Eight-year-old Alan runs quickly to the field, bends down and picks a big, beautiful carrot. His father, Gerardo Rodriguez (46), opens the irrigation system to water his crop, including the carrots, which is Alan´s favorite vegetable. Little Alan and his family live in the community of Cerro Verde, located in the high region of Marcala, Honduras. Every morning after breakfast and a good cup of coffee, Gerardo walks through his fields to check the vegetables and determine if they are ready to be sent to market. At the same time, Alan says goodbye to his mother Mirna and walks to school with other children from the community.
“I’m very happy that my son is healthy. He is doing well at school, and with my business, I can definitely support his future,” Gerardo says with a smile.
Gerardo had to gain confidence, work hard and defeat many challenges to support his family. As a traditional farmer, he only grew corn and beans. This was not enough to feed his family. During a long summer with no rain, he lost his bean harvest and the only food for his family was corn. “During that time, I felt desperate, sad and depressed. My children were just eating a small tortilla with salt on it. That was it! We didn’t have [anything] else,” he sadly remembers.
Alan and other children in the community were malnourished. People started to sell their land and migrated to the larger cities in Honduras hoping to find a job and change their lives. “People love their community. They don’t want to leave, but they didn’t have a choice; they need food and a job. And just when this idea started to cross my mind, something amazing [happened]… World Vision,” Gerardo says. World Vision came into the community and recruited farmers to be part of the THRIVE program. Gerardo, along with other farmers, decided to join the program. During the training, they learned how to organize and form a savings group, and they learned business skills, product diversification and how to access bigger and better markets.
Today, each farmer has his own plot. Gerardo now produces, carrots, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes and taro. Each of his vegetables are sold to Hondu-Chip, a Honduran company that export chips made out of healthy vegetables. Thanks to World Vision’s support and training, Gerardo´s income has increased from 400 lempiras ($16) to 4000 lempiras ($162) weekly. Now he is able to employ others and provide his family with better access to food, education and health. Mirna and other women in the community have learned how use the nutritious vegetables to cook healthy recipes for their children to improve their health, and Alan and other children in the community are now healthy .
“What can I say? World Vision came into our lives, into the community and changed everything,” Gerardo says. “Thanks to the Empowered Worldview training, we definitely learned how we can change our mindset and move forward to development. Thank you, World Vision, and keep helping other communities in need.”