Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 8, 1999
Hondurans appeal for relief
Local groups raising money and goods for hurricane Mitch victims
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in Honduras is still being felt by thousands of children.
More than 8,000 orphans across the Central American country desperately need help to survive.
Edmontonian Flor Chmielewska, president of the local Honduran Canadian Association and a member of St. John Bosco Parish, wants Catholics to help her bring relief to the orphans.
The Honduran Association, a 20-member group established soon after the hurricane hit Central America in October, has already shipped more than 40,000 pounds of material aid to Honduras.
On March 1, the group sent a shipment of toys, medicines, food, clothes and school supplies earmarked specifically for hurricane orphans.
Now Chmielewska and other local Hondurans are working with the Miami-based Bridge of Brotherhood in Christ, a Catholic charitable organization, to restore a kindergarten school.
They are also building an orphanage in Colonia Planeta, a district in the city of La Lima, some 600 km north of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.
The projects cost a total of about $250,000 and Chmielewska plans to raise part of that sum through cash donations, benefit dances and dinners, casinos and bingos. Groups in Alabama and Texas are also raising funds for the project.
The kindergarten school, which serves 175 children from six months to six years, suffered considerable structural damage and lost all its furniture, toys and school supplies. The school is currently operating out of a hall at La Lima's city hall.
The school is essential to single mothers who work on banana plantations to support their families, Chmielewska noted. They drop off their children at 6 a.m. and pick them up after work. Without the school, they cannot work.
The orphanage, to be built adjacent to the school, will house 150 small children who lost their parents in the hurricane.
The Honduran Association and the Bridge of Brotherhood in Christ also plan to help rebuild a Catholic church in La Lima that suffered $70,000 damage.
Once funding is in place, all projects will be built by volunteer labour. Construction should be completed by May, before the start of the rainy season, Chmielewska said. The mother of five will travel to her native Honduras in mid-March to inspect the projects.
A dance to raise funds for the projects will be held March 12 at 8 p.m. at Salsa Latina Night Club, 10815 Jasper Ave. Tickets can be purchased by calling Flor Chmielewska at 478-5558 or at the door.
Cash donations can be made through Chmielewska or at any branch of the Bank of Montreal to account #8221-432.