HONDURAS AT A GLANCE
Honduras is a low middle-income country that faces major challenges, with more than 66 percent of the population living in poverty in 2016, according to official data. In rural areas, approximately one out of 5 Hondurans live in extreme poverty, or on less than US$1.90.
Main features of territorial organization:
Honduras is a unitary country with a single level of sub-national governments composed of 298 municipalities. The country is also divided into 18 departments, which are hierarchically above municipalities. They are headed by departmental governors appointed by the central government, and represent central authorities in each department; they are in charge of monitoring the compliance of municipal policies with national policies.
The average municipal size is 26,718 inhabitants. Municipal authorities are elected democratically. Municipalities are autonomous, enshrined in the Constitution, and are led by a municipal council, led by a mayor. According to the Municipalities Law passed in 1990, municipal competencies are largely focused on local services and small scale infrastructures. Since this law that initiated the decentralization process, numerous reforms have been launched towards strengthening decentralization; though, partially implemented. As there is only one-tier of local governments, subnational governments in Honduras are very heterogeneous and the Secretariat of Interior and Population divides municipalities into four categories: A (High Capacity), B (Intermediate Capacity), C (Poor Capacity), and D (Very Poor Capacity). Only a small set of municipalities (approximately 23) have substantive administrative capacity to assume greater responsibilities.
LA AVISPA, HONDURAS
In February 2012, the congregation of Inglewood Christian Reformed Church began what was originally a 5 year (now in it’s eighth year) partnership with a community in Honduras. The impetus emerged from some conversations that took place in various ministries, and voices around the possibility of an intergenerational third-world service trip. This quickly evolved into a partnership conversation with Christian Reformed World Renew in Canada and Honduras.
Introduction to the Community:
The aldea or village of La Avispa – “the Wasp” - is located in a beautiful, verdant valley surrounded by high rolling hills, lush vegetation and on a road best accessible during the dry months. This community maintains a population of more than 500 people distributed among 86 homes in 5 neighbourhoods. The available public services in the community include: 2 separate gravity-flow water systems which provide safe, potable water; K to grade 6 public schools; a community health centre; and the recently completed electrical system, which is now connected to the country power grid. Organizationally, the community has a community board, a School Society, the water board, local disasters committee CODEL, and a housewives club. This community is considered one of the most productive zones in the county. The principal sources of income are related to agriculture. Farmers primarily cultivate corn, beans and coffee, which is grown in the hills above the village.
Some History of the Community:
According to one of the community elders, the name of the community originates from the first inhabitant to arrive in the area that was stung by a wasp and promptly gave it the name La Avispa (The Wasp). The community began around 1900 with 5 families, the descendants of whom are very much present today.
There have been many significant events in the history of La Avispa, at least two being the result of natural disasters. Hurricane Mitch wiped out one of the neighbourhoods in 1998, causing lost lives and homes; in 2008, the dirt walls of a natural catch basin in the hills did not hold, and the walls and water cascaded down the path of the creek, again taking homes and lives with it.
Initial Identified Needs in the Community:
Of the needs identified in 2012 by the community, Diaconia Nacional, and World Renew, the majority have been addressed.
There has been improvement, expansion and maintenance of both water systems, the latest system completed in 2017. Other volunteer groups, particularly from Biola University (a private Christian University in California), have been primarily involved, and Inglewood has provided financial support to these improvements.
The new Health Centre and staff is funded by the local government.
Construction of water pilas and latrines has been a priority for Inglewood teams since 2012, and has affected a measurable increase in the overall health of the population.
Improving housing has been done through the pouring of concrete over the earth floors in homes, and parging the walls (covering the mud walls).
The new kindergarten classroom promised by the government has not yet been built. However, a new classroom was built for the school last fall, and that was paid for by the regional government.
Of Evaluations and Visits
In the original 2012 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Inglewood CRC, La Avispa, and World Renew, we agreed to review the progress of the relationship in 5 years to determine whether the objectives of each partner were met, and then to decide whether this partnership could continue for another period of time.
The evaluations have now been completed. The answers to general and specific questions were spontaneous, passionate, heartfelt, and emotional, which left the interview team with gratitude for the relationships that have become real and deep. The discussion first and foremost revealed the people’s great love and faith in God, and their dependence on Him, They also expressed the special love and relationship that has developed with Inglewood church and their representative teams. The meeting with the community leaders was no less inspiring, giving gratitude to God for all the blessings they see because of the partnership.
Part 2 was a questionnaire given to all the members of teams from 2012 -2016. While the answers revealed a variety of experiences, gratitude was expressed for the opportunity to serve, to learn, for real and personal relationships that have developed, for reciprocal understanding of each others’ culture, and a realization that under the canopy of God’s great love, we all are called to love Him, and our neighbour as ourselves.
Because some of the people in La Avispa have received more than one project, a total of 69+ families have been beneficiaries of specific projects.
Throughout the partnership, 24 Inglewood members have been part of at least one team to La Avispa; 10 have participated in multiple teams, and more than 55 families/members of Inglewood have donated just over $57,000 CAD to be used for concrete projects and community transformation.