RPCVs' Amigos de Honduras

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Interview with PC Honduras Director

On Monday, 11/16, Peter Cooey succeeded in getting a phone call through to Peace Corps Honduras. He spoke with Julia de Funes, executive secretary for program/training. Following their brief conversation, Peter e-mailed Arnoldo Resendez, the Peace Corps-Honduras Director, a series of questions. Happily, Arnoldo responded the very next day. Here are the questions and his responses:

PC: When will volunteers be returning to their sites?

AR: Thirteen Volunteers returned yesterday (11/15) to assist us in doing site assessments in the Olancho and South Regions. The Trainees will return on Sunday, Nov. 22, the Western Volunteers will return on Monday, Nov. 23 and the rest of the Volunteers will return on Friday, Nov. 27, 1998. After a one day staging they will be returning to their sites. Of course, the sites have to viable.

PC: Do you expect all or nearly all PVC to be returning to their sites or will you have to cut back or change locations for many volunteers based on the damage in many sites?

AR: I am predicting that we will return Volunteers to about 90% of the sites. The reminder of the Volunteers will be offered site changes.

PC: Do you have an inventory of PCV sites and the conditions in those locations? If so, can you share such an inventory with "Amigos de Honduras"? (Many RPCVs are desperate to know about the smaller villages and towns-the ones that don't get written about in the mainstream press.)

AR: At this point, we only have an inventory of the sites in the West. The South and Olancho regions have not been completed yet. The site assessment are quite lengthy. The West site assessment are probably 30 pages long. I would assume that the assessments for the entire country, it would probably be over 100 pages. I am going to ask my staff to give me a summary assessment and maybe we could share those with you.

PC: If RPCVs in the USA want to know about specific locations or families in Honduras what is the best way to find out?

AR: They could sent us a E-mail note, if we have something we will share it with the RPCVs. There is a central committee working the emergency at the he national level. The committee is COPECO ad their phone number is 230-5660, I don't know how much information they are given out.

PC: Does PC-Honduras have a formal role with any of the relief agencies that have come to Honduras? In other words, are volunteers being assigned to specific agencies or are they simply linking up with whichever one(s)are working in their area?

AR: At this point we do not have nor do we anticipate having PCVs directly assisted to relief activities. As you know, Peace Corps is not a relief agency. Now, when Volunteers get back to their sites, I am sure that they will be involved in relief work at least for the first weeks. Through Crisis Corps we will probably be assigning Volunteers to relief

PC: What is the PC-Honduras plan for medium term assistance? ...with respect to agricultural production and infrastructure reconstruction? Will you be placing more aggies and engineers as a result of this disaster?

AR: At this point we do not know. We need to finish up the site assessments and then when the Volunteers return to their sites they will be conducting further assessments.

PC: In California, we are going to be strategizing about how the State can help in the medium and long terms. Do you have some suggestions about how our state can contribute? (Univ. Calif. Extension, Farm Bureau, professional engineers, etc.)

AR: Agricultural assistance will no doubt be needed, likewise, civil engineers will be needed.

PC: Can you give us some idea of the overall plan for assistance from the US government? Our RPCVs may want to voice their support for the Administration's plans...or they might want to push for some alternatives. Knowing what the US government is planning would be helpful.

AR: The US currently have given or pledged over $100 million dollars for assistance to Honduras. Most of it has been spend for relief work. They will be probably more funds for long term development. What their plans are, I could not tell you. AID will be in charge of those funds.

PC: How many PVCs were programmed for Honduras before the disaster...? and how many do you see being there over the next year?

AR: It's too early to know. We had 205 Volunteers and Trainees before Mitch.

PC: Finally, I understand that PC staff in a number of countries have established a local fund for making small grants to projects in which PCVs are directly involved. These funds are provided by donations from RPCVs in the USA who want to continue to help and feel reassured that funds directed to PC sites will be used efficiently and for direct benefit of the people. During this crisis and the extraordinary efforts to respond, would you be willing to establish such a fund and manage the small grants to projects involving PVCs?

AR: We are asking RPCVs and others to make donations to the Peace Corps Partnership Program and they can identify where they want their donations to go. Volunteers are also thinking of doing something close to a “sister cities" program. However at a much smaller scale, i.e. a church could be teamed up with Orocuina or some other town, village or neighborhood. Sorry that I might not have given you as much information as you need, but we are quite overwhelmed at times. Most of our staff have not had a day off or weekend off since October 25. Later on we could provide you more information.

Contacting the Staff of Peace Corps-Honduras If you want to reach the Peace Corps office in Tegucigalpa, the best way is through e-mail. To call Peace Corps Honduras; dial 011 (to get an international line), then the Honduras country code 504, then one of these office numbers 232-9005, 232-8516, 232-8517, 232-8884, 232-2541,232-1753. For example: dial, 011-504-232-9005. E-mail for particular PC-Honduras staff is the first letter of their first name, then their full last name, then "@hn.peacecorps.gov". So, the director, Arnoldo Resendez, can be e-mailed at"aresendez@hn.peacecorps.gov"...and it works!

Here is a listing of the Peace Corps Honduras staff as of October 8th:

Arnoldo Resendez, Country Director

Ms. Gerry Schafer, Program & Training Officer

Paul Teeple, Agriculture

Orlando Rivera, Health

Alejandro Corpeno, Small Business

Jorge Bustamante, Natural Resources

Martin Rivera, Water Sanitation

Lucy de Zuniga, Exec. Officer

Aida Zelaya Mendoza, Admin. Asst.

Julia de Funes, Exec. Sec. Programs/Training

Carmen Sarmiento, PA/water, sanit., small business

Suyapa de Crespo, PA/natural res., ag, educ.

Eunice Murillo, recept., admin

Manuel Davila, general services

Raul Andino Licona, messenger

Carmen Mendoza, Travel

Iris Torres, cashier

Maritza Arriaga, Admin. sec.

Lucrecia Ynestroza, vouchers

Jutta Bayer, R.N., medical contract

Margaret Zelaya, R.N.

Cleopatra Bennett, R.N.

Gladys Miranda, secr.

Mario Aceituno, mechanic

Roberto Amador, custodial RPCVs