We are often asked Why Honduras? “Why all this time, energy and money in Honduras? Why not Mexico, or Africa, and the U.S. right here in our own back yard?”
Honduras is about the size of the state of Tennessee, and has a population of 7.3 million people. Half the population is under 15 years of age, and the average wage-earner only makes about $2 a day. Job opportunities are limited—farming or unskilled labor in the cities.
Honduras is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, second only to Haiti. Three-fourths of the country is rugged mountains, leaving little land to support agriculture. Infrastructure, once outside the main cities, is minimal. Many remote villages are barely reachable on unpaved roads frequently washed out by mudslides. Many are without electricity, and water is often carried by hand from the closest streams or rivers. The ground water is contaminated, and most villagers suffer from water-borne parasites.
Honduras is made of 18 different states, and Honduras Good Works focuses its efforts on the region of El Paraiso, one of the country’s poorest states. For many of the villagers we serve, our medical missions provide the only medical treatment they receive. Our medical mission goes to Honduras every July. To date, we have provided medical care for over 33,000 underserved Hondurans. Government supported education stops at the sixth grade. Continuing school beyond the sixth grade must be paid by parents, and for the poor that means education stops, period. That’s where Honduras Good Works helps. Our Secondary Education Scholarship Program is supporting 140 students from these rural villages continue their education beyond the sixth grade and hopefully graduate from high school.
Employment throughout the country tops 40%, but in the rural villages it is practically nonexistent. Male adults migrate to the larger cities to find jobs as unskilled laborers, leaving the women to raise the children and manage the households. Honduras Good Works is developing a Microfinance Program to teach villagers, mainly single mothers, how to develop a small business that will generate income for their families. Through an extension of “microcredits”, these women have access to capital to start a small enterprise: raising chickens or pigs, a sewing enterprise, a bakery, or another entrepreneurial effort to generate income. Microfinance is the best solution, worldwide, to alleviating poverty; and Honduras Good Works is doing its share to bring this concept to the impoverished rural villages.
Access to clean drinking water is another challenge faced by the rural villages. Surface water is contaminated, and even wells have unsafe levels of mineral deposits. Honduras Good Works is now partnering with other organizations to develop appropriate water systems for the rural villages we serve. Imagine being able to turn on a tap in your home and have clean drinking water flowing! For centuries, this has been unimaginable for rural villagers. Having accessible, clean drinking water not only solves health issues but also delivers a level of freedom these villagers have never known.
Most of these villagers have no church or clergy. Wherever we go, we reflect the Face of Christ in our programs. We are helping villages build their own churches. In 2011 we consecrated the first church. In 2012 we are working on two more.
Why Honduras? Because we are called to do good works and because we believe we can and do make a difference—one soul at a time.
You did not choose me; I chose you. And I gave you this work: to go and produce fruit, fruit that will last.