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Local Resources and Histories CoHI Update #5 - 2018

Our Communities of Holistic Impact (CoHI) just wrapped their first year! If you haven't been following along, you can read this year's story in the following updates. If you are all caught up, just scroll past the buttons!

This fall was a busy time for staff and community members. Since our last update, Caliche, Lomas del Aguila, Las Lomitas, and HTH staff have participated in three additional trainings and two additional community building activities. Here's what they've been up to.

Community Project Management

September Workshop

Community Project Management

September Workshop

CoHI communities have lots of experience working and managing community projects, but they have often expressed difficulty in organizing the community and gathering all of the needed resources. This training focused on a very simple process of working to organize community resources on the front end of the process, execute the project in order, and do a final evaluation. Dimas in Lomas del Aguila expressed relief over having some sort of solid process to follow – as community planning sessions occasionally end in division over what to do next. The process is not a prescription of exact procedures, but a recommendation of how to achieve steady progress throughout the life of a project.

The State of Our Communities

October Workshop

For years, we have been told competing numbers about who actually lives in a community. Are there 40 houses or 80? How many people have access to water? How many people have emigrated from the town? How many people have hypertension?

In this training session, we did not attempt to answer any of these questions – we worked together to answer an even bigger one…

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

Communities worked with Otto and Fredy to understand why it was so important to understand demographic information, community maps, local history, and local resources. The training focused on how each of these sources of information are useful diagnostic tools that can contribute to holistic community growth. We explained that in the same way that a doctor might use an MRI, CT Scan, or an X-ray to diagnose what is going on inside of us, communities can use these tools to understand part of what is happening inside of their village.

This training was followed up with one of CoHI's most ambitious practical activities of the year...

Community Inventory

October Community Building Activity

This activity literally put legs on “State of Our Communities” workshop. HTH staff worked with community leaders to execute a community-wide comprehensive survey with two parts:

  1. Demographic Information –Who lives in our community? What services do they have access to? What are the most common issues that they experience? What is the general economic information of our area?
  2. Resource Inventory – We think we are poor – but what kind of spiritual, natural, material, financial, social, and intellectual capital do we have access to

This exercise was done in true CoHI fashion – not to the people, but by the people. Local teams worked together to gather this information and were amazed to see the results. We have just recently received the information ourselves, but pulled out a few interesting points that point to just how amazingly resource-rich and diverse these “poor” communities truly are. Each community not only has resources, but they have unique resources that distinguish them from each other.

Caliche

  • The 44 households of Caliche collectively own 70 horses, 128 hogs, and more than 400 chickens.
  • Most houses are constructed of adobe (mud brick).
  • An average worker earns $5/day.
  • Most home work in sustenance agriculture, particularly rice and beans, farming an average of three acres per household.

Las Lomitas

  • Seven of the 69 households own a vehicle.
  • The most common type of home construction is concrete block.
  • Five residents have formal work outside of the community.
  • The price of land/acre is seven times as expensive as land in Caliche.
  • More than half of the town's households purify their drinking water in some way.

Lomas del Aguila

  • The vast majority of the 97 households work in coffee production. Each family farms an average of 2.8 acres.
  • Most homes are constructed of wood.
  • 10 people in town make their living as a mason.
  • Most people do not purify their drinking water.
  • 59 residents deal with hypertension.

Community History

November Community Building Activity

Where did our town come from? Why have we done what we have done up until this point? What is driving us? What has gone well for us? What has gone poorly?

Although these questions may be asked internally by many community members, there has rarely been a forum for public discussion and analysis of local successes and failures. HTH CoHI Staff worked with local communities to:

  1. Understand why a shared history is important.
  2. How to collect information that defines local history.
  3. What can we learn from shared history that can help us as we move forward?

Community members were encouraged to execute this in a unique way: local young people (with less understanding of community history) were encouraged to interview some of the communities older residents (who often relish the opportunity to reflect on town history and long to contribute to the community). These findings were then reported to the Community Development Commission for analysis and refinement. The community history will then be shared in a town-wide meeting and will be read each year in the local school and added to as the community continues to develop. Successes and failures will be added each year. This community history will provide a unique place for the community to formalize and reflect on each year’s successes.

Community Mission and Vision

November Workshop

The year wrapped up in Santa Elena with the three communities coming back together to reflect on their year. Fredy and Otto led a workshop on the mission and vision – its importance and how communities can work to formalize their own. At the end of the session, a young leader from Lomas del Aguila, Lorenzo, shared.

“Thank you for teaching us to see our future. One often goes day to day with knowing what is going to happen in our lives. Now I will sit down to see who I really am and where I am really going with my life – to visualize what I want to do.”

As we looked together with our communities towards next year, they were excited to see the beginning results of some of their labors. During the team-building camp, local leaders were asked to identify a list of physical elements that made their community truly unique. The lists that they created were used by a graphic designer at Made Midwest to create logos for each community.

These logos will be used next year on t-shirts (sold within the community) intended to increase local pride. They will generate not only pride but community revenue for local development initiatives as well as a forum for practical financial transparency training.

Continue to join us in prayer for these communities. They face uphill emotional, social, political, environmental, spiritual and economic battles in the years to come of this program. We have been so encouraged this year to see leaders step out of the community’s background, churches into public action, and Christ in his transformative power in the midst of these villages. The challenge before them is great, but the hope and resources that they have in their King is far greater.

We look forward to joining them on this next step of their development journey. They have shown incredible resolve and dedication – character that inspires us to continue alongside them. With each dollar they spend on their community, each long bumpy trip to our offices, each minute seeking solutions to local issues, we find our hearts lifted and motivated to continue walking this road together.

We invite you to do the same.

Join us on this development journey with Caliche, Las Lomitas, and Lomas del Aguila.

Thank you as always for your support. We look forward to sharing more with you in 2019 – Year Two of Communities of Holistic Impact!

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