision was to create a program where students from Gehlen would do missionary work in a developing country.
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Honduras was selected for various reasons. One such reason was that Honduras had been struck in October and November 1998, by Hurricane Mitch, which devastated this small nation in Central America. Hurricane Mitch pounded Honduras for 10 days, leaving nothing untouched. Mitch literally destroyed the infrastructure of Honduras, the second poorest country in the western hemisphere. Electricity, roads, bridges, schools, clean water and most importantly 14,000 people dead and missing, were only some of the things affected. The former president of Honduras once said that Mitch put his nation back 100 years. The aftermath of something so devastating was quickly seen in many ways - increases in diseases of all kinds, cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, and malaria, to name only a few.
Honduras is a democracy of about 6 million people, located near the middle of the long isthmus that connects Mexico with South America. The national language is Spanish, although English is often spoken in some areas. The climate of Honduras is tropical, but is tempered by the higher elevations of the interior. In Honduras there is no spring or autumn, they refer to two seasons, the dry season and the wet season. About 90% of the population is Mestizo, or persons of Spanish and Native American ancestry, and roughly 60% of the people are rural. Tegucigalpa, located in the district of Francisco Morazon, is the capital city.
Another reason for selecting Honduras for this mission initiative was the contact we had made with two Roman Catholic nuns. Sister Valerie Knoche and Sister Barb Zimmer are member sisters of the 'Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,' out of Monroe, Michigan. Sister 'Val' has been in Honduras 30 years and Sister 'Barb' for 20. They run a Catholic Mission out of the small village of El Guante. El Guante is located about 2 hours north of Tegucigalpa and is home to about 1,000 people.
Click the picture above to see an enlarged map of Honduras.