The bad and the good… Honduras

April 26, 2007

The news from Honduras can be so depressing some days…

About 1,600 children in Honduras are at high risk of acute malnutrition over the next few months, and many others will also go without in subsistence producer households who have limited staple cereal reserves due to losses of up to 50 percent in the 2006/07 harvest and the 31 percent increase in the consumer price of maize.

Six environmentalists have been killed in the Olancho region since 1998, and more than half of the original 2.5 million hectares of forested land has been cut… Wood exports bring in more than 50 million dollars to Honduras. Most of it goes to the United States, the Caribbean and some European countries, including Germany.

Then you read about someone like this…

Sister Leggol is the founder of the Sociedad Amigos de los Niños (www.saninos.org.hn). The aim of the organization is to give abandoned and abused Honduran children a loving home, an education and prospects for future employment, creating a future not only for them but for the country. In the half-century she’s been at it, Sister Leggol estimates she’s been a “mother and father” to roughly 40,000 such children, many of whom are what she calls “moral orphans” – so badly failed by their own parents as to be effectively without a family.

In her spare time Sister Leggol, a short, portly woman with an infectious smile, founded a chain of 86 free health clinics across the country, giving badly needed employment to recent graduates of medical schools, as well as providing basic health services to rural and low-income Hondurans. She’s launched a training center for young Honduran girls who work as housemaids and a holistic boarding school for boys from impoverished rural communities. Sister Leggol is also one of the founders of the Honduran National Telethon, a foundation that supports a network of rehabilitation centers for the handicapped.

Reading about Sister Leggol bought a smile to my face, it reminded me of a wonderful nun we met during while researching medical teams in Honduras. For the last 40 or so years this nun has lived and worked in a small rural town. She has set up vocational training programs (sewing for women, carpentry for men), a feeding centre for undernourished children, several small libraries in surrounding communities, women’s programs, tree planting programs and more. When we met her two years ago she was overseeing the building of a small hospital, and was frantically searching for staff to run it. Her energy and drive were incredible to observe, and the respect she held in that community was phenomenal. She loved her people, and they loved her.

Remembering this nun, and many other individuals and groups who are doing so much helps me to counter-balance all that bad news that my Honduras news Google feed sends me. I need to believe there is hope for Honduras and Hondurans.

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