Exiting With Love in Honduras
March 22, 2017
As we wrap up work on several projects in Honduras, we are experiencing those bittersweet moments when we part ways with people we love and respect, but joyfully bolstered by the confidence that they are on new paths to economic security for themselves, and promising growth for their communities.
In Progreso, we wish God’s blessings on Raul, as he embraces full responsibility for both the Survival Skills home and the retail shoe operation that will support it. He has received a second container of shoes without Just Hope support and has buyers in place to resell the shoes on the retail market. With valuable lessons learned from his experience with the first container, Raul has the tools and knowledge to earn a profit from this load, which will support the Survival Skills home as well as his gym, both of which are intercepting young people and diverting them from lives of dependence and danger.
The boys now living in the Survival Skills home – Kevin, Alvin, Denilson, and Denilson’s nine-year-old brother Sammy – are thriving in the gym, in MMA competitions, in school, and at the home. Kevin will graduate from the home this year and plans to continue with both his education and his professional fighting career. In fact, Kevin is scheduled to fight in Tegucigalpa for the Amateur Championship Title in the 145-pound weight class, a championship he is expected to win. Raul’s love and compassion for these boys has been an inspiration to those around him, and he has been recognized as an agent of social change, with the national Yo Emprendo award for social entrepreneurialism. His success as a business owner is also proof positive to us that he will continue to be an effective mentor to boys needing an alternative to the lives they were born into. Raul, his business CrossGym and five of his fighters were recently awarded the “Most Outstanding” Coach, Gym and Athletes by a notable martial arts organization in Honduras.
In Monterrey, at the banana plantation, Orlando has achieved every single one of his goals, even surpassing a few, and we couldn’t be prouder. He set out to plant a banana farm that would employ local workers needing jobs, and in one year, he and between 12 and 40 workers every week cleared, planted and maintained 15 acres of dwarf banana trees. A rolling harvest began in January, and every week the team loads up a truck full of healthy fruit for the buyer, who, according to Phillip, is beside himself with the quality of the produce and hopes Orlando will expand his operation. This harvest likely will last through April. The nature of these banana trees is that after the first harvest, most of the trees will sprout again and produce fruit in as little as six months, so Orlando can realize another harvest from the same crop. A third harvest is even possible, but Orlando is already planning to add onto the farm. With the proceeds from his first harvest, he can keep his workers employed in maintaining the first field and starting a new one.
People employed by the farm have been quick to express their gratitude for steady work, and for the difference that work has made in their lives. Being able to work near home and do the same job day after day has brought many of them “peace and tranquility,” because, before the farm, many of them had to go into the city and hustle for work every day. Some of them, women especially, didn’t work at all because they couldn’t leave their children behind. Having a steady income has made it possible for them to care for their families and provide food, medicine and education in a stable way that wasn’t happening before. Orlando himself calls the farm a “dream accomplishment,” that has brought year-round work to Monterrey and surrounding villages. “You have helped me help my community,” Orlando wants to tell the supporters of Just Hope. “Thank you for making this project possible.”
We thank God for Raul, for Orlando, and for all the people in their orbits who are willing to work hard for a better life. It takes all of us together, and it takes the love and hope of God.