DIRT POOR; RICH IN SPIRIT
I have been led to believe that practically all the land in Honduras is owned by a very few families. And of course this is the most productive or strategic land. By contrast most of the poor folks have to settle for sharecropper status on small plots that can hardly support a family let alone provide the material trappings we take for granted. However, most make do and manage to survive while maintaining a positive outlook.
A case in point is the homestead of Bartolo Gonzales whose family of eleven occupies a small dwelling, about 1,000 square feet, on top of a little ridge in La Montanita. Not all the family resides there right now but I think you get the idea. His land slopes away on both sides of the ridge and is about two acres. At first glance the property appears to be overgrown with scrub palms and jungle plants. But we found out differently.
Closer observation and after a few inquiries we found that most of the plants we were looking at were indeed food sources. He had mangoes, bananas, coffee, sweet potatoes, about fifty pineapple plants, a spiny fruit I don’t recall the name of, papaya, and probably some other stuff we were unaware of. Of course there were the ever present chickens and dogs (I don’t think they eat the dogs, they’re too skinny)
Many of us who have spacious lawns, a half acre of ornamental plants, and shop at Wal-mart probably don’t appreciate (or care?) about the way most of the world’s population has to live: shame on those who do. I continue to be impressed by the spirit and apparent happiness of the Honduran people. Do they hope for a better life? Of course they do, but they are not beggars; they are financially poor. They are very friendly and appreciative of the small things we can do for them.
COMPLETED OUR CONSTRUCTION TASKS AT LA MONTANITA
On Tuesday and Wednesday, we completed our construction tasks at La Montanita. We finished assembling the new desks and benches and completed Justa stoves #2 and #3. Four people from Texoxingales (Teo), a mountain-top village about 1.5 hours away from La Montanita, watched Santos ( the man who had been taught stove building on stoves #1 and #2) build stove #3. Santos was an excellent teacher and the Teo people were very good students. They watched intently, asked lots of questions, and took lots of notes. We had given them a copy of the stove building instructions in Spanish.
We believe that La Montanita can now complete construction of their stoves as funding is made available. We expext Santos to go to Teo to assist in construction of their first stove.
We are extremely pleased at how fast the locals are learning to build the Justa stoves. They really made George look good!