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Construction team plans for Honduras

BY HOLLY NYE | GRANVILLE, N.Y. | February 2, 1999

GRANVILLE, N.Y. (Feb. 2, 1999) -- Ten New England volunteers will be the

first interfaith work team to be sent to Honduras as a result of a new

partnership between the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and

Church World Service (CWS).

Sponsored by, The United Methodist Church's Troy Annual Conference, the

team was assembled in a matter of days and will be in Honduras Feb. 20-27,

doing block construction to repair and replace damaged buildings in

the Central American nation.

Roger Ellis, a veterinarian who is leading the team, said the effort has

been a chain of miracles. "Everything is happening so fast, but every

problem that's come up has been solved."

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has joined with Church

World Service, relief arm of the National Council of Churches, in a

two-year commitment to help rebuild areas devastated by last fall's


It is not the first time Ellis has worked in Honduras. In the past, he

shared his skills as a veterinarian through the Peace Corps Farmer to

Farmer program.

Within a week of learning of the need, Ellis said 10 people had signed up

and were making plans to check their passports and get their shots. Five,

including Ellis and his wife, Claudia, are members of the Granville, N.Y.,

United Methodist Church. Only one member of the team is a professional

building contractor. One is a Roman Catholic who manages the local

convenience store, and heard about the project because he was "unlucky

enough to sit next to me at Lion's Club meeting," Ellis said. Another is a

local businessman whose wife is pastor of two nearby United Methodist


Three are teachers at the Long Trail School in Dorset, Vt. Sarah Rath of the

Granville church, a Spanish teacher, recruited them. She will serve as

translator for the group.

All reside in Washington County, N.Y., or the neighboring Mettowee Valley of

Vermont, a rural region known for dairy farming.

The mission experience will be a first for several of the team members. The

availability of Rath to translate for the group was one of the links in the

chain of miracles that Ellis observed. Another is the offer of a motor home

to transport the team on its 200-mile overnight odyssey to and from Kennedy

airport in New York City.

Although the purpose of the team is to begin reconstructing buildings, Ellis

expects that he may also be called upon to offer veterinary services to

Honduran farmers. He is active with Heifer Project International, and is

eager to explore the impact of the hurricane on farmers in the region, and

how Heifer Project and UMCOR might help. Ellis said his previous experiences

in Central America with the Peace Corps and the Heifer Project are "the

reason this crazy veterinarian is going to Honduras for a week instead of on

a cruise!"

He hopes that team members will serve as a resource and catalyst to future

work teams, offering crucial information as well as inspiration from their

experience in Honduras. As they leave New York, each member will be carrying

the two suitcases allowed by the airline: one with clothing and personal

needs, the other with medicines, tools and other supplies to be donated to

the relief effort.

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