Mayor to lead Honduras storm-recovery trip

By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer

Page 21

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner will be spending more than a week in Honduras in late March, building roads and shelters for the victims of Hurricane Mitch.

The mayor will be leading dozens of Toledo volunteers to three cities, where they will be helping to rebuild the infrastructure the storm destroyed.

“This is what life is all about, seeing a need and attempting to fill it,” the mayor said. “It will be rigorous, difficult work, but it will make a difference.”

Mr. Finkbeiner is trying to assemble up to 100 Toledo-area residents with skills useful for rebuilding. They will be transported to Honduras, likely by military plane, around March 14.

They’ll spend two weeks working long hours, living in tough conditions, and helping to restore facilities for the people of Honduras.

“This will not be some sort of a vacation,” said Barry Broome, the city’s development director, who is coordinating the effort. “This will be hard work in a hard place.”

The city is pushing hardest to find volunteers with health care skills, particularly nurses and physician’s assistants. Officials will be working with local hospitals and health care facilities to find them, but in addition, they are asking any interested people to send their resumes to the mayor’s office.

Engineers, construction workers, and child-care workers are asked to consider volunteering.

And while knowing Spanish is not an absolute requirement, it’s a big help, officials said.

Private corporations have donated about $45,000 to assist with the cost of transportation to Honduras for the volunteers, but about $15,000 to $20,000 more is needed.

Mr. Finkbeiner first asked for volunteers more than a month ago, but the federal agency coordinating the effort informed him yesterday about where and when the mission will take place.

Toledoans will be centered in three cities: Tegucigalpa, the nation’s capital; San Pedro Sula, in the mountainous northwest, and La Ceiba, on the Caribbean coastline.

Health care personnel likely will spend time in rural areas.

In those three cities, 300,000 people were left homeless by the storm and 600,000 were injured.

The mayor came up with the idea for the mission as a way to celebrate the city’s All-America status. Other All-America cities will be sending their own teams to Honduras.

Mr. Broome said that while other cities are sending the region food that will rot before it reaches people, Toledo will be sending a far more precious resource: skilled manpower.

“There’s so much being done that just isn’t helping,” he said.