A study in how to lend a helping hand

Local woman returning to Honduras to help build another school with World Accord volunteers

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Lending a hand building a school in Honduras was such a rewarding experience that Jeanne Amos is going back again. She’s joining a small group of volunteers for a couple of weeks under the auspices of World Accord.

Last year, she helped build a kindergarten addition to a school in the Central American country. This time around, another community will get a hand building a new school.

The first trip down prompted a return, she says.

“It went really well, and I was impressed with the organization and its grassroots,” said Amos, of her first experience. “So I decided to try it again. I found the right charity; I found the right fit. I went to Honduras for the second time, and it was an amazing experience. You don’t realize the need until you get there. You really don’t understand third world countries until you live there.”

While the focus location of the charity is currently Honduras, volunteers have visited plenty of other places including Guatemala and El Salvador. No experience is required to sign up, and the group generally works on buildings vital to creating a sense of community, such as schools and community centres.

“They provided all our meals, and we had a little compound on our own,” said Amos, of living with the residents of Honduras. “We also got help from the locals, too. It’s not like they just sit around and watch – they’re very engaged as well.”

These volunteers work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., doing whatever needs to be done based on their ability level. Amos and her husband run Amos Roofing in Elmira, so she had some experience with construction before heading into the project.

“It was really amazing because you don’t know what to expect,” said Amos. “You don’t know if the work is going to be too hard for you, but there’s something that everyone can do once they get there. It was a lot of hard work, but there are lighter jobs, and there are heavier jobs. There’s something for everyone. Some people at first think, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t do that!’ But it’s not back-breaking work, but it’s work.”

Al Wigood has worked with World Accord for the past 29 years. He says he sees volunteers all across Canada, from here to Vancouver Island. They also come from all different backgrounds to complete various types of jobs.

“We have quite a variety,” said Wigood. “I have a foreman that works with me down there that’s an electrician, as well as a welder; he can do most anything. I have another chap that works with me; each winter spends four months with me. He’s a prairie farmer that likes to get away from the bad weather out west.”

He has seen Honduras grow significantly over the years, having owned a home there himself.

“When I went to Honduras, they didn’t have a high school. Now there are 600 kids at one,” said Wigood. “They have courses like home economics, cooking, and sewing. This has all taken place in 20 years, we’ve seen some pretty big changes there.”

Upcoming expeditions will take place in the first three months of 2019, with a trip to Horconcitas, Buena Vista, and Las Vagas/Gongora, all in Honduras. In the meantime, there is a fundraiser taking place in Linwood to raise money for the January trip.

“It’s to raise money for the science lab that we’re planning to build,” said Wigood. It will take place on October 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Linwood Community Centre. It has a “Dare to Dance” theme and will feature a professional dance demonstration, dance contests and a buffet dinner.

Anyone interested in learning more can visit World Accord.