Melanie Torres via Crowdrise
April 01, 2011
BENEFITING: Students Helping Honduras
The firemen of El Progreso work to protect a population of over 130,000 people from fires and other natural disasters. With limited municipal funding and support, their resources are spread thin and the firemen work with out of date equipment and in a fire station in need of major repairs. Since the 7.3 earthquake that struck off the coast of Honduras in May 2009, the roof of the central headquarters for the firemen has been severely damaged, with water leaking all over the beds of their sleeping quarters when it rains (which is very often). The beds are old and ragged, and now filled with mildew from the leaking roof.
Sebastian Vasquez Lopez is a fireman with the Progreso fire department from Las Brisas, a village close to where we have been working. On his days off he walks one village over to Villa Soleada to help with whatever projects are going on (building schools, houses, an orphanage, etc). He is a friendly, kind-hearted man with a great sense of humor and the ability to make people laugh despite their dire situations. Last time we were down in Villa Soleada he organized the evacuation of the village nearby, Monte de Olivo. These people had recently been forced out of their homes by the government and given marginal land sandwiched in between a rice paddy and a palm oil plantation, making it extremely vulnerable to flooding. Sebastian passed through Villa Soleada on his day off and asked us if we would like to check on the people of Monte de Olivo with him; he was worried about the condition of their homes because it had been pouring for over 24 hours with no sign of stopping. He led us through the village, going from home to home and telling every family his plan to open one of the schools two villages over in order to give all the women and children a place to sleep, out of the rain. As we walked through the village with water half way up our calves, Sebastian kept the mood light and optimistic, singing and trying to cheer everyone up. With Sebastian, two women from Villa Soleada and a few other volunteers, we spent the next two days cooking and distributing donated clothes to the women and children of Monte de Olivo.
Although this was by no means a permanent solution, Sebastian is just one of many good people living in Honduras who want to help their neighbors in any way they can. As the second poorest country in the hemisphere, Honduras struggles with high poverty rates, a corrupt government and gang violence. But the best way to fight poverty and development issues is to involve local people who bring about local solutions.
The firemen of El Progreso are a vital asset to an area struggling with extreme poverty and violence. With our help, we can give these men a new roof to help them do their job effectively and support them in their fight to help the people of El Progreso and Honduras.