In the last two posts, we have looked at where Linares has come from and why we are involved there. Now a little more about where we are going from here and how we’ll all get there.
So where do we go from here? This first trip was a lot like a first date – kind of seeing where we stand and finding out more about each other. Well, I wish I could say with some certainty what happens next but I’ve lived too long to still delude myself into thinking I know what will happen tomorrow. However, there are great things in motion.
I see our role on this trip as having been facilitators. Our friend Vaughn puts it like this:
“Our work here in Honduras is like a man standing on the side of the road when a truck comes by and a bunch of bananas falls off the truck and into the street. I go over and pick up the bananas and set them on the sidewalk. A few minutes later a hungry man walks by and asks, ‘Do you know where I can find some bananas?’ And I say, ‘Will these bananas help?’”
We went to Honduras to learn about the culture – the people and find out what kind of help would be most beneficial. In the village of Linares, this is taking many different forms. Returning the kindergarten to operation is one and a teacher from the village has volunteered to take on the task. There is also a teenage boy who goes to highschool in a nearby town – the first of the village to go to highschool. His grades are good and we are working a couple different avenues to procure a scholarship for him so he can go to university after he graduates. Next February, we will be building pilas for the few houses that do not have them yet and pouring concrete around them to deter the fungus and mosquitoes that proliferate in standing water that tends to gather. We hope to take medicine to treat the fungal skin infections in those who have been infected by the stagnate water as well. All of these efforts are to curtail the continuing decline in the quality of life in Linares but there is another effort at hand – one that has the potential to upgrade the trajectory of the villagers’ lives in an ongoing and sustainable way – the main reason those of us at Safehouse Coffee signed on for this project.
During the last couple of days that we were in Olancho, we were being pursued to take a meeting with a gentleman that represented a German international development organization. Apparently, he wanted to talk about some agricultural resources that might be available for Linares. I’m not sure how he knew of us or that we were there. Understandably, we had some security concerns about the whole thing since this meeting was not on our agenda and we could not find a connection that linked him to us but we rolled the dice and took the meeting.
We met in a large unfinished room of the home where we had been taking our meals while in Gualaco. I was unusually wary as we waited for the man to fix some technical difficulties with his laptop and projector and I felt overwhelmingly protective of the families in Linares. I had my poker face on (also happens to be my haggling face, used when at swap meets), paper and pen at the ready. The gentleman finally got his technical issues ironed out and began his presentation. Joaquin translated. Over the course of the next hour, he showed us the program he represents and I grilled him with as many questions as I could come up with – trying to sift any inconsistencies to the surface that may exist. At the end of our meeting, I had come to two conclusions: 1) This is an incredibly effective and comprehensive agricultural program that has been operating in Honduras for many years and 2) it is being operated by Hondurans that are deeply tied to the communities that they serve.
The program is multifaceted and has components that deal systemically with water safety, food security, ecological sustainability, deforestation, crop management, coffee production training, public health and on and on. It was simply amazing what was being done. We asked him if he would meet us out at the village the next day to meet with Blas, Adalid and any other farmers that wanted to hear what he had to say and he agreed. We were worried whether the villagers would trust him seeing how they don’t know each other. You just don’t do business with people you don’t know down there.
The next day, we are all hanging out on Adalid’s porch watching the children play some crazy games they made up. It should have been peaceful and satisfying but I had a fist in my stomach waiting to see how this much-needed program would be received. After a while, the man pulled up in his truck and he and his two small children got out. “This is good,” I thought, “bringing his children is a great sign of trust and openness.” But as soon as we came into his line of sight, he got a look of consternation on his face and locked his eyes on Adalid. Walking straight up to him, he asked, “Don’t I know you?” Adalid answered that he wasn’t sure. “Yes, yes, you worked for my father in (some town I didn’t catch the name of) when I was a boy. He trusted you. Adalid said, “Is your father (name I didn’t catch)? Yes, he was a good man.” They both smiled and shook hands warmly.
BOOSH!! This was fantastic! What a turn of events that started twenty years ago summiting a pinnacle of need at this place and time! An hour of talking and it was done. Linares in the newest village on the program’s books – a program that comprehensively supplies what this village needs to truly get back to their coffee farms and wellness.
In the months until our February trip, we will be keeping tabs on the progress of the program’s paperwork and internal organization in Linares. They are set up to succeed and we will be supporting them in every way necessary.