Transformation 2017: Part 3/3 - Las Lomitas

Afflicted for three decades by truly deplorable education, Las Lomitas is finally breaking through. For the past 10 years, the community had settled into the debilitating state of mind that their children were receiving the best that they could receive. Arriving to their graduation ceremony in sixth grade, the majority could not perform simple addition or subtraction without the help or tables - without even considering multiplication. A great many of the youth graduated without being able to read. The one teacher trying to cover 50+ children in all six grades was clearly not cutting it.

Following multiple trips to local supervisors, a second, excellent, young teacher was added to the school in Las Lomitas. In short order, the existing teacher was run from town - although not in the most upright fashion. The community is now actively seeking a qualified second teacher to complement their children's education. Many are now discussing how to extend the program into high school.

Right next to the school lies dormant the bumpy, pock-marked face of this rural Honduran town - the soccer field. With a great deal of local effort, collaboration, and financial contribution, Las Lomitas worked with the municipal government and HTH donors to build a large retaining wall and level out the field. What was once certainly the steepest soccer field that anyone had ever played on (15 feet out of level to be precise), is now set to become one of the premier fields in the area.

Correspondingly, pride in our tiny town has risen significantly over the past year as these events have unfolded. Kids now feel like they might be sharp enough to continue studying, or actually enjoy it. Parents now feel like it might be worth the trouble - maybe their child won't just grow up to simply grab a machete or give birth to their first child at 15? The very face of the community has undergone a tremendous makeover, and all of those that love the sport feel more beautiful by association. This is not to be undervalued in a country where a significant proportion of young men are dispatched prematurely from this world due to their involvement in violent crime in their free time. Here, soccer just might save their lives.

Smack in the middle of all of these remarkable changes happening in town, we find one rather extraordinary man - Eduar Funez, our local pastor. Having moved with his family from a larger, more prosperous town at tremendous financial and emotional expense, Eduar has become a catalyst for change in Las Lomitas.

He has cried and begged for action from pulpit that the church awaken and cast off the chains of fear and conformity. He has stood with dignity in community council meetings and implored the community to not stop or slow down until justice has been done. Coaching 11 young men, he has taught them values through sport on the same soccer field that he has fought to see reconstructed.

Perhaps most importantly, he has stood beside other community leaders and encouraged them to keep on. Some of these new leaders certainly would have soon given up, others, old and burnt out would have long since fizzled out. Standing firm in the power and hope of Christ, he has grabbed exhausted arms and hoisted them up - empowering, not overwhelming those who fight for change here in our town. For these reasons, and so many more, we have come to love and respect this remarkable man.

As we rejoice with these overcomers, we are simultaneously burdened by the financial difficulties that Heart to Honduras is currently experiencing. HTH exists to empower and encourage the remarkable people fighting an uphill battle against the status quo here in the Yojoa region of Honduras. As these leaders take important steps - shining light into very dark holes - we hope to continue alongside them.

We very seldom do this - maybe even never here on the blog - but we do want to ask those of you that are passionate about what you read here to consider giving to Heart to Honduras. It is a truly-remarkable organization that has grown exponentially in impact, sustainability, and fiscal stewardship since we joined six years ago. It has become something that we are truly proud to be a part of, and will fight to see continue. Those of you that want to give, you can do so easily online at hth.org/donate-now

Join us on this journey.


Transformation: Part 2/3 - Caliche

At the incredible cost of more than 400 "total days" of labor, three communities have come together to improve access to their communities. As we have frequently-referenced, the overland access is... lacking. In particular, a half-mile grade at the head of the road is better suited to horses than to vehicles. This severe access limits development of the region: medical care, new markets, educational opportunities, jobs, and SO much more. People have certainly died due to the difficulty of reaching these communities.

Together the communities of Caliche, Aguas de la Reyna, and Posas del Agua banded together to form a commission dedicated to fixing the three worst passages - beginning with the opening grade. Now nearing completion, 50 local men have devoted day upon day of their labor, working with materials provided in part by Upper Arlington Lutheran Church(a Heart to Honduras "Partner in Transformation"), COHERSA (a local hydroelectric company), and the municipal government of Santa Cruz de Yojoa, Honduras. I cannot emphasize enough how difficult this work is. You know a community really wants something when they dedicate this much time and effort to it.

Once these communities overcame the primary obstacle of unifying themselves, the work has moved quickly forward. Heart to Honduras has been grateful to work alongside these remarkable people, full of hope, in their struggle for progress. HtH facilitates relationship reconciliation, support, encouragement and collaboration initiation with each involved party to make these local initiatives possible. These initiatives are not the most "popular" for North Americans because you don't get to come and DO and it's not as flashy or social media friendly to support locals building a road, but in the end we personally, the local communities, and HtH believe it accomplishes SO much more long term, holistic development for the community.