CELL Program sends an update from Honduras
We spent this past week in the Honduran mountain community of Brisas del Mar working with Sustainable Harvest International. This organization teaches families how to live more sustainable and nutritious lives, with the hope that when they graduate from the program they will pass on their new knowledge to other community members. In this community, SHI has helped families through the implementation of new things like chicken coops, family gardens and fishponds. Our facilitator, Aaron, introduced us to the community and coordinated our service projects throughout the week.
Navigating the steep and muddy roads up the mountain in the back of pickup trucks was scary but fun, thanks to our SHI field leaders and drivers, Solomon and Juan Carlos. For the next five days we lived in the clouds. Brisas del Mar is so high in elevation that the clouds often make it very misty, but when they clear you are surrounded by green mountains for miles in every direction. The roads are made of bright red clay, but just off the path the atmosphere quickly turns into a steamy jungle, full of countless tropical plants, animals, and hidden waterfalls.
We spent a lot of time getting to know the families of our host fathers, Don Chico and Don Esbin. All of the women in Don Chico’s family spent hours preparing great meals for us throughout the week. Our group also enjoyed the company of the children at our houses, and the family dogs provided much entertainment (except for Peluche, who is an excellent guard dog jaja). The family members delighted in watching us play games, and one night they even gathered in the doorway of the kitchen to watch some of us put on a shadow puppet show while others shared dishwashing duty by candlelight.
This is a coffee farming community and for our host families, coffee harvesting is the main source of income. For a product that we consume so much in the U.S., we knew surprisingly little about how it is grown and processed. Our families taught us how to plant, harvest and de-pulp the coffee. We also tried our hand at planting plantains and clearing a hillside in preparation for corn planting. We concluded our trip by helping a couple of families build fuel-efficient stoves. We were exhausted at the end of each day, and we learned that it takes a lot of hard work for the farmers here to produce their crops from start to finish.
Last night we had a closing ceremony with our host families and the SHI coordinators, which included a bonfire, a feast complete with cake, and a surprise visit from a local guitar duo that led us in an impressive variety of both Spanish and English songs. Thomas, Zach and Tommy kicked off the sing-a-long session with an enthusiastic rendition of Hotel California, and soon everyone was joining in. The ceremony ended with speeches from everyone about what we would remember from this week, and finally…we performed a song and dance routine to the Macarena, to everyone’s amusement.
We’ve certainly had our share of challenges this week. We’ve hauled tools and plants down steep inclines, pushed trucks stuck in mud up mountainsides, and spotted tarantulas while digging holes. We will remember being chased by angry dogs, stung by unidentified insects and pricked by thorny pineapple plants. But what will stand out most in our memories are the impressions left by the people we have met in Brisas del Mar. They live simply, work hard, and place much value on their families and farming sustainably. They have been an inspiration to us and taught us that hard work and passion are key elements in meeting the challenges of sustainable living.
~ Written by Lia and Juliet, cross-posted from the CELL Central America Program 2012 Blog.
Welcome to SHI's Harvest Blog!
We decided to launch the Harvest Blog in order to give a voice to the many great staff and volunteers working with SHI. Look forward to timely posts from our field program, Smaller World volunteers, business and community partners and others!
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