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Local group set to help Hondurans

Volunteers will complete two buildings and hold dental and hearing screenings.

Volunteers from Luzerne County will spend a week helping the less fortunate in an impoverished Central American republic this February.

Twenty-four volunteers from Operation Honduras, including 12 from Luzerne County and three from around Scranton, will travel to the economic center of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to complete building a three-room schoolhouse and a single-family home Feb. 17 through 24.

“We’re happy to do this; it’s fun,” group President Jim Davenport said. “Do we want credit for doing this? No. The reward of doing this is already more so than we could imagine.”

The group will also hold free dental and hearing aid screenings while in Honduras, Davenport said.

Operation Honduras is based at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilkes-Barre, but takes its members and volunteers from other area churches and organizations, including the Church of Christ Uniting in Kingston and the Rotary Club.

Davenport, a former member of the Peace Corps, founded the group in 1997 after visiting an orphanage in the country and seeing a need for help. He returned with four others that same year to help repair and improve the building, and the nonprofit group was born.

“It was a rewarding experience,” Davenport said. “They were just the most beautiful kids you’d ever want to see.”

It was also in 1997 that Davenport met a young Honduran girl others had taken for deaf. Volunteers discovered the girl was not totally deaf but hard-of-hearing. They raised funds to buy her a hearing aid, the first purchased by the group’s Gift of Sound program.

Partnering with hearing-aid manufacturer Starky Laboratories, the group has fitted and given out more that $1.8 million in hearing aids, 1,000 since March of 2010 alone, Davenport said.

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Its per-capita gross national product was only $1,649, less than one-third of the Central American average, according to United Nations data.

For more information about the trip and Operation Honduras, visit www.operationhonduras.com or contact Jim Davenport at 970-0650.

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