The following was written by Ann Edwards, an Agros supporter and member of a Journey With a Village partnership with the Agros village Brisas del Volcán. Ann recently travelled to Brisas del Volcán, and reflects on the incredible changes she’s seen in the village over the last four years.
One of the benefits of traveling to Latin America as part of an Agros Service Team is the long plane ride home. Before life as we know it consumes us, we have time to reflect, ponder and listen. While the geographical distance between us increases, the relationship and love that we share with our village friends stays constant. And the lessons that we have learned continue to reshape our thoughts and actions as we resume our lives.
Such was my experience in mid-March when I traveled to Honduras with a group of 12 to visit the village Las Brisas del Volcán. While I have had the pleasure of visiting on two other occasions, each trip reveals the things that are constant and the things that have changed. The constant for me is always the warmth and friendliness of the people. We are met with smiles, hugs and kisses, primarily from the women and children. This trip, there was a noticeable difference with the men, as they too came forward and greeted us with affection.
Each trip begins with a tour of the property and the changes I have seen over the past 4 years are incredible. The land is very hilly, rocky and difficult to cultivate but the jungle slopes of several years ago have been replaced with acres of plantains and revitalized coffee plants. The men are so very proud of their land and what their hard, back-breaking work has provided for their families and their futures. We spent the rest of the week sharing a variety of activities, sometimes with just the women or children and sometimes “helping” the men in the fields.
While the agricultural changes were truly amazing, the most impressive changes for me were the changes I saw in the people. For the first time, I saw men holding and playing with their children; grandpas helping their young grandsons with the craft projects. The children were able to sit attentively, listening to the lesson and waiting for their turn, so different from the chaos we encountered on the first trip. All of the children are now able to attend school as their parents can afford uniforms. The younger women are stepping up to leadership roles and shared their ideas for micro loan projects from making and selling tamales to raising pigs.
This is now a community of men, women and children who have land to work, enough to eat, and a sense of hope because they have experienced the transformation that previously had only been a far off dream.
I was also impressed with the Agros staff that spent the week with us in the village. We were well hosted by Joel, the country director, who communicated his thorough understanding of the economic needs of the community in order to be self sustaining. Jose Lino is not just an experienced agronomist but he is a delightfully friendly gentleman who has won the respect and trust of the men. And Nohemy has been so effective in teaching and encouraging the relational changes that were so evident. All of the staff seem to have found a good balance between providing instruction and assistance and then letting the community make their own decisions and changes.
And now that I’m home…. I think about my friends in Honduras, knowing a little of how they spend their days. I can pray for them specifically by name and by need. We are all so much more alike than we are different and my greatest frustration is my inability to communicate on a deeper level. So, I keep studying my Spanish and look forward to the day when there will be no language barrier!