The Need

 

 

House of poor familyOne of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere

Honduras, roughly the size of Tennessee has a population of approximately 8.5 million. It is a multi ethnic country of mestizo (Spanish and Indian) 90% Amerindian 7%, black 2% and white 1%.  Endowed by natural resources, much of the land is owned by multi national corporations or wealthy individuals. Its principal industries are sugar, coffee, textiles, clothing and wood products. The economy in recent years has experienced slow growth, but the distribution of wealth is polarized, and approximately 50% of the population lives below the poverty line.

Instability, hurricane Mitch, drug violence

Family at community pila in El TecuanFor a period of over one hundred and twenty years the government, now a democratic constitutional republic, was racked by instability and outside intervention.  In the 1980’s Honduras became the hub of U.S. involvement in proxy wars against insurgents in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. In 1998 Hurricane Mitch destroyed much of the Country’s infrastructure. Violence and corruption driven by the demand for illicit drugs in the U.S. has become a major threat to stability and is now a major impediment to progress. Despite all the people remain industrious, friendly and convinced that their future is more promising than their past.

Mud and stick houseThe Locomapa region is remote and has been poorly served

ACTS has been working in the mountainous region of Locomapa in the Department (State) of Yoro for over twenty-five years.  Villages are remote and some can be reached only by foot or on horseback.   Some of the communities are indigenous, and are often the poorest. Ironically the original inhabitants are least likely to hold titles to their own land.  While subsistence farming of corn and beans is the livelihood for most people, the economy of some of the indigenous villages is based entirely on the production and sale of charcoal. These people are the poorest of the poor.

View of El Rosario with school and housesImprovements in El Rosario

ACTS began working with the village of El Rosario in 1986. The community was very poor. Farming practices were primitive, access to medical care was difficult, potable water was not available and educational opportunities were extremely limited. El Rosario now is prosperous by the standards of Locomapa thanks in part to ACTS and our partners. The village now enjoys a good water system with distribution to every home; a medical and dental clinic with a full time nurse and regular visits by a physician and a dentist; a regional education center with a library and a computer lab; a government supported elementary school, a secondary school program; a micro bank for farmers; vastly improved agricultural practices and of course a winning soccer team.

The surrounding villages

Other villages in Locomapa, witnessing the progress in El Rosario have expressed interest in moving forward as well. Now ACTS and our partners are engaged with about thirteen villages and the number continues to grow. Some of these communities are as poor or poorer than El Rosario was thirty years ago. The leaders of El Rosario are now training leaders in other communities so that the impact of our efforts can be seen in a larger and larger region. The needs are many – better access to health and education, better housing, better sanitary conditions, better agricultural practices, among others. But the willingness of the villagers to work hard for a better future is unlimited.