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We’re always looking for Speaking Opportunities, vehicle & equipment donations, warehouse space (including temporary 3-4 months), and opportunities to coordinate logistics for other groups. Anything in good condition that could be used to teach something or would be good in the medical field. If you have something that you think we could use but isn’t listed, please contact us.
- Wheelchairs, crutches,braces, hospital beds,prosthetics
- Medical supplies- triple antibiotic, toothpaste, toothbrushes, used eyeglasses, gloves
- School Supplies- pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, books in Spanish, Spanish/English
- dictionaries, solar calculators, computers, flat screen monitors, laptops, art supplies
- Sports Equipment- soccer, soccer, soccer
- Vocational School Equipment:
- All types of sewing and knitting machines, welding and carpentry equipment
- All types of hand tools and small power tools, automotive equipment
- Clothing and shoes- children’s, sheets
- Musical instruments
We are a 501c3 non profit and can accept donations of old vehicles for their scrap value or better vehicles like ambulances and fire engines for use in Honduras, Contact Eddie at 413-645-2003
Dear Friends, I’m just back from Honduras and sorry to say that the shipment we all worked so hard to ship has not cleared customs in Honduras. I will let you know when it does and is distributed to those who need it. Also, we are very sorry for the murder of Berta Caceres, one of the leaders of the indigenous Lenca people, for whom we have provided aid.
The good news is that I spent nearly four weeks at our main project in Guaimaca. The building is in great shape and providing much-needed services to people in Guaimaca. The library is now bilingual. The encyclopedia donated by our Unitarian Universalist friends in Corpus Christi, Texas and other books (mostly Sonrisa’s) that were in storage have been cleaned and are now available for the many students in Guaimaca who are studying English.
Karen the librarian
Karen, our new librarian, is a certified teacher who is currently studying education at the university level. She told me that she knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was four or five years old. When she was little, all she ever played was school and she was always the teacher. When it was time for high school, her parents sent her to live and study at a special high school designed to prepare students to be kindergarten and first grade teachers. She graduated from that school and taught for one year at a small one-room school just outside Guaimaca. She lost that job for political reasons and entered into the university to continue her studies. She is very excited to work for us in our library and we are very happy to have her teaching reading and mathematics.
Honduran Green Cross
The Honduran Green Cross Base #7 has been using our ambulance for the last three or four years and has officially moved into our building. They have been using it for trainings and a supply depot while continuing to pay for a piece of property that will be the base, once they have built a building. Until that has happened the team will use our building for their office and clinic. They are operating a clinic that is staffed 24 hours a day, providing first aid services like cleaning wounds, including stitches and blood pressure tests. Doctors from the Green Cross will visit the clinic to provide consultations and more training. When necessary, the ambulance will be used to transport patients to the hospital. While I was there, they delivered a baby girl on the way to the hospital. There is currently interest in setting up a maternity clinic in our building, with the support of a local cooperative Savings and Loan. We have always been open to the ideas and the needs of the people who live in the neighborhood and would welcome this needed service.
Baking and pottery
The wood-fired oven is still being used to teach baking. Three classes took place while I was there. Mercedes, a neighbor, is our teacher. Mostly women take advantage of these classes and are encouraged to prepare dough in their own homes and bake in our oven.
We are building a wood-fired kiln for the ceramics classes, and have two instructors who want to teach. Although each has a different style of teaching and end-product, both are focused on producing marketable items. Years ago we received a rectangular kiln which we disassembled and put into boxes. Those bricks will be the foundation of this new kiln. The electric kilns that we have and have used for classes are very expensive to operate and are not how Hondurans produce pottery. As with the baking, students will be encouraged to use our kiln, after completing the training.
Paola, who has been teaching art in our building for the past few years, has graduated from the university in Tegucigalpa with a degree in art and ceramics instruction. We are looking forward to whatever help she can provdie.
Our front yard has always been the place for the youngsters to play soccer. Now, we have made goals and marked off the field. Some high school students want to do train the smaller children and the girls. While I was there I bought more balls and we used big soda bottles sinstead of buying training cones to aid in the training.
Beauty, English, computers, and music
We did a small survey asking what classes people were most interested in. Beauty, English, computers, and music were on top of the list. We set up our beauty classroom with a large mirror and three chairs. A young woman who has studied locally is going to teach everything from hair styling to pedicures. We have provided these classes before, and it is the type of class that prepares someone to go out and set up shop in their own homes.
Roser, a young man from Tegucigalpa, is waiting for the computers we sent in the container to teach basic computer skills on Saturday mornings. As with the beauty classes, we will supply the classroom and equipment while the students will pay the instructor, at 50 cents per hour.
The pianos, guitars, and violins are just waiting to be played. An ice cream vendor is still thinking about teaching violin and a local guitar teacher is still just talking about it. This is a good example of where our apartment upstairs comes in. It can sleep four or five people and with the purchase of the plywood and some work, we could accommodate four or five more.
volunteer opportunities in Central America
There are travelers and students from all over the world, including Tegucigalpa, looking for volunteer opportunities in Central America. We want to invite them and you to come and stay in our building without charge and teach something. It could be anything from violin to ceramics, baking to English, carpentry to math or any of the other things we have that can be used to teach. In the past we have had Italian, self-defense, massage therapy, bicycle mechanics, and even French. The possibilities are endless!
And all of this is happening in one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, in a country where parents are sending their children on the dangerous trip to the US to have just these opportunities. With your help we can provide all these opportunities and services.
$500 per month needed
I need your help today. To cover the cost of keeping this clinic and building open and in good shape, and to cover the cost of these dedicated instructors, I need at least $500 a month. Could you donate $100, enough for a class? How about enough for one week, $125? Could you get together with a few friends or your faith group to cover a month, $500? The cost for the 90 minute ambulance trip to the hospital is $100; could you cover one trip for someone who just can’t afford it? How about another soccer ball for $20?
Please consider becoming part of this great project. This year we are celebrating 20 years since Kelley, Sonrisa and I set off for Honduras. The Honduran people have been in my heart for very close to forty years and I can tell you they are the sweetest, warmest people I have ever known. Please get in touch with me if you have any ideas or if you would like to go with us to visit this project. If you want to learn Spanish, this project is a great place to start. I am always available to make presentations; let me know if your group would like to hear more or if you know of a group I should get in touch with.
Thanks for your time, Sincerely, Eddie O’Toole.
In addition to all the various kinds of equipment, tools, crafting supplies, bicycles, etc. that we always need, there always are many good uses for good old cash money! Your donation is tax-deductible.
Berkshire Amistad is a 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt NonProfit Organization.
Thanks for visiting the site. Right now we have a need for wheelchairs, crutches, soccer stuff, and carpentry tools like hammers and screw drivers etc. All this will help us fill in the nooks and crannies. We also, always need your financial support. Call me or donate on line. Thank you all, Eddie.
Link to an article about the project in the Berkshire Eagle.
This Martin Luther King jr. weekend, a Pittsfield family will celebrate 20 years of working for the people of Central America, by preparing another 40ft container with used dental/optical equipment, carpentry tools and equipment, pianos and much more. In 1996 the O’Toole family loaded up a used school bus with all Ed O’Toole’s mechanic tools, and drove the 6000 miles to Guaimaca, Honduras. The initial idea was to live and work for five years with a community that O’Toole got to know as a Peace Corps volunteer in the late seventies. Two years after they were in Guaimaca, hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras. Soon afterwards they received a $15,000 donation from Dick and Megs Dunn, now deceased, former members of the Unitarian Universalist of Pittsfield.
That donation turned the O’Toole’s five plan into living in Honduras for 13 years. First, they returned and disassembled a nursing home in Springfield, bought another bus and filled it with the parts of that nursing home. That bus was shipped from Delaware to Honduras and driven to Guaimaca. When the bus was unloaded and put back together, it was sold for the purchase price, plus the shipping cost and the airfare, leaving the O’Toole’s with the $15,000 and the used materials to build a building.
They then worked with the community to build two buildings. A smaller house-sized building, which currently has a library, and a larger building to be used as a vocational school. During the 13 years the O’Toole’s worked with the community, teaching mechanics, purchasing an ambulance here in Pittsfield to start an ambulance service and having classes in subjects areas such as, French, hair styling, Italian, English, ceramics, first aid, and many more.
In 2009 the O’Toole family returned to the Berkshires so their daughter, Sonrisa, could finish high school here and go on to college. When the Berkshire Hills School District built new schools, the O’Toole’s were offered the desks, filing cabinets and other school equipment. At this point they contracted with the shipping companies that deliver bananas from Honduras. These are refrigerated containers that look like tractor trailers must return to Honduras every week to be filled again.
The truck driver, after unloading bananas in Albany, Pittsfield or some other city, stops at a warehouse where a group of volunteers load the 40ft container with donated items. The last container included three hundred theater chairs donated by Berkshire School, along with medical equipment and school equipment. Hundreds of small bags with clothes and shoes were stuffed into the nooks and crannies. Today, preparations are in their final stages for another shipment to Central America.
On January 22nd after delivering bananas to our area, the truck driver will stop at a warehouse in West Stockbridge to fill the container with all the donations. What is needed now are small items to fill those nooks and crannies like:
- soccer shoes and equipment,
- good, clean clothing and shoes,
- school supplies,
- wheelchairs and crutches,
- and carpentry tools.
Donations can be dropped off in Pittsfield at 43 Taylor St. or in West Stockbridge at 186 Gt Barrington Rd (41). The warehouse will be open from 9am to 3pm January 9th and 16th for people to see the donations or anytime by making an appointment which can be made by contacting Eddie O’Toole at 413-645-2109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.