A Honduran Mother’s Hope

There was a white blanket spread out across the ground. Placed upon it were small matches and individual hard candies. These were the items for sale for a few cents. A Honduran mother who was around 30 years old stood behind the blanket with her young girls who looked to be about 6 and 2 years old. The Sunday market in Candelaria, the town where I was living as a Catholic Relief Services Volunteer attracts up to 4000 people from outlying rural towns on any given Sunday. What hope does a women have of eking out a dignified existence for herself or her children by selling 1 cent items, one time per week?

I began to get to know Reina Isabel. She is single mother of three (she also has a 8 year old son). Her husband left her and eventually went to the United States where he later began a relationship with a different woman. She is no longer in contact with him and receives no financial assistance from him. She lives in a two room house without electricity and earthen floors. She does have running water. She is able to read and write, but only formally studied through sixth grade. She hopes to save enough money to be connected with electricity in the 25 house town of Portillo Flor.

employed at a CRS supported recycling center

Reina Isabel, a single mother of three, is now employed at a CRS supported recycling center in Cadelaria, Honduras. Photo by Michael Klatt/CRS

As part of my volunteer work, I started a recycling project with the community of Candelaria in February of 2007. The goal was to create a sustainable and attractive site for managing waste and recyclable materials, as well as creating employment opportunities. I initially became interested in this project for two reasons. I saw how a local dumping site stained the awesome natural beauty of the countryside. I also felt compelled to become involved when I saw young children occasionally working unprotected amongst the waste on the garbage truck.

Soon, I was working alone at the dumping site two days a week for 3-5 hours. I needed someone to help me. Reina Isabel accepted my offer and we began to work alongside each other with rubber boots and gloves, trying to put order to a dump. She took a chance on me.

Reina Isabel has continued to work twice a week at this ongoing project. She now has another young woman, Lety, who works alongside her. They now wear a navy blue overall uniform and a matching hat. They earn a small monthly salary from the local government. The project and their employment needs critical support. I am far away now in Chicago, but I cannot clear them or their struggles from my mind.

Michael Klatt is a CRS volunteer who helped create a waste management project in Honduras. He is currently completing his volunteer work at the Diocese of Chicago, Illinois communicating to parishes about Honduras and CRS. This entry is part of a series of personal reflections from CRS volunteers, sharing from their journey and experience overseas.

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One Response to “A Honduran Mother’s Hope”

  1. Meg Sage Says:

    This recycling project sounds like a great program. I will keep Reina Isabel and her family in my prayers. Hopefully this program will gain the support it needs to continue providing the opportunities it does for the community of Candelaria.

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