Jennifer Strohecker a member of our board has started a chicken project in the rural villages above Camotan. She just returned from her Christmas trip where her and the Camotan Clinic team provided food and medical care for 114 families. Here is her excellent blog.
Thank you for reading!
Chickens… egg laying chickens.
The idea came to mind after our first meeting- myself, a light skinned outsider and the villages of La Cohoncito. They had showed up to receive food bags – rice, oil, eggs, coffee, salt, nutritional supplements- an extension of our normal medical efforts in response to the starvation and malnutrition from COVID and two back to back hurricanes that ravaged rural Guatemala.
I knew the stats, (I’d been going to Guatemala for many years) but my eyes saw the tan skinned indigenous Mayans before me… children with bloated bellies dressed in torn clothes; men with ribs exposed, visible through loosely fitting shirts; women holding crying infants, who needed more milk than their mothers could produce.
I learned more about this remote village and the lives of the people. A black bean based diet since their corn crop was ruined. One meal per day. Gathering contaminated water from a natural water hole, which refilled itself slowly as the water seeped through rocks.
It was the picture of extreme poverty and “on the edge” living in a remote and isolated village. I turned on my cell phone to snap a picture….it said “welcome to Honduras”… a reminder of where I was standing, on the border of Guatemala and Honduras, in the middle of nowhere…isolated….with starving people standing before me but avoiding my gaze…shy, uncertain, afraid.
The pictures of the bloated bellies, the exposed ribs, and the weak cries of the infants resonated deep within. No food? Hurricanes destroying corn crops? Dirty water? One meal a day? But the faces….. In August we came back.In a symbolic exchange of gifts we distributed young egg laying chicks to open arms of hope. We check in on them. Our nurse traveled to their village; providing additional chicken feed..reminding them of our promise to return.
In December I flew into Guatemala alone with high hopes, pushing aside COVID concerns about a safe return to the States. The desire to walk to the village, check in on our “chicken project” and to fulfill our promise to expand it.
This was my third meeting with them. This time they felt safe; appreciative; hopeful. They expected my visit and had cleaned their dirt floors. They welcomed me and our team…made eye contact as we talked; moved closer than before; let me touch them; exchanged smiles.
I interviewed each family, taking notes.-All hens were healthy and well taken care of with feeders and water-Hens were producing one egg each / day (3 eggs / family) -Hens were safely living in bamboo cages Our pilot was working. But I looked at the families. Thought about the statistics I was writing down. Leocardio with 13 people in her home Isaura with 6 childrenOtelia with 6 children….They were so proud to show me their success with the chickens! But in my mind I saw 3 eggs and the 6 children who each got a small bite.
Our trip went well.
Thanks to your generosity we expanded the program to the remainder of the villages, to begin the process again with new families. Your engagement in this “Chicken Project” Pilot has hope and renewed life to children, women and men living in extreme poverty. With your continued support, we want to take this pilot and expand it.
First, in this village…more chickens… for more eggs. So that each child has a daily egg to eat with his or her daily serving of black beans. That is our vision. Then on to others. Will you join us?