Search This Blog

Subscribe By Email

Get Blog Posts Sent by Email

About This Blog

How to Comment on Blog Posts

The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Siguatepeque

Siguatepeque is the name of a small city of perhaps 65,000 people in Honduras. For me, however, it will probably always be the site of a special school and the culmination of a truly remarkable story. An abbreviated version of that saga follows.

Until January 20th I had never heard of Siguatepeque. It was our sixth day in Honduras, and Al Wigood announced to the World Accord build team that we were going on a field trip. In part, this was to help load a truck with some scaffolding we needed to complete our work, plus a variety of other supplies. More to the point, however, the trip was to show us a special school for the handicapped in that city. While the school was all new to me, its existence was known to many of the Western Canada members of our team.

Ready to Head Out on the Highway!

Consequently, we piled into the back of Al’s pickup and headed off at full speed down the highway. While this is not something we are used to in Canada, it seems to be one of the most common means of travel in Honduras.

To start at the beginning, the Canadian connection to this school really begins with Magdalene Marie Ungstad from Edmonton, better known to everyone as Mag.

Mag Ungstad in 2010

In the 1960s, Mag adopted a child from South Korea, a little girl whose name was Me Ai. Me Ai had a physical disability resulting from Polio and a childhood dislocated hip that caused her to walk with a limp. She was Mag’s pride and joy.

Me Ai grew up and married, providing Mag with three beautiful grandchildren. Then in 1992, Me Ai and two of the children, seven year old Kristi and two year old Tyler, were killed when their van was hit by a train. Me Ai’s nine year old son Matthew was seriously injured but managed to survive.

In the years following this tragedy, the desire grew in Mag to do something significant in memory of Me Ai, Kristi and Tyler. A strong supporter of World Accord, Mag met Terry Fielder at Hills of Peace Camp one summer and discussed the plight of children in the world and a suitable opportunity for her support.

Meanwhile, in Siguatepeque, a group of parents had formed an organization seeking to create a special school for disadvantaged children. This was only the third such organization in all of Honduras where social support for such children and their families is not common. These children have a variety of challenges including Downs Syndrome, Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and Brain Damage caused by Convulsions. In conjunction with World Accord, the group managed to build the first phase of the school; three classrooms and unfurnished washrooms, however the school remained incomplete. Phase two of the school was needed before it could open.

The (now) Nearly Finished Siguatepeque School

I’m sure you can see where this is going. These two parts of the story came together like a marriage made in heaven. The fact that this is a school for children with handicaps was a wonderful fit with Mag’s dream because of Me Ai’s disability, and she decided to see the school completed.
Al Wigood with the Commemorative Plaque which Reads (in Spanish):
This School Was Constructed in Memory of Kristi, Tyler, and MeAi Harder.


When our team arrived at the site on January 20th, we were met by some of the parents and members of the board.
Family and Board Members with the World Accord Team

The school construction was nearly complete: the walls were up, the roof was on, the floors were installed, and the windows had been purchased. The obvious question was, when would the school open? To our surprise, the answer was, "We don't know!" It turns out that at least one more hurdle remained to be overcome. The problem was that there was no sidewalk, and the children, some of whom are in wheel chairs or use walkers, could not get from the street to the school without one. Oh...well, how much would that cost? The answer was about $800.00 for the necessary cement, sand and gravel; not a huge sum in Canada but well beyond the reach of most people in Honduras.
The View of the School from the Street, with No Sidewalk

Upon returning home, the problem of the missing sidewalk continued to percolate in the minds of the Western members of our team, most of whom are acquainted with Mag personally. While we in Canada East were raising money for a new Casa for Reyna and Pablo, the folks from Canada West were raising money for a sidewalk. They went to work, and in a matter of days, the necessary funds were available. Consequently in the heat of March, Al, Jens, Freddy and their team will build a sidewalk so a group of children in Siguatepeque, Honduras can go to school. It is the end of the beginning of a wonderful story.

Isn’t it amazing how easily the lives and stories of people around the world can come together when we open the eyes of our hearts and catch a glimpse of what God’s Spirit would like to see happen?

Special thanks to Stephen Thompson and Mag Ungstad for clarifying some details of this story.

Posted by Carman

5 comments:

  1. What a beautiful story of love and generosity!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. WOW...

    it is so wonderful to experience the movement of God's people, in projects that promote the worth of persons... i am very grateful you shared this Carman!

    what a blessing your trip to honduras has been... to the people in honduras and to those of us "back home" who get to contribute, in small ways, to making big things happen...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just as an addendum to this story, Mag was also the person who raised more than $100,000 to build the center for World Accord's partner in Guatemala, Mujeres en Accion. Women in Action. That too was eventually dedicated to the memory of Kristi, Tyler and MeAi Harder. It is called El Centro MeAi - The MeAi Center. Thank you Mag for all you have done to make the world a better place for many, many people.
    David

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. David, Thanks for sharing this. I knew that Mag had a long-standing interest in Mujeres en Accion and was a supporter, but was not aware of the information you shared. Mag is definitely a person who makes a difference in our world.

      Delete
  4. My link to Mag is through my mom Helen Breitkreutz (Moritz) nee Slager (deceased Nov 30 2009) who when she was alive, told me many stories about the intrepid Mag and her family. I can also remember the day my mom shared with me about Mag's loss of her daughter and grandchildren. It must be at least 25 or30 years since I heard Mag's voice but it's as clear in my head as if it was yesterday. If anyone could motivate a building project,it would be Mag. Daniel Breitkreutz

    ReplyDelete