The best way to address emigration is through a comprehensive community development effort that unleashes the incredible spirit of the Honduran people. World Vision has been able to tap into their faith and spirit, and it's creating opportunity that is stopping emigration and transforming lives.
See our four-year plan to help bring clean water and a path to a prosperous future to Honduras!
Behind only Haiti, Honduras is the second poorest country in Latin America. The devastating poverty and violence from gangs and drug lords result in many people deciding to flee to the United States for a better life.
Getting to the U.S. is a dangerous journey that can be deadly, and many people don't make it successfully. What if we could address the root cause of emigration so Hondurans could have a better life in their own country? That's exactly what World Vision is doing through our comprehensive development program, and I'm visiting Honduras in order to see the work first-hand.
We hear about the negative impact of the poverty and emigration even before leaving the airport. A man says that he tried to make it to the U.S. and was deported back to Honduras. Much of his family had already successfully entered the U.S., so now he's separated from his family and alone. He asks what we're doing in Honduras, and when we tell him that we're part of an effort to provide clean water, he smiles and says, "Well that's what Jesus would do."
When we travel to the rural villages in Lempira, we hear more about the tragedy of poverty and emigration, but also find some seeds of hope. Jose Benitez, an elder of this village, lost his daughter when she left the community due to lack of opportunity and died in San Pedro Sula. It was the last straw for this community and they fully embraced the hand-up that World Vision was offering.
Mr. Benitez donated land to the community so they could create a community garden using drip irrigation from water collected in nearby water tanks provided by World Vision. Benitez is proud to tell me that they have stopped the migration of youth away from the community by creating jobs and other opportunities.
Their efforts are very deliberate and successful. Each adult in the community brings a young person to work with them in the gardens and they've made the young people part of their savings group. They tell the young people that the gardens are theirs and that they have a future in the community. The flood of migration slowed and then stopped with only 2 of the 800 youth leaving, and even those two returned recently.
Benitez tells me, "Our community is a World Vision community."
In addition to seeing the positive impacts on reducing emigration, I'm excited to visit this part of Honduras because it's one of the places where we're starting to reach everyone with clean water. The work is starting to be completed district by district.
Suntul is a community of 1,900 people that had long been without a reliable source of clean water. World Vision organized the community and explained that they could access clean water springs in the nearby mountains by creating a 9 kilometer pipeline. Similar efforts have taken months of hard work by the best organized communities, but the people of Suntul were off the charts in their motivation.
When World Vision organized the first planning meeting, the people showed up with shovels and pick axes, ready to work immediately. They insisted on starting the digging that very day and accomplished a Herculean task of digging 1 kilometer for the pipeline every single day in order to complete the effort in only 9 days!
Javier Mayorga—World Vision Honduras Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene leader—tells me "We've never seen anything like it." This community didn't stop with the pipeline; they know that they need to protect the watershed to make sure their protected spring water stays safe. So they've purchased 180 acres of land surrounding the spring to ensure the sustainability and safety of their water source.
Our last visit is with one of only a few communities in this district that do not have access to clean water, and it's critical that we reach them as part of our effort to provide everyone with clean water everywhere we work by 2030. This is a community of about 60 families that collects their water from open wells, which are contaminated.
During the dry season, the wells can go dry and they have to walk hours to find any source of water. Margarita Garcia, 66, tells us, "I can no longer do it because when I put the heavy load on my head, my head and neck hurt." She's so excited about the new water source that she's already installed the tap in their home where the water will run.
This community has a renewed spirit and faith that they'll have reliable, safe water before the next dry season. The happiness is evident in Margarita's beautiful granddaughter, Reina Liliana, who will not have to suffer the long walks for water that her mother and grandmother endured.
I've seen that the best way to address emigration is through a comprehensive community development effort that unleashes the incredible spirit of the Honduran people. World Vision has been able to tap into their faith and spirit, and it's creating opportunity that is stopping emigration and transforming lives.
With the support of our donors and partners, we have plans in place to reach hundreds of thousands of more Hondurans during the next four years with clean water and a path to a prosperous future.
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