Stories of Change

Rafael with his cow. He will give her firstborn calf to a neighbor. Photo: Bethany Beachum

In Honduras, 600 families participate in CWS-supported food security activities.

A wealth of new opportunities in Honduras

Rafael Alvarado has lived in Buena Vista, Honduras, for his whole life. Buena Vista, which means “good view” in English, is a small community located high up in the mountains. In 2013, Rafael joined a CWS-supported program aimed at improving food security for families in the area that is implemented by partner CASM and supported by Foods Resource Bank.

Since starting to partner with CASM, Rafael and his family have been able to make a number of improvements to their home and livelihood. They have a new cement floor, an eco-stove that uses less wood and prevents respiratory illness, a new water storage tank, a vermiculture bin and fencing for their chicken pens.

They have also begun to diversify the crops that they grow thanks to new seeds provided by the program. Before 2013, their income was mostly dependent on coffee production and harvesting. Now, Rafael reports that he now has more than 50 varieties of fruits, vegetables and other crops. They also have beehives for honey production. Rafael says, “Now that we grow all of these things here, we don’t have to buy our food. In fact, we can now share what we have with our neighbors.”

The family also received a calf. They raised her, and they will pay for her by giving away the calf that she is about to give birth to. After they give the first calf to a neighbor, they will be free to keep or sell the cow and any more calves she gives birth to. She is also a great source of both milk and fertilizer for the family.

In reflecting on the program, Rafael says, “Before, other institutions would arrive and collect our signatures, but after that, we didn’t see anything. Now, this one [CASM] has brought real things, positive things. Such as the cow we have over there, that comes with a commitment. The calf [she will give birth to] already has an owner. I don’t think you will hear anyone in any one of these communities say something negative about this project because we are all thankful for it.”

Rafael sees another advantage to partnering with CWS and CASM: he doesn’t feel a need to migrate. He says that he has seen a lot of people migrate to the United States to get rich, but they come back looking no better off than they did when they left. “That’s what I try to tell people – let’s think about Honduras. Here in Honduras, there are riches. Look at that guy right there – he has several bags full of produce that he grew. We didn’t go buy this stuff in the market; we produced it ourselves. That is being rich,” he says.