The COVID pandemic created hardships throughout the world. We all endured some pain, but we learned many things as well. In our Honduran villages, thanks to constant communication, we learned that even though we couldn’t be there physically, we could continue our work and help our brothers and sisters through the crisis.
Because of quarantine restrictions, our Honduran friends could not get out and purchase any food. We were able to send funds so that food could be purchased in bulk and distributed to those so desperate to receive it. In addition to two food distributions financed by the medical team, our community development team was able to provide funds twice for the purchase of beans, rice, corn, lard, sugar and coffee. Miguel Manueles, our in-country director, formed a team and distributed these critical items in the communities.
During a visit to the village of Aguacate in 2018, we noticed the local church was crumbling and in very poor condition. We took photos and upon our return home, we raised funds to rebuild it. The community all pitched in to complete needed repairs during the pandemic, and St. Vincent de Paul Church is now restored as a beautiful place of worship.
In 2021 the community of Guanacaste also requested help to perform much-needed repairs to their church. Again, due to the generosity of our donors for this project, and the hard work of the community, Our Lady of Suyapa Church has been revitalized.
During the first year of community development in 2013, we received a photo of baby Maria Melania playing on the dirt floor of her shack-home in Guanacaste. There are many poor housing conditions in Honduras, but this one especially played on our minds. We were relieved to learn that Maria Geraldina, the mother of Maria Melania and her two sisters, were able to move into the home of a relative. However, four years later, her relatives no longer had room for them and they needed to move. Maria Geraldina had no place to go with her family. We sent out an appeal to our donors, and we were able to fund the purchase of land and the construction of a new home. On Christmas 2020 the family moved into the new home that they now own. Maria Geraldina soon put in a vegetable garden that now provides enough food for them and even some extra to sell.
Access to water is always a struggle in the villages. When the only water pipeline in a community breaks, this is a serious problem. When we heard about this situation in the village of El Paterno, we recognized the urgent need and quickly responded with our support. We purchased a mile of new pipeline, and the community pitched in to install it. Life-saving water once again flows in El Paterno.
During 2020-2021 we continued to actively support our new water purification plant in San Marcos, providing inspections, training, and system upgrades. We led a major upgrade with the addition of a sediment tank to aid in the treatment of turbid water that occurs during the rainy system. The plant initiated delivery of water to distribution points using their local taxis. We conducted site assessments in two additional communities to explore the possibility of sponsoring additional purification plants. Our partners in the Living Waters for the World Honduran network provided crucial support in these efforts. Our proudest moment occurred when we were able to provide purified water to our own medical brigade that visited in 2021!
The village of Guanacaste is the poorest of our villages and lacks even the basics for their school. Each year we provide the students the necessary supplies and books. Each student receives a new uniform and new shoes. It is a joy for the children to receive these essentials and for us as well, when we see their smiles as they proudly display their new uniforms and shoes.
During the periods when COVID restrictions forced the closure of village schools, Professor Miguel went to each student’s home to deliver their schoolwork and materials. He spent time teaching the students and visiting their families.
Thanks to the WhatsApp instant messaging service, we are able to keep in touch with Miguel, our in-country director, on a daily basis. We never know what needs our communities may have for which we might be able to respond. But we are grateful to be a part of their lives and fortunate to be able to call them amigos. (20-23)