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Projecto Honduras: Gala supports Federal Way couple's humanitarian mission
Disasters don’t have to be cataclysmic in the isolated mountain village of Belaire in Honduras. Everyday occurrences afflicting the local population of indigenous people sound like a litany of Biblical plagues — tainted water, biting insects, poisonous reptiles, diseased livestock, skin diseases, infant mortality.
The villagers in this Central American country are poorly equipped to resist the daily onslaught of their worst enemies — poverty, ignorance, official neglect and geographic isolation. Even the country’s name of Honduras (“depths” in Spanish) is rumored to have originated with explorer Christopher Columbus’ exclamation of extreme relief upon emerging safely from the steamy depths of its forbidding jungles.
One local Federal Way charitable organization, Projecto Honduras (visit ProjectHondurasInternational.org), tackles the same insurmountable problems faced by early explorers, using a combination of chutzpah, old-fashioned “elbow grease” and community generosity to combat the social ills besetting such a remote part of the world.
Since 2002, husband-and-wife team Jose and Evelyn Castellar have made a semi-annual humanitarian pilgrimage to more than 40 communities in Honduras. Along with a dedicated cadre of volunteers, the organization provides “education support, humanitarian aid such as food, clothing, shoes, household items, and community programs with a park and a soccer field.”
A successful local business owner, Projecto’s president Evelyn Castellar is passionate about her chosen mission in life: “I went to Honduras for my own personal health issues and for some rest and relaxation. When I saw the conditions that most of my neighbors lived in, I was compelled to help, never thinking that this would become my life’s work. I admit to being consumed by this project but I have seen little children die needlessly from easily curable diseases. Their faces are always on my mind as the tears of the mothers tear at my heart.
“The people living in the cloud forests of Honduras are wonderfully kind and help me whenever I ask. They give what they can and deserve to live their lives free from malaria and other tropical diseases, free to pursue their dreams for a better life through good schools and a good education, free to provide for themselves and their families.
I feel uniquely privileged to be involved with more than 40 communities in Honduras and with the wonderful volunteers and benefactors from the U.S. who make it all possible.”
Oct. 23 gala
A high point of the Federal Way autumn social scene is Projecto’s annual gala, a glittering fundraiser combining a sumptuous dinner with a Latin flair, scrumptious desserts, Latin music and multiple exhibits about the organization’s humanitarian projects.
This year’s affair, “Jewel of Copan: A Mayan Adventure,” celebrates the glories of Honduras’ ancient past and its modern-day accomplishments. This year’s event on Oct. 23 promises to be much larger than previous venues, occupying two floors of the Castellars’ sleek multi-purpose center located in a quiet commercial area of Federal Way.
Guests will be transported to the exotic tropical world of the Mayan culture through the creative staging of original wall art, indigenous textiles and crafts throughout the facility. Dinner, dessert and multiple exhibits will occupy the first floor, and guests can dance till 11 p.m. on the second level to music provided by several local bands and professional dancers demonstrating the latest dance moves.
With the proceeds from the gala event, Projecto funds a free medical clinic, a malaria control center and needed assistance in education, housing, goods and social development. Gala guests will experience the organization’s multiple social services through numerous on-site photographic exhibits as well as through eyewitness testimony from medical and other volunteers hosting each exhibit.
"Jewel of Copan: A Mayan Adventure" runs 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at Intellipass, 1925 S. 341st Place, Federal Way. Contact: (253) 831-2100.