Project History & Timeline
Over the last six years 175 students, faculty, staff and alumni have traveled on ten trips to serve in three developing communities in Honduras. Each participant has paid approximately $1000 per trip, along with each group raising at least $2000 per trip for materials. Past funding has been provided by various resources, including the Pillsbury family and local churches. For the past 2 years, we have been funded through a Hall Family Foundation cooperative learning grant. With this recent funding, we have developed a long-range vision that involves communities engaging to bring about healthy change.
Our first goal was to identify a community with which we could partner. Several faculty members visited Embarcadero in May 2007. Embarcadero is an agricultural cooperative community of 18 families. Impressed by this community’s desire to set goals for sustainable progress we proposed a partnership to work together to build ecological composting latrines in their village, to protect their water source from contamination.
While working on another project in San Juan Pueblo, we paid a visit to our new friends in Embarcadero. We inspected wells and made initial plans to construct the composting latrines during a future trip.
They indicated a desire to learn how to build these latrines. In January 2009, students and faculty joined together with our friends in Embarcadero to build 2 latrines, with the help of an ecological expert from Guatemala. One of these students, Paula Mahlburg, just finished an internship at the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capitol city of Honduras. Her desire to do this grew out of this January trip to Honduras.
At this time we expanded this partnership with the members of Embarcadero to build latrines for each house. We also asked whether they would be willing for our students to stay in their village and share meals with them in their homes.
They graciously agreed to this request for cultural exchange. During this same trip, a partnership was initiated with the nearby national university, UNAH-CURLA, which has a department of agricultural economics. Their cultural insight and expertise go hand-in-hand with our vision. This inter-institutional collaboration allows us to partner together to find interdisciplinary solutions that work within the context of the Honduran culture and economy. Our colleagues at UNAH-CURLA have enabled the creation of connections with municipal authorities and key resources. We are able to contribute funding for internships for senior students of the Honduran university, allowing the empowerment of Hondurans to develop sustainable change that can be reproduced in other villages. In January and March of 2010 two groups of students, faculty and alumni slept in the schoolhouse and shared meals with our “adopted” families in the village. During the January trip, foundations for 18 latrines were completed.
During the Spring Break trip in March, work continued on the latrines, and we did some medical assessment along with some basic English lessons.
A small team of from Jewell, Dr. Kelli Schutte, Dr. Lori Wetmore, and Jeff Buscher met Dr. Rafael Carias from UNAH-CURLA University in La Ceiba and presented at the “Project Honduras Conference” in Copan, Honduras. We also met for an afternoon with our partners in Embarcadero to make plans for our upcoming group visit in January of 2011.
The people of Embarcadero daily live out the call to love kindness, do justice, and walk humbly with God and with one another. Each morning and evening when I would go to eat at my host family’s house I was greeted with kindness. Even though I could not speak Spanish well and they did not know English, we rejoiced in one another’s gestures of kindness whether it be a smile or through our broken conversations. When I gave my family the picture frame at the end of the week, my hermanita jumped into my arms and gave me a huge kiss. The whole family was so pleased to have such a small gift and showed me love through hugs and kisses. The people of Embarcadero do justice through building and sustaining their community.
Our society subscribes to constant white noise, real and metaphorical. Background “noises,” distractions, are abundant. TVs, radios, music, and video games—all commonly play background roles, filling in any silences in conversations, distracting us from fully interacting with the people around us. Even when there isn’t white noise in the typical sense, there are metaphorical white noises, distractions that keep us from living in the present—worries, multi-tasking, and thinking only of the future. The Honduran culture is very relationship oriented, and I feel that they have their priorities right. I feel that my trip to Honduras was successful because of the relationships I built while there. Even though we were only there for two weeks, I feel that I have made lasting friendships, especially with the students from Curla and with “mi hermana Embarcadero,” Emni. From them I learned the importance of appreciating today, and of enjoying life rather than just worrying about future, because that doesn’t really make you happy. Overall, this experience was very valuable to me for both what I learned and the relationships I cultivated.
Everything throughout the trip just showed how amazing God is. The group got a long perfectly, we became a great family – and I know the experience wouldn’t have been the same with a different group dynamic. Then learning all about David and Dialis’s story along with Lusito’s was just so humbling and showed how God works through love. Everything about the trip was an amazing experience, I am still working on putting everything together, but I know that I have changed as a person and that my focus has changed. The trip really opened up my heart and I am so thankful I got the opportunity to go.
Without this trip I would have been stuck in the same state of mind with no interaction with other people. Getting involved is a big step into changing one’s own point of view. Reading it in books only informs you, but actually experiencing it is what ignites the determination to help others. For the most part, when we are emotionally driven by something or someone we are more likely to do something, than if we were just told to do so by an instructor or book because it is the right thing to do. This trip changed the way I would answer this school’s core curriculum of “What is real?” “What can we know?” And “How should we behave?” I think everyone that was with me on this trip changed their opinion as well.
At first, I was really nervous about being without make-up for ten days. No one ever sees me sans-cosmetics, and I was scared about how others would react. Even if they didn’t show it, I was worried deep down they were thinking how ugly I looked and how scary I looked without make-up on; because those were the thoughts that were running through my mind. However, I soon learned that physicality was a non-issue on this trip. Let’s face it, none of us looked our best on that trip. But for some reason, being able to interact and get extremely close with eight people without wearing an inch of make-up the entire time really did something for me. I was still able to facilitate a lasting friendship with these people regardless of how I looked. And that was when I realized how naïve I’d been in thinking that these people wouldn’t want to get to know me because I didn’t have make-up on. They still laughed at my jokes, still comforted me when I cried, still loved me, still hugged me, and still wanted to spend time with me – and that made me more confident than any amount of concealer. I was able to look in the mirror at my bare face and really feel I was beautiful. My confident came from my personality, humor, and heart rather than some eyeshadow and blush. Now, I really don’t care much about my appearance. It’s still difficult to go without make-up because here in America we’re so centered around physical appearances, but I can at least go without make-up around my close friends, because I’m confident in myself enough to not care about what I look like – and no one else should either.
This trip was the best idea I have had, one of the best. I have always wanted to do a mission trip, but I’ve never found the right one. This was perfect. This trip definitely changed my view on life and how I want to live my own life after college. It let me figure myself out and it taught me so much about myself. It helped me figure out what I might possibly want to do for part of my life and I am most thankful that I was able to get past my wall of being shy. That made me extremely happy and I would recommend this trip to anyone who has the patience and willingness to do this and to put themselves out of their comfort zone for awhile.
Most Americans take advantage of everything and do not realize that they are, but I pray that Americans will one day be able to see that we do not need everything we have. Because not only does it make Americans look bad, but also it gives us this ugly reputation and stereotypes every American. I wish everyone experience what we experience in Honduras, and to start it off I believe we need to get more people in Jewell involved. Also I believe that we need to bring the students from Honduras to Jewell so they can see America and experience our culture. Also by bring Honduran students here, I think we would become more globalized and students would be able to learn about people from a third world country and how they may not have a lot but still love people like its their last day on earth. This trip definitely impacted my life and I hope I can go back to Honduras.