Ángel wakes up every day at 4 AM and walks for two hours up the steep mountainside to his parcel of land, where he plants frijoles and coffee beans and squash among other crops. Growing at a higher elevation allows him to capture a greater volume of rainfall and unobstructed sunlight.
All day he works under the beating sun, walking his land, harvesting, fertilizing, ensuring a bountiful harvest for him and his wife, Bienvenida, and their five children. After almost ten hours of work he descends back to his home where dinner and his family await. He goes to bed around 8 PM and then gets up the next morning to do it all over again.
Ángel and Bienvenida are my hosts in the small community of Tule. Despite his rigorous schedule, Ángel always greets me with a smile and a tip of his cowboy hat at the end of a long day. And he is more than willing to muster up the energy to talk with me about his work during and after dinner.
My two hosts are considered community leaders in Tule, with each commanding a certain level of respect and responsibility of the community’s affairs.
One morning I join Bienvenida and about two dozen other women as they gather for a monthly meeting regarding the children of the community with one or no parents. This is one of the major challenges in poor farming communities, as I detailed in my last post. Single parents, as well as the families who take in children with no parents, each face the added burden of keeping a larger family fed, clothed, and sheltered.
Bienvenida leads the committee meeting alongside two other women. After a lengthy discussion, the group comes to an accord. The women in attendance all pledge to give 20 lempiras (less than $1, but that goes a long way here) to the cause, every month. Altogether this will make a huge difference in the lives of these children.
It is a cool scene, watching the women come up one by one, signing their name as the other women and children look on.
That afternoon Bienvenida is preparing lunch as I write in my notebook about the events of the morning.
Danilo sits in the doorway of their small house just feet away, practicing his reading. Ángel had told me the night before that his young son is in first grade, but is already reading at a fourth grade level. He makes a few mistakes as he flips through the pages of his workbook, filled with big words and bright pictures, but always takes the time to go back and sound out the words he mispronounced.
Eventually I call him over so we can practice together while his younger brother, Joel, looks on.
When Danilo grows tired of schoolwork, him and his older sister Angela ask me to play with them in the yard. How could I refuse? We play soccer, marbles, and keep away (or “Chancho en el medio”, “Pig in the middle,” as they call it) for over an hour. By the time lunch is served I am definitely breaking a sweat.
Ángel and Bienvenida’s children are full of life and laughter. I imagine Bienvenida thought of them when she took on the responsibility of heading the committee for children without parents. Every kid deserves a set of hardworking and dedicated parents like my hosts, especially those without the blessings of growing up in the first world.
Much like in La Majada, I get a chance to spend time with dozens of other families in the community of Tule, which according to Bienvenida is comprised of 83 total families. Again people enthusiastically welcome me into their homes, often offering coffee or a bite to eat while conversing with me about their lives.
A common theme I notice is the willingness of children to pitch in. As I walk through the community, I see that some are returning from working in the fields all day. Others are helping with laundry, cleaning, assembling the animals, or preparing food.
“Children are our future”
Ángel explains this is the only motivation he needs for working so hard, a sentiment shared by his wife.
Like the families in La Majada, Ángel and Bienvenida have benefited from the presence of Vecinos Honduras. In addition to the education and promotion of organic fertilizers, as detailed in my last post, Vecinos Honduras has organized a series of farmer exchange meetings held once a month. The purpose of these gatherings is to share new ideas, information, and to encourage sustainable growth practices. Ángel has been attending these such meetings and said he has learned helpful tips.
This year has generally seen a strong yield for the community of Tule, in part due to the support of Vecinos Honduras. Back at Ángel’s house, Angela, Danilo, and Joel are eager to show off the rather impressive squash that their father has brought home.
Ángel is certainly grateful for the important, ongoing support of Vecinos Honduras in Tule. Their work here goes a long way in helping the overall health of the community and preserving it for generations to come.
“Vecinos Honduras has lifted the spirits of our community. Thanks to God, and thank you to Vecinos Honduras”
I am also thankful to Vecinos Honduras for introducing me to such a wonderful family and allowing me to tell their story. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Ángel, Bienvenida, and their awesome kids.