People living in and around the municipality of Quimistan in Honduras benefit from the efforts of the Honduras Agape Foundation. There are also rewards for the Aiken-based organization’s volunteers.
“We find that we see God and Jesus in our work, and we touch people,” said Alan Moses, who has made six trips to Honduras. “When a 76-year-old man, who has been given a pair of glasses, turns and looks out of a doorway and says, ‘I can see the mountains again,’ it is something that warms your heart.”
Moses is a member of the foundation’s board and the chairman of the multi-denominational Christian organization’s Awareness and Development Committee.
“We help people better themselves,” Moses said.
In the fall of 1998, Hurricane Mitch dropped huge amounts of rainfall in Honduras and other Central American countries. Thousands of human lives were lost during catastrophic flooding.
In response, South Aiken Presbyterian Church began a foreign mission ministry to Quimistan and got involved in rebuilding homes.
But it soon became clear that new residences wouldn’t solve all the problems mission participants saw, so they started looking into performing additional tasks. Meanwhile, various civic groups and other churches pitched in to assist. Many were in Aiken and nearby, but others that didn’t have local ties wanted to contribute.
In January 2003, The South Carolina Project Agape Foundation was formed. Four years later, the name was changed to the Honduras Agape Foundation because support for the organization was coming in from locations far beyond the Palmetto State’s borders.
“The sources of our donations are literally worldwide,” Moses said. “Only 6 percent or less of the money goes for administrative costs. The rest of it goes directly to meet the needs of the people in Quimistan and outlying villages.”
The foundation’s budget is about $200,000 annually, and it sends six to eight mission teams to Honduras each year.
“Our volunteers range from teenagers to folks in their 80s, and they pay their own way,” Moses said. “Their out-of-pocket expenses are roughly $1,000.”
While in Central America, the foundation’s volunteers complete construction projects. They distribute and show people how to use biosand filters to make drinking water safer. They also modify traditional wood-burning stoves so they use less wood and the smoke they produce doesn’t fill kitchens.
Other aid provided by volunteers includes medical and dental care and education-related support. In addition, they distribute Bibles and additional religious goods to churches.
“We preach the love of Jesus Christ, but we don’t push any one particular denomination,” Moses said. “We serve anyone who is in need.”
For more information, call Moses at 803-257-4696 or visit hondurasagape.us.
Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C., she is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.