In the Southeastern region of Honduras tucked within the Teupasenti Valley lies a web of 249 villages connected by unpaved roads. Approximately 56,000 people live in these rural communities. With very few jobs in the valley and virtually no industrial growth, men are forced to seek employment elsewhere in order to provide for their families. Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere and like many of its Central American neighbors; it has experienced a turbulent history. The economic strife in Honduras can be attributed to a long line of exploitive systems. Dating back to the time of conquest, indigenous Maya and Lenca tribes were subject to the encomienda system under the jurisdiction of the Spanish crown. Natives were forced to pay tribute, primarily in the form of labor, and set to work in mines extracting silver and other minerals. Being a particularly mineral rich region, exploitation was severe—stripping the land of its natural resources and any monetary revenue that might be generated from it. After Spanish and Mexican occupation, Honduras became an independent republic in 1838. Since then, there have been nearly 300 civil wars and internal rebellions. The 2009 coup d’état and the subsequent condemnation by the UN further weakened their standing in the global market, making development even more difficult. To this day, it is heavily reliant upon foreign entities.
The agricultural sector makes up a large portion of the Honduran economy. However, export goods, cash cropping, such as fruits and timber which make up most of the harvests, contribute relatively little to economic growth. Other sectors, such as the manufacturing industry, are dominated by the maquila system. A product of globalization, the maquila industry allows foreign companies to employ factory workers to assemble and finish products for re-export. Cheap labor and tax exemptions in Latin America are ideal for big companies functioning abroad but give little back to workers. Furthermore, because cash cropping and outsourcing are almost entirely dependent upon the global market, fluctuations and recessions can be catastrophic. Due to these conditions, nearly 1 million Hondurans have migrated to the US in search of work. Remittances, money sent home from family abroad, make up approximately one fifth of Honduras GDP.
a devastating blow…On October 17, 1998 Hurricane Mitch tore through Central America, leaving a path of wreckage and destruction. The second deadliest hurricane to date, the death toll rose to 11,000 with an additional 11,000 missing over the course of a few weeks. The death rate in Honduras alone was 6,500 leave 1.5 million without homes to return to. Infrastructure, transportation, and croplands were rendered useless or non-existent. Moved by this tragic loss, the Children’s Rescue Mission (CRM) was formed. Miguel Giron, a Teupasanti native living in the US, returned to Honduras in search of his missing parents in the aftermath of the storm. Since then he has devoted his life to bettering the conditions and opportunities of the people in Teupasanti Valley.
While the need is vast in this region, the CRM is dedicated to bringing relief and education primarily to the underserved children in the villages. Roughly 80% of Teupasanti lives in extreme poverty, over half of whom are under the age of 15. Contaminated river water is used for drinking, bathing and cooking; because of this children are continually afflicted with waterborne illnesses. In hopes of rectifying this problem, Waterhope and the CRM plan to install a well, a filtration system and a distribution center in the village. By providing clean water to drink we hope to assist in the CRM’s goal of creating lasting sustainable self-reliance. As we proceed with our first project on this side of the world, we are reminded of what it means to serve others. Whether it is bringing water to a remote village in Africa or lending a hand to a family in our own home town, it is compassion that brings us together. That compassion knows no borders, pays no mind to skin color or religion and unites us all in our innate human nature. Together we are all brothers and sisters, together we are one.