July 2, 2005: Headlines: COS - Honduras: Service: Greensburg Daily News: Carol Mauer leads Mission Group to Honduras

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Honduras: Peace Corps Honduras: The Peace Corps in Honduras: July 2, 2005: Headlines: COS - Honduras: Service: Greensburg Daily News: Carol Mauer leads Mission Group to Honduras

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Carol Mauer leads Mission Group to Honduras

Carol Mauer leads Mission Group to Honduras

The idea came about last fall, when her daughter joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Honduras.

Carol Mauer leads Mission Group to Honduras

Mission Group Makes a Difference in Honduras
Paul Glasser

Thousands of miles and a whole world away, it may be difficult to understand how one mud trench could revolutionize the lives of villagers in the small town of Neuvo Conception in Honduras.

For one week in June, 16 volunteers from the Imma-culate Conception Parish in Milhousen worked on community projects in two tiny Honduran villages, including a water reservoir, library, malnutrition center and a mud trench designed to house water pipes. The villagers in Neuvo Conception walk two miles every day to pick up water to cook and clean and the new system will make their lives much easier. On the verge of tears, local men expressed their thanks in a five-minute message recorded on a digital camcorder by volunteers as they prepared to leave.

“They were so incredibly grateful,” said mission trip director Carol Mauer. “It made everyone feel so bles-sed.”

Mauer, a special education teacher, worked for months to help prepare and plan the mission trip and eventually ended up in Honduras herself. The idea came about last fall, when her daughter joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Honduras too. Mauer discussed the idea with the parish youth and brought the idea before the whole congregation. Between January and June 13, Mauer made sure all the necessary supplies were purchased, all the correct papers were in order and all the volunteers got their vaccinations.

“I was always wondering if God had called me to do something in life besides teach,” Mauer said. “He started speaking to me and I knew He wanted me to do it.”

It cost about $1,200 to send each volunteer to Hon-duras and back, and the group took tons of supplies with them, including baby formula, work clothes, vitamins, medicine, toys, books and bibles. Almost all the costs were funded through contributions and the parish has enough money left over to send down a shipment of Spanish-language books once the library is complete.

“I really feel blessed to live in Decatur County,” Mauer said. “Whenever there is a need, the community has always rallied to support it.”

The mission trip brought enough toys, balloons, soccer balls and dolls to give every single of the 1,200 native children something to play with. The group also left behind dozens of sets of work outfits, including gloves and boots. They had partnered with a veteran mission group from South Dakota, who advised them to include every family in their efforts.

“You can’t empower one man with gloves and ignore another,” Mauer said. “We couldn’t just give things away, we had to make sure they went to people who needed it.”


And in Honduras, the need was very dire. Many families

lived in small shacks made of bricks or sticks with dirt floors. The women cooked tortillas and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while the men worked on farms for $2 a day. There was no running water and malaria was rampant throughout the country side. Mauer said the experience made everyone appreciate how lucky they are to live in a free and affluent society.

“It was an extremely humbling experience,” she said. “We take so much for granted and waste so much. God blesses us with so much and asks us to give so much in return.”

In addition to the water trench, volunteers helped construct a water cistern and established a community li-brary in nearby El Guante.

They also visited a malnutrition center run by two catholic nuns and witnessed, first-hand, the true hardships of life in Honduras. The volunteers entertained and socialized with nine children ravaged by hunger and were so weak they could little more than lounge around in the heat and clouds of flies.

“They were so stoic be-cause they had missed out on being loved and nurtured,” Mauer said. “It was heart-breaking because they will never have a chance. We cried so hard for them.”


What they saw and experienced in Honduras caused terrible emotional stress among the volunteers, but local traditions also caused hardship. The mission volunteers relied on Mauer’s daughter to translate everything for them. The volunteers plan on returning and are taking Spanish classes now.

“The language barrier was very frustrating,” Mauer said. “But it was a learning experience on both ends.”

The government of Hon-duras requires schoolchildren to learn English, but teachers are frequently on strike and the schools are closed.

“It really makes you understand why people immigrate to America,” Mauer said. “It truly is the land of plenty.”

Honduran society is also very traditional, and the female volunteers had to wear long pants and long-sleeves at all times. The natives also had a difficult time working with or taking orders from female volunteers.

“It’s a very macho culture,” Mauer said.

“They treat women very poorly.”

The volunteers also had a very tough time accomplishing their tasks and meeting specific deadlines because the people of Honduras take things slow. Part of the reason things go slowly is because efficiency eliminates jobs, and that’s bad for the locals. Work on the water tank was supposed to start at 8 a.m., but the project manager didn’t show up until he finished lunch at 11 a.m.

“They just don’t get in a hurry,” Mauer said. “Today turns into tomorrow and the next day before things get accomplished.”


Although the trip was frustrating at times, and emotionally draining at others, the volunteers know they accomplished good things.

The library will soon be open and the local water system will allow the villagers to become more productive.

A new rain-water collection system will also improve conditions.

“We definitely had an impact,” Mauer said.

But, the volunteers themselves were changed by the experience. Nobody wanted to get on the plane and fly back home.

“It was one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life,” Mauer said.

Like her daughter’s experience in the Peace Corps, the time abroad has made everyone on the trip a more conscientious and humble person.

“We’re so much more aware of social justice now, especially in Honduras,” Mauer said.

“It was really a moving experience.”

When this story was posted in June 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Greensburg Daily News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Honduras; Service


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