Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Villages celebrate new harvest after April’s hail damage

Youth from Chimizal attend the harvest celebration.
The floor of the church in Chimizal is covered with pine needles, and flowers decorate the walls. People from the village fill the benches and the aisles, joining a worship service of celebration for the recent harvest.

Months earlier, on April 2, a rare hail storm struck the villages of La Unión, hitting the villages of Chimizal, San Agustín and Lepagual especially hard. The hail, some of which was the size of baseballs, damaged hundreds of houses, contaminated water sources, and ravaged farmland. Coffee farms, which provide income for families, were heavily damaged, as were vegetable farms that provided food for families. As farm owners cut down on work in damaged fields, families who depend on this day labor were not able to earn money.

The roof of the church in Chimizal still bears signs of the hail.
Immediately after the storm, the president of Unión MicroFinanza (UMF) contacted the president of Medical, Education, Training and Development, Inc. (METAD) to discuss disaster assistance and relief for families whose sources of food and income had been destroyed. They became aware of severe food insecurity and starvation in the three villages, where 92 percent of the people usually live on less than $1 per day before the storm cut this income dramatically.

To address the immediate need caused by the storm, METAD sent funds to UMF to facilitate food purchase in Honduras, coordinate and train volunteers from local Catholic churches, and work with village leaders to distribute emergency food packets to families affected by the storm. The goal of the initiative was to serve as a bridge through the summer, providing necessary nutrition until the harvest of beans and corn in late August. 

In the church in Chimizal, we’re gathered with the community and Michelle Noordhof of METAD, who is visiting. Orlando, one of the village leaders, presents us with the fruit of the harvest that now sustains families in the village: beans, squash, yucca, and foods made from freshly-ground corn. Through the work of METAD, UMF and community leaders, 570 people received necessary food aid and are now celebrating the new crops and regrowth after the storm.

Orlando of Chimizal introduces Patrick of UMF and Michelle of METAD.


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