"As a thought experiment, I wonder what would happen if everyone that is trying to "help" Honduras would just stop. And I mean everyone - NGOs, religious groups, foreign governments, etc. - everyone except Hondurans....
[A]ll this "help" has disabled the Hondurans from doing for themselves, similar to the way the U.S.A. government´s "war on poverty" has basically destroyed the American black family. Liberal guilt at work again. At the individual level, MANY here depend of money sent by relatives/boyfriend
We can debate all day whether or not the latino culture as found in Mexico and C.A. is "not motivated enough" to do for themselves..
Unfortunately, I don´t see any of this changing. Neither on the part of the beggars or the donors. The beggars have a good thing going, and the donors have their own agendas that drive them to "help" despite its futility....
However, to me, there is a world of difference between long term volunteers here to enter into our children´s lives and the countless tee shirt groups who arrive daily at the airport, coming into the country for a week or two to ¨help¨. To me, this feeds the terrible habit of so many in the country to hold out their hands, waiting for someone else to give them stuff. Why on earth should 30 people or so come in to build a building?? I believe Hondurans know perfectly well how to build a building. Better to donate the funds needed to a permanent presence in Honduras and employ local people to actually build the buildings. I fear that so many people come here for their own well-being and do not really spend the time analysing the problems here.
All we have to do is look at Haiti. That country has received more international aid over a longer period of time that any other. And has the poverty rate decreased? Has the educational level improved? Are the people now able to fend for themselves? No to all three and so many other questions we might ask to evaluate the impact of this type of aid.
Why "poor countries stay poor" is not an uncertain science yet to be discovered or unraveled by experts. A handful of books, plenty of research and work has been done to analyze, understand and tackle this worldwide phenomenon. While corruption, bad politics, crime, lack of education/opportuni
Honduras is no exception. Honduras remains poor because the country, as a society, is not interested in coming out of poverty. Be it because the impoverished doesn't know or is unable to find a better way of improving their current situation or because the rich and powerful is not interested in distributing the wealth for a greater middle class among Hondurans. Sure, let's have a poll and ask Hondurans how many of them would like Honduras to be a rich, prosperous country instead of poor? I would venture to say the vast majority would be in favor for a rich Honduras. But does the average Honduran know what it takes for a country to be wealthy? I'm sure they are Hondurans of all walks of life: from the laborer, the student, the small business owner, the college graduate, the professional worker, to the politician, the well-established businessmen and the rich who have ideas of how to turn their country around but realize it is impossible to change a nation alone.
I don't believe Hondurans have reached a consensus agreement of how to push their country out of poverty into a prosperous one. The average unemployed, poor-educated Honduran is more likely to immigrate illegally out of Honduras in hopes for a better life than remaining in Honduras and find ways to not only improve their own lives but the lives of everyone else. But who would blame him or her if he/she lives in a society where the vast majority remain poor and the tiny fraction of wealthy get richer? But isn't this the case for every society even in rich countries- the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Or is there an equilibrium?
I have spoken to Hondurans in the United States who tell me, "Honduras is hopeless. Even if you are lucky enough to graduate from college, you will have to settle with driving a taxi. Even if you have great plans on how to fix the country, those above you- those in power and with money won't let you because they are not interested in a rich Honduras, they are only interested in getting rich themselves." Is this really the mentality of the businessman and politician in Honduras? "I want to run a businesses in Honduras and be very rich, however, I don't want the rest of the people to get a chance as well." How do they expect to run a successful business if the majority of the population are too poor to buy?
NGOs, charities, international aid-- these are all great things but it would be better to tackle the real reasons why Honduras 50 years from now will still be a poor country....
[O]nce that first banana boat hit Utila 150 years ago, the time was past to leave folks to sink or swim. We in the US, whether we intended to or not, have created and influenced many of problems that have contributed to the downward spiral in Honduras. Our insatiable desire for cocaine and cheap material goods has a tremendous impact on the daily lives of Hondurans. Perhaps the responsible thing to do is to at least try to create some balance (i.e. education and health support) so that folks at least have a chance to improve their lot in life....
I agree with other posters, the change has to come from within...the next generation, the children, who many of us have felt called to serve. To love them and care for, to give them our best so they can be the change....
I do personally believe that those who are investing in them will do more than any amount of money from a government..
The above comments were written by several people, people who live in the country and came here, generally, from other countries.
I find that I agree totally with the comments made by these readers. I have witnessed the futility of sending aid to Honduras when one sees the money being funneled off into the pockets of those entrusted with distributing them properly. I have seen unfinished project creating nothing but a scar on the land; poorly built projects not lasting because the supplies to maintain are not available nor are their qualified people to operate any machinery that is installed. The people of this country have no idea what it actually takes to build up, run and maintain a society that will benefit all. The present government suppresses them, refuses to educate them and keeps the wealth to themselves by stealing from those countries who are the "givers."
As an example, the people of this tiny island actually believe that they can get Great Britain to take them back into the fold and free them from the government of Honduras and make them their own, independent country under British rule. They have no idea of what structure is need to establish a "new" country, how they would earn funds to fun their government. All they expect is that if they get enough people to petition Great Britain and are excepted, then the British will subsidize them and allow them to govern themselves.
I have longed hoped that leading world organizations would stop sending aid and if they did insist in helping, that they establish strict guidelines to follow insisting on outside people handling the funds, supervising the work and seeing that the projects are completed. I would also like to see these same organizations research whatever project they are funding and take into account that with limited electric power, maintenance equipment, properly trained personnel certain things should not be funded.
Right now we have a "tourist" center being built on the island next to the new airport. Originally our "airport" consisted, for years I might add, of a small grass hut where refreshments were sold and a roof was available to protect one from the rain. It was all we needed, functioned as expected, was run by locals and everyone was comfortable with the way things were. A new building was proposed and later built supposedly to be used as an "Airport" terminal and in the end it was a failure. Many problems - one door leading in and out spelled danger if there was a panic, fire or emergency. The bathrooms were never properly drained to a septic, the water never hooked up, the work shoddy and started disintegrating immediately. No one ever used this building and the only thing they did use it for was to put chairs outside on the walk way to sit in waiting for planes. It ended up being used for storage for bags of cement and lumber and is now in disarray.
Then they decided to build a new terminal which, on the whole, is pleasant looking, airy and comfortable. Funding was made available from somewhere and all in all the new terminal is a plus.
However, we have fewer tourists coming here and no one that has enough training to inform guests, in English, what they can see and do here and how to get around. But, someone somewhere got it in their head (maybe it was pushed by locals here, I don't know) that we needed a "tourist center" . This is now being built and, in my opinions, will simply be a waste of construction money. Why? Because there are no funds to pay anyone to man this center. They would have to have a way to get to the airport as there are only water taxis available and who would pay for them? They would have to be capable and responsible enough to man the center 6 days a week for a few hours in the morning and return for a few hours in the afternoon. And who wants a job where no one comes to you to uss the training, if any, you might have?
The main problems here are really not problems aFinding a water taxi here is not difficult. 99.9% of the tourists who come here already have reservations at a hotel for their vacation and, therefore, do not need the services this center would provide.
I would predict that this center will go into disuse, eventually be locked up for lack of interest and money to pay someone to staff it. But that is my opinion. I wish I could be more upbeat about it, but after 15 years here I have come to see the light and can reasonably deduce the outcome.
I'm sure that I'll get backlash with this blog but the question original put forth above, sparked my interest and I was finally able to hear that other people agree with me.
If you want someone to get fish for dinner, don't go out and catch the fish for him - teach him how to fish.