By: Connie Houde
Since 1989 New York Help has traveled to the remote Indian village of La Laguna, in the Yoro Mountains of Honduras. Working with the elders, various projects have been developed for the 12 tribal villages. The central project is maintaining the only health clinic for the community. Other projects include a nutrition program, agricultural development, clean water supplies and sanitation (latrines!), scholarships, materials for fuel efficient stoves, framing houses, new roofs and beginning a sewing cooperative. January was my second trip. I had heard of the One Million Lights program and felt it was an excellent fit for these remote villages that have no electricity. As a pilot project we purchased 15 lights to distribute to the most needy families we worked with and to those who have assisted us in our work. I could tell many stories of the delight on people’s faces as the lights were explained and demonstrated. However what was the most rewarding was seeing them in use.
The most moving experience was walking for three hours to a nearby village from the clinic where we were to stay at the one-room school while we assisted three families to frame and roof new homes. In the morning we took a short walk down the hill from the school across the small stream – the local water source — and up the hill on the other side to a very small one-room windowless house with a wood shingle roof in very poor repair. The new house will be 16 feet by 20 feet, three times the size of their current home.
This small house was the home of a family of 7 – mother, father (Lucio), four girls and a boy aged 9, 7, 3, 1 and a baby. Around the house there were small
patches of sugar cane, squash, corn, hot peppers, one or two papaya trees and coffee. Not enough to sustain the family with adequate nutrition.
We gave Lucio a solar light that first day. When we returned the next day to complete the house, I was so delighted to see the light out in the sun being charged. As the angle of the sun changed, Lucio would move it from the shade to the light. For the first time this family can choose to have light in their house and not rely on the expense of candles.
Each of the fifteen lights we had to share with the community were equally appreciated.