Transforming Lives

Every day, all over the world, USAID brings peace to those who endure violence, health to those who struggle with sickness, and prosperity to those who live in poverty. It is these individuals — these uncounted thousands of lives — that are the true measure of USAID’s successes and the true face of USAID's programs.

Honduras was not prepared for a major natural disaster like Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Officials were unable to gauge how quickly the rivers were rising from the constant rain, and thus did not know when to take the necessary steps to evacuate people into secure areas. On the other end of the spectrum, droughts are characteristic in parts of Honduras, but residents usually do not become aware of the shrinking rivers until it is too late.

As in many countries, people living with HIV/AIDS in Honduras face challenges and obstacles as a result of their HIV-positive status. Puerto Cortés, the country’s leading port, is no exception, and in some cases HIV-positive people have even been denied medical and educational services. Frustrated with this treatment, the people living with the disease in Puerto Cortés soon began to openly voice their HIV-positive status and fight discrimination.

On the north coast of Honduras, residents still remember that fateful week in October 1998 when Hurricane Mitch caused massive destruction and left many without homes.  Five years later, another storm hit with rain pouring down for three straight days on the northern towns of La Masica, Arizona, Esparta El Porvenir and La Ceiba - the third largest city in Honduras. 

In 2000, only twenty percent of the raw milk produced in Honduras was being processed due to its poor quality resulting from inadequate on-farm milk sanitation and handling as well as a lack of cooling facilities. Farmers faced low productivity, reduced income, and severe price fluctuations as a result of this inferior milk quality.

Life is not easy for Iris Cálix. Her two-year-old daughter has a medical condition that requires treatment in the capital city of Tegucigalpa in Honduras once a month. This involves a long trip, most of it on dirt roads. Although her daughter’s special needs take up much of her time, this does not stop her from being the only woman to volunteer at the Community Health Center in the rural community of Zacate Blanco. Iris is one of eight volunteers who give of their time every day to educate their community.

Jose Gomez, who successfully completed drug rehabilitation treatment at Proyecto Victoria, now works as a volunteer at the Center. Proyecto Victoria, a residential center for drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation, is the only hope for many Hondurans addicted to drugs and alcohol. There are approximately sixty young men undergoing therapy at the Center at any given time. The residents work the land at the Center to grow crops used by its residents.

With USAID support over a seven-year period, a new Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) became effective in early 2002. The CPC introduced changes to the criminal justice system in Honduras, including oral adversarial trials, transparent procedures, and greater protections for individual rights. Implementation of this new system required a series of efforts. Among the most important initiatives were changing the country’s perception of the criminal justice system and educating citizens and administrators of this new system.

Small farmers in Honduras have traditionally planted corn, beans and coffee, mostly for subsistence. Any surplus was sold on the local market, earning small profits. With the possible ratification of international trade agreements, Honduran small farmers need to become more competitive to remain viable and profitable in the global marketplace. And while sweet potatoes were traditionally grown in small volumes for the local market, farmers did not have international networks or the expertise to produce a high-quality crop.

Fidel Caballero owns the cheese plant Lácteos Palmares and is one of many artisan cheese producers in Honduras who struggled to provide quality products for local and international markets. Although his plant has been around for more than 40 years and is considered a pioneer in cheese production, it has grown slowly due to poor infrastructure, equipment, expertise and marketing.

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Last updated: January 12, 2015