A Glimpse of Poverty in Rural Honduras
Extreme poverty is pervasive in rural Honduras. Low education levels limit adults’ abilities to find jobs.
Because of their low incomes, parents find they can’t afford to send their children to school. Children stay at home or are forced into labor.
Large families live in small, overcrowded homes.
In parts of northern Honduras, people have built makeshift homes along rivers where they are vulnerable to landslides and floods.
Many families also don’t have access to clean water, sewage systems, health care or medicine.
Children commonly suffer from parasites, lice and cavities.
Homes along rivers typically have rudimentary ovens with no ventilation, which causes respiratory and eye problems in children.
In Rural Honduras
Geography & Climate
Honduras has a rugged topography — more than three-fourths of the country is mountainous and wooded.
Most of the population lives in isolated inland mountain communities, where the climate is generally hot and rainy.
Rural farmers are particularly vulnerable to tropical storms originating in the Caribbean Sea.
Most rural residents are farmers, cultivating their own small plots of land, working for meager daily wages on larger farms and estates, or a combination of both.
The poorest of farming families live and work on the sides of mountain slopes, the least productive land.
Erosion and the loss of soil fertility on mountain slopes, combined with primitive farming techniques result in meager crops. And inadequate storage leaves even these small crops vulnerable to destruction by rodents and other pests.
The average daily salary in rural communities is U.S.$4, and nearly half of rural residents are unemployed.
Children at Home
Most rural Honduran families live in huts made of adobe or sugarcane stalks and mud. These homes typically have one or two small rooms, thatched roofs and dirt floors.
There is also much “fence housing” in rural Honduras, where poor families, squeezed off land by plantations, live in tiny huts made of scrap materials in the narrow space between a public road and the landowner’s fence.
Issues and Concerns
- Poor food production and low incomes lead to an extremely low standard of living in the Honduran countryside, where malnutrition and illness are common.
- The typical diet of rural families consists primarily of corn, made into tortillas, and beans. Common foods also include cassava, plantains, rice and coffee. Meat is found infrequently in most rural diets. Green vegetables also are scarce.
- More than one-quarter of rural families have no access to clean, safe water. And just more than half have adequate sanitation.
- Children suffer from easily preventable diseases, such as bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A.
- Children also commonly suffer from mosquito-borne malaria and dengue fever.
Local Needs and Challenges
In rural, agriculturally based communities, economic needs stem from lack of access to land and basic services and low crop productivity.
Lack of employment opportunities
The lack of jobs is a driving force behind the country’s high level of emigration from rural regions to cities.
The rural areas are prone to hurricanes and flooding, particularly in communities located near the Caribbean coast.
Schools and Education
- In Honduras, education is free and compulsory for all children ages 7 to 14. However, the country still suffers from widespread illiteracy — more than 80 percent in rural areas.
- The rural-urban disparity in education is marked: Nearly 60 percent of urban youths, but only 25 percent of rural youths, are enrolled in grades seven through nine.
- For grades 10 through 12, about 38 percent of urban youths are enrolled, compared with 15 percent of rural youths.
- In many rural areas, schools are not easily accessible.
- Schools often don’t have enough teachers, and multiple grades are taught together by the same teacher.
- Some schools are so understaffed that teachers have up to 80 children in one classroom.
Compassion Honduras works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
At Compassion-assisted child development centers in Honduras’ rural communities, children receive the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ.
Along with nutritious meals for healthy physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy.
Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and, most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing real help and hope to impoverished children in rural Honduras, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- training in personal hygiene, such as how to brush their teeth and wash their hands
- prayer, counseling and appropriate interventions for those from abusive homes
- literacy and income-generation training for parents so they can better provide for their children
- spiritual retreats, where children play soccer, swim and learn about the Word of God