Yudy’s Graduate Story

By Olivia Loveday and Carol Frey

One of the strongest aspects of Leadership Mission International (LMI) as an organisation is its sense of community. When our students graduate, their story with us isn’t ending: it’s only just beginning. This brings us to volunteer Carol Frey, a member of the Communications Committee and a sponsor, who is working on grant funds towards clean drinking water and improved sanitation with The Leadership Center’s (TLC) neighbouring community. This is her testimony of the recent achievements of Yudy Melani Canelas Tabora, one of our alumni. 

During her time at TLC, Yudy proposed a project she believed would help the women of La Mayo. A small grant from LMI would support materials for making jewellery and purses that the women of her community could sell to achieve their own goals. With the backing of their church and its pastor, the women described a novel feeling of power in their lives. Yudy was able to recognise that empowerment enabled by the encouragement and education she’d received at TLC during her 2 years of education as part of Cohort 5.  

As economic damage rippled through Honduras in 2020 from the COVID-19 pandemic, Yudy and her college roommates, all studying at the Universidad Autonoma de Honduras in San Pedro, couldn’t stand by whilst others lost their jobs and went hungry. Together they applied for an LMI grant to support an effort similar to Yudy’s La Mayo project. When the grant funds arrived, they bought large amounts of food and called on the support of a local organisation of young Rotarians inspired to contribute humanitarian services. Yudy said the Rotary Club helped her and her friends distribute not only foodstuffs but also piglets people could raise as a source of future income. 

Back in the U.S., the Rotary Club served as a vehicle for TLC volunteer Carol Frey to serve the people of Honduras while she and her teams are unable to travel internationally. Her club leaders work tirelessly to support them, but their efforts to seed one locally have yet to bear fruit. Carol introduced her club’s international chairwoman to Yudy and her Rotary friend Jonathan Yanes in a zoom meeting last summer. Jonathan, who is an architect by profession, presented a budget of $1,300 worth of equipment and materials to transform an orphanage’s empty storage room into a kindergarten classroom. Yudy and Jonathan presented their project to the club, which greeted their idea favourably, pending the outcome of fall fundraising exploits. Fortunately, the club managed to earn more money than they had budgeted towards philanthropic projects in North Carolina, the Dominican Republic, Kenya and elsewhere. The club’s board members therefore voted in December to accept the grant proposal and offer the $1,300 grant to the Rotaract Universitaria y Professional in San Pedro. 

Yudy announced that the work had begun at the orphanage in March, and she had already finished by mid-April (with community development projects now in the works in La Mosquitia). We’re also happy to say that she will go on her club’s board of directors at the beginning of the next Rotary year, on July 1st. She recently told us: “TLC makes us very competitive because we are bilingual”.

Another ethical leader is stepping up to help her country, and we couldn’t be more proud.