Village Partners Project is focused on creating sustainable, healthy change in both in the Honduran community and in the global community through cross-cultural experience, community participation and empowerment through partnership of Jewell, UNAH-CURLA and villages in the Atlántida region. The specific tasks of building ecological latrines, enhancing poultry production through micro enterprising initiatives, improving home ventilation, improving agricultural distribution and facilitating discussions on sustainability and multiplication of this model will directly improve the economic state of families now. These tasks will also position families for healthier economic states in coming generations.
The Village Partners Project in Honduras (VPP) will engage the impoverished communities of the region of Atlántida for the purpose of healthy, sustainable change through partnering, planning and practicing. Sustainable change occurs through community education, dialogue and leadership development. VPP will use the resources provided through William Jewell College to create additional resources in the communities of Atlántida, Honduras.
Since 2005 more than 200 William Jewell College students, faculty and alumni have traveled to do community development work in north central Honduras. Students pay for travel, food, and lodging, and each group raises funds for the specific project they will work on while they are in Honduras. Past projects have included, building homes, roofing a church, and health education. Recent projects in Embarcadero have included building “Sanitario Secos” and high efficiency (Lorena) stoves that vent outside the home, water quality assessment and micro-enterprise planning. The goal of our Village Partners Project (VPP) is to partner with communities and create healthy sustainable change through education, dialogue and leadership development. Plans for improving each community come from within the village, and as a liberal arts college we network our various disciplines to find ways to empower the village reach its goals. We endeavor to accomplish these goals by creating a reciprocal relationship that will benefit and strengthen both the Honduran and William Jewell community.
In 2007, we visited Embarcadero in search of a community for our first effort as “Village Partners”. As the patranato of this remote village of 100 people shared their goals of cleaner water, improved health and education, and increased community income with us, we knew we wanted to partner with this community. Our partnership with a village moves through three very intentional phases.
Phase 1: Relationship Building
During this phase students and community members get to know one another and we begin the process of listening to the community’s goals and determining the assets and resources available to achieve those goals. In Embarcadero we learned that the latrines were polluting the local water supply, and we introduced an alternative that was both healthier and sustainable.
Phase 2: Collaboration
During the collaboration phase we emphasize the importance of using local solutions to meet challenges faced by each village. Students and local residents consider which available resources can be used to help them move closer to their goals. A key principle for the Village Partners Project is that Hondurans create and implement Honduran solutions. In Embarcadero a partnership with the agriculture and eco-tourism students at UNAH-CURLA has proven to be a very helpful partnership. William Jewell helped to fund internships for UNAH-CURLA students that provided leadership and community development training for village leaders. This collaboration has resulted in training the women of the village to build Lorena stoves for their homes and micro-enterprise planning for the village. We are currently beginning collection of data for documentation of the health benefits observed as these changes are implemented, in partnership with the UNAH-CURLA nursing school. Municipal authorities in Esparta have also provided funding for the school sanitario seco and a bridge that leads to the village.
Phase 3: Multiplication
The multiplication phase focuses on the disseminating of this model to other communities in the surrounding area. As improvements are made in a village and men and women are trained to share the value of these improvements, they are empowered to share this knowledge with residents in neighboring communities. On a larger scale programs could be funded so that larger groups of community leaders can share this information. In Embarcadero, the nearby town of Esparta has already expressed interest in the technology related to both the Sanitario Secos and the Lorena stoves.
While there are several benefits to the local community involved in a Village Partners Project, we also believe there are significant benefits for William Jewell College and for our students. Learning to be global citizens and applying values learned from other cultures enriches our campus experience. In this way the Village Partners Project improves each community involved in the effort. Reciprocity is essential for the success of the program.
Listed below are specific objectives for the Honduras Village Partners Project.
• Build 20 Sanitario Secos (One large unit at school)
• Build new Lorena stoves in each home
• Establish a micro-enterprise opportunity in Embarcadero
• Fund internships for UNAH-CURLA students to work in Embarcadero
• Improve the water supply
• Improve poultry production
• Document improvements observed as changes are implemented
• William Jewell community members live and work in Embarcadero 2 weeks a year, two times a year
• William Jewell students learn global servant leadership through preparation, implementation, reflection and mentoring
• Multiply improvements in other Honduran communities
• Multiply the VPP Model in other colleges and universities in the USA
Finally in reference to our partnership with students and faculty at UNAH-CURLA, the William Jewell and UNAH-CURLA objectives closely model the United Nations’ millennium development goals. The Secretary-General lists eight areas of focus necessary for global improvement: ending poverty and hunger, universal access to education, gender equality, child health, maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability and global partnerships. The global partnership formed by William Jewell and UNAH-CURLA will have an impact on each of these core goals and a significant impact on the areas of poverty, child and maternal health, gender equality, and environmental sustainability. The global priorities as endorsed by the United Nations provide affirmation of the objectives, processes and methods that VPP employs.VPP will accomplish this through a three-phase approach.