NPH Honduras Strengthens Community Through Agricultural Workshops and Girl Empowerment Groups
The COVID-19 crisis left the Cruz family on the brink of starvation. Thanks to the youth and agricultural workshops at the San José Family Center, it has built young community leaders to support their families, like Ana. June 4, 2021 - Honduras
Ana Cruz, a "Chica Poderosa" who has benefited from "food parcel" project.
Almost a million Hondurans suffer from food insecurity, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO. Despite there being several institutions working to eradicate this problem, there are approximately 900,000 people in Honduras’s 13 regional departments facing third grade malnutrition, leaving them at risk to prolonged drought, multidimensional poverty and limited coverage of social protection programs and projects, and currently, the lack of income caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
However, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos is always looking for opportunities to contribute to the local communities, even more so, when it comes to supporting the families of young leaders, such as Ana Cruz.
Ana Cruz is a 10-year-old girl who lives in Mata de Plátano, a small rural village located in the south of the very center of the country, 55 KM north of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. She is the oldest of three siblings, and lives with her parents, both of whom are farmers. In Mata de Plátano, more than 400 families make a living from agriculture, which they use to feed their families and sell in the markets in Tegucigalpa, enabling them to invest in the maintenance of the fields surrounding the town while also cover their basic needs.
This was the daily routine for Ana’s family. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, they have not been able to sell in the markets, nor maintain a harvest, causing a food crisis for the household, as well as other families in the town. To help combat the problem, the San José Family Center, a NPH community program located in the village, created a “Food Parcel Program”.
“I belong to Chicas Poderosas [Girl Empowerment] at the San José Family Center, a group for adolescent and young girls, where we have workshops about interesting topics such as self-esteem, receiving advice to make positive life decisions and promoting the importance of studying. I have also acquired leadership and technical skills such as learning to make bracelets. I never imagined that through Chicas Poderosas I was going to be able to help my family in a crisis like this by creating a food parcel,” adds Ana.
The Food Parcel Program supports families by training them to utilize their land to grow crops on a small budget, with the aim for families to save 40- to 50- Lempiras – approximately US$1.66 – US$2.07 – a day. The families receive the seeds and learn how to sow them, and also learn how to implement the whole family, ensuring that all members can play a part in harvesting and maintaining the land. The group receive a total of 16 hours of workshops, 12 of which are theory-based, and four practice, all of which are spearheaded by Rocío Perdomo, and a volunteer agricultural engineer.
“I love working in the fields with my family. Through this program I have learned that a plant must always be cared with a little lime and boiling water so worms and slugs do not attack it. I really like to sow because I feel give back to nature, while also taking care of my health. This plot is very useful in our family; even though my parents don’t like to mention it, I know that we do not have much money. These vegetables are our food. We planted beets, onions, mustard, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, beans, sweet chili and some fruits like papayas and avocados,” says Ana with a big smile.
Ana also enjoys cooking, but her favorite dish is a delicious salad, which she has grown to master. When she grows up, she wants to be an agronomist to help the people in her community, and through NPH, she is currently gaining many valuable hours of experience at a young age. “My dad is a community leader, and from him, I have always learned to be proactive and be involved in groups that enable me to grow personally. This is why I wanted to be part of Chicas Poderosas.”
There are currently 33 girls in the Chicas Poderosas group in Mata de Plátano, which meet twice a week and is managed by the psychologist, Lindsay Barahona Paz.
“The psychologist constantly guides us. She reminds me that I need to lose my fears and follow my dreams. I was shy before being part of this group, but now I can talk and build relationships easily. Now I have more friends. Also, when I feel lazy I remember the psychologist’s words: “to be someone in life, I need to study hard”, and this encourages me to keep going,” adds Ana.
Ana is the first to raise her hand when Lindsay asks for help. Her family is proud of her and very thankful with the staff, since they have witnessed growth in Ana’s maturity and character. “Being part of this initiative is not only for personal growth, but also a support that we never imagined. We never thought we’d go through such a hard situation and that Ana would be able to support us like she has,” says Ana’s mother, Sofia.
Ana’s dad lost his arm in an accident, but despite this disability, he and his wife have always worked as hard to ensure their children have the basics and go to school in the town. Furthermore, Ana’s father is a coordinator in Mata de Plátano church parish; he is passionate about helping others, and he tries to pass this on to Ana.
“I lost my left arm when I was young and since then, I have learned that limitations only exist in our minds. And when difficult situations arise, God sends us angels, like the staff at the San José Family Center. They are empowering my daughter to be the best she can be, and they are also providing us with workshops to help us with the basics, such as how to grow our own food. I am so thankful for this project of food parcels, and also, for Chicas Poderosas. They are making Mata de Plátano a better place to live,” adds Elton.
There are 179 families that have been benefited through the Food Parcel Program, several of which have already had their first harvest. In the coming months, the staff from the San José Family Center will be supervising the plots and empowering the benefactors to replicate the techniques and resources with more families from the communities.
“I am so thankful for empowering me to be a strong girl and a leader in my community. I am grateful because they have seen beyond my potential; they have seen my needs and they have given me the tools to solve them. I promise that I will give back to my community in the same way which I have received,’’ concludes Ana.
With your support we can multiply the numbers of children and youths in our programs. Please support us in our mission. Visit your local NPH office to see how you can help.