For many people in many places this word carries different meanings. People’s meaning of it directly relates to their involvement within it. Communities come in all shapes and sizes, revolving around certain ideas and beliefs.
I have spent time throughout different communities; I’ve often adventured to different cities and countries for both long and short amounts of time, but after living 10 months in this mountain village of La Union, I have already developed such a strong sense of community; personally I feel an inexperienced sense of belonging. I don’t claim to know everyone on a personal basis, but I’ve evolved and continue evolving from gringo/stranger to catracho/neighbor.
This hit me most recently when I arrived back from spending two weeks in New York. Granted, I wasn’t gone from La Union very long, but the second I exited from the rear of the old converted school bus at Hilario’s pulperia with all my luggage, he helped me in from the rain and chatted until the downpour turned into a drizzle. Martir happened to see me from my front porch and came to help me with my heavy suitcase.
Everyone began asking about my recent vegetable harvest. Though the garden grew to be a disaster within the period of my absence, I was able to harvest 25 cucumbers and a pound of green beans. Instead of hoarding my harvest for my roommates, I thought better to meander around town during my first day back to reengage with my friends in La Union, bringing them fruits (technically vegetables) of my labor. We did also save some cucumbers and green beans for dinner later that night and batter fried them. They were unusually delicious to say the least. I highly recommend it.
I’m preparing my second harvest currently, and have ideas for the municipality to grow a communal garden located right next to the kindergarten to be sold at the farmers market to raise money for educational supplies. If I can’t get them on board with my idea (which I think would do wonders for village unity) I want to use my organic garden as an inspiration for others to grow on whatever small plot of land they have. As a matter of fact, Gilberto told me I inspired him to plant an additional corn yield in his front yard. He promised me a masorca/stalk after I spotted the first top flowers.
I certainly have more community building to do, but I can’t walk down the street without stopping to converse with someone I share some history with. I was eager to return to Honduras for a variety of reasons, but returning to a community that I feel a part of topped the list. Fortunately for me, I’m Manager of Community Relations and Union MicroFinanza is doing a great job relating to the village. It’s almost impossible not to become so ingrained from everything we do. What’s great is that the rest of the team is finding their own place in La Union which makes Union MicroFinanza’s success that much more meaningful and worthwhile.
By Daniel Schwartz