Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Life in La Unión, by the numbers

By Kayli Horne

¡Buenos! Kayli here, the newest addition to the UMF intern team this summer. My academic year didn’t end till mid-June, so I’m just getting settled here in beautiful La Unión.

Here’s a bit about myself: I just finished my first year studying at the University of Chicago. I haven’t decided a major yet, but I’m interested in the social sciences, particularly sociology, public policy, and human rights. 

But before moving to Chicago, I grew up in Spring Lake, MI, where I got involved with Unión MicroFinanza. Last summer I helped Andrew sell coffee on Saturday mornings at Muskegon Farmer’s Market, and would explain to customers what UMF does for the farmers and community here in Honduras. This was all second-hand information, however, because I had never been there myself! The beauty of being able to spend the summer here in La Unión is getting to see the mission of the organization played out daily. But—it’s only been a week! To give you a sense of what life is like in La Unión, here’s a look at my first week—by the numbers:

Hondurans who told me I looked like my brother: 7

Dillon, one year older than me, was an intern for UMF last summer. It’s clear he made quite the impression on many people in La Unión; they all seem to remember him and miss him a lot.

Even though I’ve only been here one week, I can already see how building relationships with the community is at the top of UMF’s priority list.  Rather than imposing what we as Americans think the community needs, we are asking the community through genuine relationships.

The view from my front porch.
Sightings from my front door of clouds below the mountaintops: 3

All I could think was: I’m never going back to the Midwest. 

Moto rides: 1

I took a motorcycle ride to tour UMF’s beneficio, where the coffee undergoes the first stage of processing. A bit of a coffee nerd myself, I was geeking out at the beneficio.  It’s truly amazing the love and care that goes into every cup of coffee we enjoy in the States. Cooler still, the beneficio serves as a replicable model for the coffee farmers: the goal is to improve the quality of the coffee through sustainable processing. 

Different comedors visited: 2

Comedors (small eateries) are great for two reasons: 1) the food is delicious, read Sakina’s blog post for more info, and 2) It allows us to talk to locals in a friendly, laid-back way. 

Interviews with coffee farmers: 2

The other interns and I visited Sara Juarez and Fito Juarez this week to ask questions about everything from their harvest this year to how many children they have. It’s wonderful to be in the homes of not only local people, but farmers who have sold their coffee to UMF. 

Profiles of farmers made: 18

This is an integral part of what UMF does: connecting the consumer to the farmer.  Through the information we provide the customers of our coffee, they not only know where the farmer is from, but they learn the farmer’s goals, their family and exactly how much money they were paid for their coffee. This is such a clear step up from “Fair Trade,” it seems to me that it is the optimistic future of how we choose to consume.

Bats I witnessed the Hondurans exterminate from the other interns’ house: 3

I’m just glad it wasn’t my house...
Waiting for sunrise over La Unión.

People I stood with as I watched the sunrise over La Unión: 6

Martir, Pedro, and Gilberto (the amazing Hondurans who work for UMF) took Martir’s daughter, Kerry and I on a hike up the mountain to watch the sky light up at 5 a.m.

One week over, nine to go. I look forward to sharing my summer experiences with you via this blog! Stay tuned for updates on life in La Unión. 


  1. Kayli, I'm proud of you and thankful for your posting this blog. I think it's pretty cool that all of this is founded on community relationships. From what I've experienced, it's better to keep the culture and fit into it than to try to change it in any way.

    Continue the journey proudly.

  2. Great post, good to see the UMF intern "by the numbers" blog post tradition alive and well--http://blog.unionmicrofinanza.org/2011/06/not-your-normal-business-school.html

    I'm sure you're having an incredible time and doing great work!

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