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Tuesday
Dec112012

Moving Toward Self-Sufficiency: Monica Maher

My eagerness for the October mission trip was overwhelming.   Most of the missionaries had been several times before and confidently spoke about the trip like a routine, but I still did not know what to expect.  After weeks of trip planning and research I could finally go see what the ministry was all about.  I had the chance to get to know our Honduran teammates and to meet some of the people who benefit from the ministry. 

I had braced myself for several of the culture shocks associated with Honduras.  I remained calm as we landed on the short runway, drove on washed out mountain roads, and passed by several police and military checkpoints.  I didn’t get sick from the food or mosquito bites.  My Spanish was good enough that I understood what was going on and I could make Honduran friends.  The things I expected to struggle with turned out fine.

The biggest shock for me was a pleasant surprise.  On a few occasions, I met people with an encouraging attitude of hope for self-reliance.  I met a few community leaders who are aware of the many struggles faced by impoverished Honduras.  They do not simply wish for hand out or for a small project that would provide a little bit of comfort.  They strive for a nation that can help itself, for sustainable projects that are supported by Hondurans.  They have a vision of a self-sufficient Honduras. 

Honduras is past the point of needing short term relief aid.  Some Hondurans are stepping up and taking responsibility for the destiny of their country and leading efforts to help those in need.  They want to work with aid organizations to develop sustainable projects that are eventually lead and grown by Hondurans.  This gives me new, unexpected sense of optimism for these developing communities. 

My first encounter with this mindset was with our TWM Honduran teammates.  The day before the H&H class began, we had a meeting with the three H&H directors Marlene, Mayra and Karol.  After an overview of how the lessons would be taught, we moved on to training the directors about handling the expenses for a class.  Their commitment and willingness to take on new responsibilities is helping to make TWM a sustainable and growing effort in Honduras.  They learned how to write receipts for paying the teachers and for expensing teaching supplies and transportation costs.  We went through the budget of a typical class and discussed what expenses could be cut or reduced.  It was great to see their interest in taking charge of the program and ensuring its future success. 

Later in the trip, I went out with the site-selection team to check potential places for future wells.  We were lead by a Dean of the Honduran diocese, Reverenda Maria Consuela.  She had countless stories of the problems found among the poor both in rural communities and in Tegucigalpa.  But she also had several examples of programs that were successful in helping these people in need.  International aid is making a difference for many underprivileged people and the most successful efforts are carried out by Honduran relief workers.  She gave us a button from her purse that read “Welcome to the new Honduras.  Self-sufficient 2019” and explained the goal of developing current and future aid efforts to eventually be run by Hondurans. 

Our last stop on the site-selection expedition was to a community that made an extra effort to remind us of their application for a well.  As we walked around the plot of land we noticed the adjacent property had two modest buildings that appeared to be set up for some small scale agricultural industry.  We took this as a good sign that the community has at least some economic endeavors even if they are currently lacking a water source. 

A man approached us and asked if we were there about the water well.  He introduced himself as a community leader and expressed his excitement for the possibility of getting a well.  He described the community and the need for water.  Then he astonished us by asking how much the community should pay for the well.  He suggested that the villagers could build a driveway for our equipment before we come to drill and asked what else we would want help with.  Sure, he could find volunteers to help with manual labor for setting up the wellsite and digging mud pits.  He wanted the villagers to invest in the project and to be involved from the beginning so they can take ownership of their community and move towards self-sufficiency. 

In the coming years, Honduras can take huge leaps of progress with motivated patriotic leaders like these.  The goal of self-sufficiency is a promising indication of the future. 

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