Buenos Dias Familia y Amigos,
It is a glorious morning here on our mountain campus. Very bright and fresh. A wonderful way to begin our Friday.
As our third teaching week draws to a close, the second-year students are working with me on individual business plans and the first-year students are getting ready to take their usual Friday English test (written and oral). And everybody is looking forward to the weekend and hopefully a bonfire tomorrow night!
We lost power for a day and a half this week. Late afternoon storms most days and one took down a power line about 45 minutes away. But no matter, evening activities including Bible Study, Reading Groups, etc. went on – a bit dimly with flashlights and small lanterns. But the students unfortunately told me they just could not complete their homework the other night. Amazing!
My 15 students are working hard on their business plans. We have 2 markets or bodegas, 2 chicken farms, 1 pig farm, a clothing store, 2 school supply / paper stores, a bakery, a laundry, 2 internet services/ cafes and 2 auto/ motorcycle parts businesses. (This picture includes one of my 4-legged guest lecturers earlier this week).
The type of businesses generally reflect the sorts of needs that these girls and their families have in their mostly rural communities. Many of them are from communities with less than a couple hundred families. And most employment in their families is as farm or field workers. So there is very little disposable income for wants, just basic needs.
We grow many of our vegetables here on campus, red beans, green beans, corn, carrots, onions, and cilantro – to name some. Thought you might enjoy a picture of our young pineapple plantation.
There are two larger farms very nearby. Right now, both farms are harvesting tomatoes. Workers from nearby communities come most mornings and pick the tomatoes (including women and children). Typically, they are paid 4 Lempira for a 5-pound bucket of tomatoes that they pick. I am told a good worker can pick 60-80 buckets in a full day. So maybe they earn 250 or so Lempira – $10, while there is harvest work. To put that in perspective, eggs cost about 3-4 L each (one bucket). Gasoline is about the equivalent of $3 a gallon. School supplies that are required for a student to attend public school are about 7-800L each year. Chicken meat costs 25 L a pound. A bag of chicken feed to feed 15 chickens for a month or so costs 400 L. So, this is a bit what real poverty looks like here and in many rural communities across Honduras. For hard work, people can make some money, but life just seems to always cost more than they can make. That is the sort of hard reality that our students come from. But honestly, the hope and faith they all have in God and in a better future for themselves and their communities is inspiring. It’s a genuine feeling that they express in many ways and it surely motivates me every day.
But back to the tomatoes. Most of the farmers’ tomatoes go to market as they are picked. But of course there are many picked that are not able to be sold. They are left in piles along the road. So two days ago a few of the students, one of our workers and Chris and I headed to a pile. Our objective was to glean what we could for the kitchen and gather a lot for the pigs and chickens.
Many were spoiled and not usable. But we sorted some for the animals and a bucket or two for the kitchen.
When we put the tomato piles in the chicken pens – the chickens ran away. But a couple days later they were pecking away at the bugs that had come for the tomatoes. The pigs ate all their tomatoes.
And best of all, Mrs. Chris made real spaghetti sauce (Italian/ with a touch of Honduran) that we all enjoyed yesterday at lunch. For most of the students it was their first taste of Italian (other than pizza)!
Well off to my morning class soon. So we will say goodbye for now.
Thanks for your continued support.
Blessings from Honduras,