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Communities of Holistic Impact(CoHI) 2019 First trimester

What is being said by Hondurans about CoHI?

“Something that brings a greater sense of hope for my country”
“As Hondurans we are continually convinced and firm that it is through this model (CoHi) and, more than anything, the name of Jesus that it will be possible to actually have a transformational impact in these communities. I am very enthusiastic about this model, though we must admit it is very hard, but I believe with all my heart that it is the most healthy and effective."
"We are thankful. These workshops help us to see better and bring us out of ignorance."

January

While Dec. and Jan. held no formal meetings with the communities, our department continued to reflect on last year and create the best possible agenda and curriculum for 2019 based on each community’s strengths, weaknesses and feedback.

February - Project Genesis

Held as a two-day, overnight event on the Heart to Honduras Santa Elena campus, the 2019 CoHI kickoff was a success. All three communities were in attendance and ready to go. One of the community wide CoHI activities was to elect a “Commission for Holistic Impact.” This commission represents the community at these types of activities and events. Each community attended with their 9-member commission. The topic of this kickoff was “Project Genesis” which is a challenge to each community to plan, coordinate, and execute a project utilizing only local funds and resources. We challenged them to put into practice many of the topics we covered last year to recognize their local potential and resources. Then, according to what they already have addressed, execute a much-needed project in their community. Each community worked together at this workshop to identify and decide on their Project Genesis.

Las Lomitas will pursue greater security for their children by rebuilding the local school fence.
Lomas del Aguila will address local trash issues through a project they call "cleaning up my community."
Caliche will improve access to their community by digging drainage ditches and performing road maintenance.

Each of these Genesis projects have a date to be “inaugurated” and our team, as well as the other two CoHI community commissions, will be present for this exciting day in a few months.

As a way to motivate these local leaders we gave each member of the commission a T-shirt with their community’s “logo” on it. These “logos” were designed by HTH's graphic designer friend, Angela Eldridge, of Made Midwest. However, every idea and “components” of the design came out of a CoHI activity last year, where each community submitted identified aspects of their community that made it unique or gave it value - things for which they are known or of which they are proud. Sheer joy and pride came over their faces when they saw their “humble” village name and THEIR ideas beautifully displayed on a shirt they would be able to wear themselves. It is and will be a great sense of community pride and belonging.

There is a sense of belonging that each community is feeling because of their Tshirts and logos. They have told us how proud they are to be a CoHI community.
March - Fundraising and Finance Management

March was our staff's turn to travel to each community and spend a day there with the commission and anyone else who desired to attend. We only require the 9 member commission to attend the workshops but we are finding many other community members attend simply to gain the information for themselves. All are welcome! The workshop focus was on fundraising and finance management. It taught on ways to be transparent and have healthy accountability with community funds. Although all active community groups manage funds, most small villages do not have a formal system to collect, keep track of or report what they manage. So, this is a big step in development as well as an exercise in building trust. A lot of development is slowed in communities because of lack of trust in leadership handling money. Staff member Marvin Sorto led this workshop to train the commission on basic financial stewardship practices, he included practical worksheets for them to learn to use.

Pastor Fredy kicked things off in his charismatic way teaching on the Biblical principles of stewardship, integrity and accountability.
Otto shared why fundraising is important and how to best go about it. He is known for his songs and active ice breakers to keep everyone alert, involved, and moving.
Staff member Marvin Sorto shared out of his background in administration how to best collect, keep record of and report on local finances. He trained with simple, practical worksheets to get them started as well as shared the new legal procedures for them coming into play via the government.

CoHI allows for deeper relationship with these communities and our staff plays a large role in listening to them, walking with them and doing what we can to support and advocate for their local goals and initiatives. One of the biggest things we have heard from just about EVERY community we have worked with through the years is they have a great desire and need for a good “fuente de trabajo” = good employment. They want to work and earn income for their families. So we are happy whenever this can happen in a fair and just way for all involved. HTH played the role of liaison for this next story...

Coffee in Lomas del Aguila

For those of you who follow along, you know that the local economy of Lomas del Aguila literally runs on coffee. The vast majority of local families derive their primary income from the harvest. As a result, any increase in the price that they receive for their harvest can result in a significant boost to a family's livelihood.

Boston Stoker Coffee Co. has been a great HTH partner for a while now, and has expressed interest over the past couple of years in purchasing coffee from Lomas del Aguila once their quality improved sufficiently. As it turns out, 2019 would be the year for that to finally happen.

The community of Lomas del Aguila has been working hard with CoHI over the past year. They have shown grit, determination, and unusual passion for their community as they have fought through local development challenges.

The farmers association has been working hard with HTH and with a USAID program (Acceso a Mercardos), to improve the quality of their local harvest all throughout 2018. When Boston Stoker rated their coffee this year, they noticed a marked improvement in the product of several farmers.

Following a visit to Lomas del Aguila in early 2019, Boston Stoker was impressed with the advances in Lomas del Aguila, and decided to move forward in an initial purchase of the end of this year's harvest. What does this mean for local farmers?

The eleven farmers that qualified will sell 8400 lbs of coffee at a price increase of 43% or more over what they were receiving before. We, and the people of Lomas del Aguila, are grateful for Boston Stoker's just dealings with local farmers. Such an improvement in price makes a remarkable difference in the lives of many people in Lomas del Aguila.

Part of the CoHI story will now be helping those farmers learn to manage those earnings in a healthy and sustainable way, that both improves harvests and family living conditions.

April

April is a month we have left for the communities to work on fundraising, money management, and their Genesis project. Fredy and Otto will spend a day in each of the three communities this month to check in on their progress, help and encourage in any way they are needed. Something exciting is coming at the end of this month! After experiencing the finance workshop in March community leaders asked HTH to do the finance workshop again and allow them to invite more community members, specifically the treasurers and assistants from all community organizations like community council, water board, PTO, and churches. They want everyone who handles money in their communities to receive this workshop and begin to work in order and with integrity. This additional workshop will be held on the HTH campus at the end of April.

Other achievements so far this year that our staff has had the privilege to empower local leaders to pursue...

  • Caliche obtained approval from the municipality to pay for materials and contracted qualified labor to build their new school.
  • Lomas del Aguila fought for and received a contract for a second teacher for their local school (needed due to the growing number of kids) who is approved for all of 2019 and will apply for permanency in 2020.
  • Las Lomitas has done a lot of work toward unity and fundraising to be able to solicit their first local initiative in a while - a remodel of the church facilities.
  • Lomas del Aguila has been publicly congratulated by the municipal mayor for their work in CoHI and the example they are setting for other communities in the municipality.

A special thanks to our US HTH Partners in Transformation that help make “Communities of Holistic Impact” possible!

  • Upper Arlington Lutheran Church in Columbus, OH
  • Canonsburg United Presbyterian Church in Canonsburg, PA
  • Meadow Park Church of God in Columbus, OH
  • Iglesia de Dios Shalom in Columbus, OH
  • Crossroads Church in Lima, OH
  • Central Community Church in Wichita, KS
  • Bayside Community Church of God in Safety Harbor, FL

Want to catch up on last year's updates? Click below for 2018's final update as well as links to the year's other updates.