History of ACTS

 

ACTS early days, staying in tentsThe beginnings

In 1986, during a time of war and turmoil in much of Central America, a group of parishioners from the Franconia N.H. Congregational Church established Americans Caring Teaching Sharing (ACTS) and traveled to Honduras to promote peace and justice through community development.  They used their energies and limited resources on El Rosario, a village of farmers in the highlands of northwestern Honduras.

All volunteer 

In 2002 ACTS became a nonprofit tax-exempt 501©3, non-sectarian organization.  Hundreds of volunteers have contributed thousands of hours over the past decades to this undertaking. Although many of the active members now reside in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire other participants are scattered through New England and beyond. ACTS is governed and sustained by volunteers.  Teams travel to Honduras approximately five times a year, but never for more than two weeks, to help to move the projects along.

Broad community development focus

The over-arching focus of ACTS is community development which we see as a process which encompasses health, education, medical care, economic diversification, expanded opportunities in elementary and secondary education, water systems, latrines and stoves. It includes improving agricultural practices, introducing new crops and expanding markets. It is concerned with such diverse activities as reforestation, micro banking and improved nutrition.

Expanded to include surrounding villages

Over a period of two decades, and with the help of local leaders in El Rosario, the program has gradually expanded to include about a dozen communities surrounding El Rosario.  ACTS has developed a close working relationship with the villagers. The imagination of the villagers for programs to promote a better life for themselves and future generations is limitless. The villagers set the priorities and do much of the labor. ACTS provides a diversity of skills, guidance, material resources and hands on help. The result has been a remarkably successful example of community development on a scale that is sustainable.

Partners

ACTS has recruited partners in this undertaking including Sustainable Harvest International Inc., the Northeastern University Chapter of Engineers Without Borders and The Children’s Initiative. ACTS has had helpful associations with Dartmouth College, the Giesel School of Medicine, The Norris Cotton Cancer Center, The University of New Hampshire Keene State College and others. Recently, the list of partners has expanded in both the US and in Honduras. Dartmouth Alumni and Students for Honduras (DASH) manages the annual spring Fuerza project with young Hondurans. La Liga Contra el Cancer and PESCA in Honduras, the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, the Center for Genomics and Advanced Testing at Dartmouth, and ACTS  are working together on the cancer screening and prevention program. We have received valuable support from Coverys, the Academy of Dentistry International, the Zondervan Foundation, New Holland Apparel, the Lyme Bargain Barn (NH), and the United Church of Dorset (VT), among others.  (See Partners)