By Joseph Russell
Families attended a workshop where Project Honduras members spoke about the importance of clean drinking water and helped install their new filters.
As a student of international development, one topic rarely discussed in readings or the classroom is relationships. How do you build trust in the community where you will be working? How do you navigate the personalities of a community’s leadership? How do you empower without patronizing? These are questions that Project Honduras had to consider at every step – before, during, and after its recent visit to the Balfate community.
By Louise Ashton and Chris McCall
Development work can at times be baffling. Even with deliberate and substantial research, the best laid plans are met with complications and unforeseen obstacles. Members of GPPI’s Project Honduras are learning this lesson first hand as they continue to advance their main long-term initiative of improving household water sanitation practices in the community of Balfate.
By Michael Kurdyla and Chris McCall
In the dry season, roads are treacherous slopes of rocks, garbage and other debris. In the rainy season, they become torrents of water, streaming downhill toward the Gulf of Mexico, a half a mile away. As the local infrastructure cycles between these two extremes, it can be difficult to discern whether any given path is an actual road or just another well-worn hillside. This is Balfate, a community of about 800 people in La Colonia, a shantytown on the Honduran island of Roatán. The community is home to workers and their families who left behind their lives and homes on the Honduran mainland for the chance of a better life. They have jobs as taxi drivers, waiters, housekeepers – essentially anything that needs to be done to support the local tourism industry, which centers on the coral reef right offshore.
Project Honduras 2009/2010 has geared up and is in full swing. There is a brand new team of students led by 2nd year students and returning Project Honduras team members, Marika Butler and Ryan Carrington. While the trip to Roatán is not planned until March, the team has been selected and is already knees deep in project selection, planning, and fundraising efforts. For those who are unfamiliar with the program, Project Honduras is a hands-on development project focused on fostering a sustainable relationship with the community of La Colonia on the island of Roatán in Honduras. This is currently the third year of the program, which began in 2007.
In addition to lessons on environmental protection, members of Project Honduras taught dental hygiene to students in first through sixth grades. The goal of the curriculum was to teach the importance of dental hygiene and to design a feasible system for students to brush their teeth on a daily basis. This project was selected because there is limited access to dental care in Roatan, and there is substantial evidence linking dental health to overall health. Thus, by teaching students to protect their teeth now, their risk for disease later on will be reduced.