Rural poverty in Honduras is among the most severe in Latin America. Approximately 53% of the population is rural, and it is estimated that 75% of the rural population lives below the poverty line, unable to meet basic needs. The country still has high rates of population growth, infant mortality, child malnutrition and illiteracy. These and other social and economic factors reflect its status as the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti. (source: IFAD)
In 2008 UOF visited Santa Rosa de Copan, a beautiful mountain town in the northern part of Honduras. This is where we met a young man from Alberta, Phil Davidson. Phil went to Honduras as a single person shortly after Hurricane Mitch in 1998, to help with emergency housing and stayed there to develop a youth centre in a marginal neighbourhood. He lived in a small room in the centre and ran it for a number of years and is still the influencing factor at the centre. He since married a Honduran woman and has two children.
The project Phil has created in Santa Rosa is a rural youth leadership training program. Students live in residence and work and study from 8 in the morning until 10 at night. The program is divided into three components: agricultural training in the mornings, trades training in the afternoons and junior high in the evenings. This program collaborates with the Western Honduras Arts and Trades School for skill development in wood and metal work and a public junior high school for the academic education.
The boys are selected from isolated communities and have to live in Santa Rosa to attend the school. When UOF met Phil he didn’t have a dormitory for the students to sleep and the temporary living arrangements were not an ideal situation. Phil presented UOF with a plan to build an 8000 sq. ft. building on the training farm property to house the boys and provide space for a food processing operation.
After reviewing the plan Universal Outreach Foundation committed to raising $90,000 to assist with this needed infrastructure. With the support of their donors UOF completed this financial commitment in 2010. On our trip to Honduras in October 2010 we were able to see the final touches being put on the building and attend the first graduation ceremony.
Building the new school