Sol Foundation International
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Crisis on the Border: A Honduran’s View

(Natan Webster is currently pursuing a medical degree and is the recipient of a medical scholarship sponsored by The Foundation for the Advancement of People administered through SOL International Foundation.  He is a 3rd year medical student living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.)

 

 

Crisis at the border: A Honduran´s View

 

Let’s be clear illegal immigration is…. well illegal, every country has a sovereign right to have and defend its borders. I oppose illegal immigration and believe people should be punished who break the law. Now what is going on with the U.S southern border is sad indeed, I understand some of my american friends who have made very nasty comments about these kids, after all they are undermining your country´s sovereignty and breaking the law. But I also understand these kids because I am one of them. No I have never even thought about illegally going to the United States, But I live in Honduras one of the countries most of these kids are coming from. I have had friends that have made that dangerous journey, some on repeated occasions. I have had family that made that journey some of whom I have never seen since, or who came back deeply damaged like my uncle who came back with both his arms amputated.

I like the way David Gergen at CNN summed up the situation, and I quote:
“As America grapples with a crisis of children on its southern border, another image from another time seems inescapable: that ship full of Jewish refugees off our shores as World War II approached.
You might have seen the story portrayed in the Holocaust Museum in Washington. It unfolded in 1939 as Jewish families fleeing from Germany took passage to Cuba on a German liner, the St. Louis. While underway, Cuba decided to deny them entry so they turned toward America, desperately hoping the United States would show them compassion.
But the U.S. political climate had turned hostile toward the growing number of European Jewish immigrants. On June 6, 1939, their ship hovered off the coast of Miami Beach — only to learn that the U.S. government refused them entry.
Losing hope, the St. Louis turned back to Europe and there, in the months and years that followed, over a third of its passengers perished at Nazi hands. America has had many noble moments, but that was a moment of shame that left an indelible stain.
Seventy-five years later, we are faced with a new group of desperate people hovering in our midst — this time children from Central America escaping escalating levels of violence few of us can fathom. While certainly no Nazi Germany, the growing humanitarian crisis in their home countries is glaring as rising murder rates for youths are a driving force behind the mass exodus.
How will we respond this time?”

Just as with the Jewish refugees on the St. Louis, this influx is not primarily a story of immigrants traveling to America to seek opportunity and prosperity. This is a story of three countries so plagued by gang violence, chaos and poverty that a family would rather pay a “coyote” 18 months of income to take their 14-year-old daughter on a life-threatening 45-day, 2,000-mile journey than have her risk her life at home.
This is a story of three countries with levels of violence comparable to a war zone. Honduras suffers from the highest murder rate in the world, and El Salvador and Guatemala are in the top five. In fact, a civilian is twice as likely to be killed in these three countries as in Iraq during the height of the war. It’s the kids who are most at risk in this story. Boys are recruited into gangs sometimes before they hit their teenage years. Girls are forced into non-consensual relationships with gang members where they are raped, abused and sometimes “disposed” of afterward. And any defiance invites violent retaliation and, often, death.
One immigration rights advocate recalls a mother telling her,  “I would rather see my child die on the way to the United States than die on my doorstep.”  Another organization reports a child explaining, “If you stay, you will die, if you leave, you might. … Either way it’s better to try.”
What should be done?”

My friend Ana Svoboda shared the following stats on Facebook.
“It is the worse migration crisis ever seen, but who can blame them? There are very few Hondurans that have the chance to make it through school. Out of 100 only 89 make it to 6th grade. Out of 89 only 49 make it to 7th grade. Out of 49 only 29 make it out of high school. Out of 29 only 15 make it to College and out of 15 only 7 graduate from college—true statistics.”

Friends we all know that education makes a big difference in people´s lives. Part of the answer to the humanitarian crisis of this generation is education. We all can help solve these problems not with some short term fix but something that will make a difference for the long term. I saw the request for over 3 billion dollars that president Obama made to congress and I could not help but think, “What a difference that money would make and how quickly this problem would be solved if it was invested in improving the lives of these kids back home.”  I do not advocate giving money to the Honduran government; money given to this government rarely gets to the people that need it the most.

There are organizations such as SOL Foundation, Students Helping Honduras, and Little friends Foundation that are making a huge difference in the life of Honduran kids every day. SOL foundation provides scholarship and after school activities for kids that help keep them away from the gangs and building a better future for themselves. I am one of SOL scholarship recipients and I must say that SOL has given me a reason to hope that I can have a good life right here in my country helping and serving people in my community as a doctor, and they are doing the same for many other kids. You might say, “Well,what does this have to do with immigration?” Well I will never head for the border, my kids will never head for the border, and many more people affected by my success will never head for the border. A dollar sent to an organization such as SOL will make more of a difference in this humanitarian crisis than hundreds of dollar on border police or thousands given to the Honduran government.

So I make a call to all my American friends:  If this crisis concerns you and you would like to help make a difference go on over to SOL´s website and chip in to help them continue to do the work they are doing. You can make a huge difference today, long term difference, just by donating a few dollars. A donation of any amount will help the guys at SOL continue to offer hope and a better future to children who most need it in Honduras. Or just go over to their website and read about what they are doing, share it with a friend, or find out other ways that you can help.


SOL International Foundation Welcomes volunteer Lou Trosch!

SOL International Foundation would like to welcome volunteer Lou Trosch to Roatan!  Lou comes to us from Guilford College in North Carolina and will be working with some of our young baseball players this summer.

Lou is a pitcher for the Guilford College Quakers and is helping to coach our 9-12 year-old baseball players.  He is also working very closely in a mentor program with some of our teenage boys conducting specialized baseball training with them and working on projects to improve the John J Wood “Field of Dreams”.

SOL International Foundation THANKS YOU, Lou!

If you, or someone you know, is interested in long-term volunteer projects with SOL, contact us for more information.


2014 SOL Youth Baseball League

 

 

SOL International Foundation is now conducting our Youth Baseball League for 9-12 year-old children.  This year we have 5 teams in the league including the Sandy Bay Padres, the Sandy Bay Cardinals, the Flowers Bay Cubs, West End Blue Jays, and the West End Power.

SOL is a firm believer that sports like baseball are a great way to teach leadership skills and teamwork while providing an outlet for physical exercise.

Games are held each Thursday and Saturday at the John J Wood “Field of Dreams” behind the West End gas station, starting at 6pm.  Please come out and show your support by cheering on these future stars!


Visiting soccer player conducts camp for kids

In March of 2014, former professional soccer player and coach Lubos Barta held a week-long soccer clinic for local kids and adults at the Sandy Bay ball field.  He came prepared with dozens of balls, uniforms, cones, and even medals for the participants!

Lubos even got his children involved in the clinic and they worked with the younger kids as he focused on preparing drills and exercises for the teens and adults.  Lubos was on a family vacation on his first visit to Roatan and decided he would like to give something back to the community.

If you are coming to Roatan on vacation, contact us to find out how you can put your skills to good use!

 


Roatan Raffle- AND THE WINNER IS…..

Congratulations to Lawrence and Caroline Eagles, the winners of the 2013 SOL International Foundation Roatan Raffle!  They won a 1-week stay at Infinity Bay Beach Resort in beautiful West Bay Beach.  Thanks to everyone who purchased raffle tickets – we sold a total of 50 tickets this year.  After all processing fees, this resulted in a total of $4850 raised – $1212.50 to the SBAS Scholarship Fund, $1212.50 to the Sandy Bay Sea Stars, and $2425 towards other SOL operating expenses and programs.


SOL International annual Roatan Raffle Fundraiser…

Each year SOL International Foundation conducts a raffle where YOU have the chance to win a 1-week stay on beautiful West Bay Beach in Roatan, Honduras.  Thanks to the generous donations of home- and condo- owners in Roatan, we are able to sell $100 raffle tickets that could become your DREAM VACATION!

Never been to Roatan?  Know you will be returning to Roatan for that annual visit?  Have a friend that is coming to Roatan in the next 12 months?

Here’s a great opportunity to support SOL International Foundation and our programs while trying your luck at our annual drawing.   We sell no more than 100 tickets and last year had 1 beach-front house and 1 beach-front condo up for grabs!

We are now selling tickets for the Roatan Raffle.  Just click on the Donate Now button and remember to indicate “Roatan Raffle” on the dedication line.  Drawing will take place on September 1, 2013.  Every 10th ticket sold (20th, 30th, 40th…) will receive a FREE bonus entry into the drawing.


UPDATE: Natan Webster – Medical Scholarship recipient meets fundraising goal!

Exciting update!!!  Thanks to generous donations from numerous supporters, I have reached my fundraising goal for the next semester.

I still have a ways to go before graduation, if you would like to help me become a doctor with a mission and a message of hope,you still can do so by clicking on the “Donate Now” button,  just make sure to type ‘Natan Webster’ in the dedication line.

I appreciate all actions taken. Also SOL International has many other worthy programs that are making a huge difference in this community, take a little time and check their website out. Thanks to all who’ve donated thing you will be very pleased with the end result!


Sandy Bay SOL Sea Stars – U12 Girls Volleyball Honduran National Champions!

SOL International Foundation is proud to announce that the Sandy Bay Seastars U12 girls volleyball team has qualified to represent their country in the CODICADER Central American Student Athlete Games in Panama on July 12-18! 

 Last year, these girls won the National Tournament in San Pedro Sula and earned a spot in the CODICADER games that were held in Costa Rica.  However, due to an outstanding debt owed by the Honduran government in the amount of $19,000, all Honduran athletes were barred from participating.  The debt has since been cleared and Honduran student athletes will now be welcome to participate in the 2013 CODICADER Games in Panama!

The logistics and fundraising that will be necessary to make this dream a reality will no doubt be difficult, but we believe it is possible. 

 

We have already received a quote for the required uniforms and warm-up suits that will bear the CODICADER insignia and the HONDURAS lettering from a company in San Pedro.  The girls have also already received the sports physical examinations and have been signed off by the doctor as being physically fit to participate.  We have acquired the necessary official birth papers for each of the 8 girls that will travel.

 

We are currently investigating multiple means of transportation to Panama.  The Honduran government has stated that they can provide free overland travel by bus from Tegucigalpa to Panama and they can cover the overnight expenses in Costa Rica.  This bus would include not only our U12 girls volleyball team, but other Honduran student athletes as well.  As a potential alternative, we are looking into airline tickets from either Roatan or San Pedro Sula and have found prices as low as $375/person round trip. 

Once the team arrives in Panama, their lodging and food will be taken care of by CODICADER as a benefit of the $50/person entry fee.  This entry fee is due by May 31, and we have put in place some self-imposed benchmarks that we must complete before paying this entry fee.  These benchmarks include:

  • Power of Attorney drafted and signed by each of the parents of the athletes involved that will allow us to begin the passport application process. (7 of the 8 athletes will need to apply for passports.)
  • A full understanding of the passport application process and an appointment scheduled if possible.
  • Uniforms and warm up suits ordered from San Pedro with a delivery date set.
  • A second Power of Attorney drafted and signed by parents that will allow their children to travel outside of the country without their presence.
  • A budget to be completed with all foreseen expenses liberally estimated.
  • Corporate and private sponsors in place to assist with the funding of the trip. 

While these goals are quite industrious for the short time period that we have available, I believe that by meeting these self-imposed benchmarks we will be well on our way to a successful project.

In my opinion, the benefits of simply acquiring passports and the exposure to international travel alone are worth the investment in this project.  This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these girls and could have a significant impact on their development as young women.

To become a part of their amazing journey, click the “Donate Now” button and dedicate your donation to the Sandy Bay Sea Stars.


The John J. Wood “Field of Dreams”

The John J. Wood “Field of Dreams”

 August, 24, 2012

Over 5 years ago, the founders of SOL International Foundation had a dream of a youth baseball field.  This dream only became a reality due to a generous land lease from Daine Wood Etches and Marylynn Wood Hartsel, daughters of Catherine Wood and John J Wood – a life-long baseball fan for whom this field is named. 

 

Construction began under the watchful eye and guidance of Bill Etches in 2007.  In the summer of 2007, the first SOL youth baseball game took place on this field. 

 

Now 5 years later, thanks to Kelcy Warren, Richard Warren, RECO, the Roatan Rotary Club, and Green Hill Energy Solutions, we have the privilege of hosting the first ever night game in the Bay Islands!

 

There is a rich tradition of baseball on the island of Roatan, and SOL International Foundation is honored to continue in this tradition.  We hope this “Field of Dreams” continues to thrive as a community gathering area for years to come.


Meet Natan Webster – SOL Medical Scholarship recipient!

My name is Natan Webster and I am from the Roatan – a small island of the north coast of Honduras.  I’m currently studying medicine at the National Autonomous University of Honduras in Tegucigalpa.  My journey is an improbable one.  See, I was raised by a single mother in a third-world country were higher education is something that tends to be reserved for the higher classes.  But, my mom taught me that through hard work and dedication I could be anything I wanted!

I decided very early on that I wanted to dedicate my life to helping people and to making a difference in my community.  As a kid, I always figured there were four routes to do this: I could become a lawyer, a teacher, a preacher, or a doctor.  While going to high school at night, I worked at the local hospital in order to pay my way through school. It was while doing this and seeing the need for compassionate, service-oriented people inside the medical profession, that I became interested with the work that the doctors did and decided this was what I wanted to do with my life.

I quickly realized that this was not something I could afford.  I had worked my way through high school but medicine is a full-time program far away in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.  I would have been glad to take on some debt to cover the cost, but in this country college loans are basically non-existent. Understand this – I was not looking for a free ride, I just wanted an opportunity.

I decided to look around for some help and was able to miraculously secure a scholarship to cover a part of the cost!  I am now about to start my third semester at the university and need to raise money in order to continue in the program.  I have set a fundraising goal of 1200 U.S dollars to cover the cost of a semester at the university.  I know this is a lot of money and I might not be able to raise it, but I do want to exhaust every avenue.

I was asked a lot of times when I was starting the program more than a year ago: “Do you think its worth it? Do you think its worth it to leave your job? Do you think it is worth it to move to one of the most dangerous cities in the country? Do you think it is worth it to largely write of your twenties for this? Do you think its worth it?”

I spent a lot of time thinking about that and trying to come up with a perfect answer.  I never did come up with a perfect answer, but I would say this: “I can’t Imagine doing anything else.”  I want to make my life about helping people and alleviating human suffering.  I believe that this is the way that God would have me serve my fellow men; I believe that this is the way I can make a real difference in my life and the lives of those around me.

So I am asking you to invest in me, I am asking you to help me get through another semester at the University. I am asking you to help me to help others, because I believe it is worth it.

I hope you will consider helping me.