It is not enough to teach some farmers new agricultural techniques or to help families build wood conserving stoves. What is more valuable is helping communities take charge of their own future. The leaders of Sustainable Villages Honduras chose Vecinos Honduras in 2015 as a partner in improving the environment and the wellbeing of people in half a dozen villages in the Honduran Department of Santa Barbara. They chose Vecinos precisely because its way of working with impoverished families and villages is to “teach people to fish” not give them the fish.
Vecinos builds on a legacy of decades of creative work in Honduras by many organizations in helping impoverished communities to practice agro-ecology—the using of agricultural techniques that preserve the environment. Vecinos is a one of many non-profit organizatons that work with each other in the National Association for the Promotion of Ecological Agriculture (ANAFAE).
Many Vecinos staff and board members have supported this movement for decades. Since its founding as a Honduran NGO (non-government organization) in 2009, Vecinos has worked with several dozen villages and several hundred families in three departments in the southeast and south of Honduras. They teach farmers techniques that use native seeds and natural fertilizers and pesticides and that conserve and improve soil. Then, they teach these farmers to teach others as part of a "campesino a campesino" (farmer to farmer) approach that has taken root in Honduras over the past 40 years.
The Vecinos approach reflects a deep belief that women and young people must play leadership roles in improving agriculture, family health, and the prosperity of villages. They are encouraged to assume leadership positions on water boards or savings and loan organizations. They train others and work together to earn extra income. Vecinos bases this philosophy on several decades of movements to promote agro-ecology and self-sufficient communities.
Through Groundswell International (“Groundswell”), Vecinos is linked with NGOs teaching agro-ecology and village sustainability in Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti in the Western Hemisphere, in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Senegal in Africa, and in Nepal in South Asia. In the years before becoming a tax-exempt organization in the U.S. in April 2018, Sustainable Village Honduras was well exposed to the Groundswell philosophy in part because Groundswell served as the fiscal sponsor of SVH
Vecinos Honduras Staff
Edwin Escoto, Executive Director, is the founding president of Vecinos Honduras
and currently serves as its Executive Director. A licensed agronomic engineer, he
has had more than 12 years of experience in rural sustainable development in both
the village and regional levels across Central America including in Honduras,
Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Edwin also spent four years as a coordinator with the
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), where he was
responsible for the technical team in the rural areas of El Paraiso, Honduras.
Roy Lara, Santa Barbara Project Coordinator, has been working to improve agriculture and the environment in the department of Santa Barbara for more than a dozen years. A licensed agronomic engineer, he has extensive experience in tree nursery creation, reforestation, and environmental education of children and youth.
He shares the Vecinos belief in empowering whole communities to improve the
lives of their families and in seeking partnerships for greater impact. He has
introduced many youth and adult visitors from the U.S. to the many ways that improved agriculture can help lift families in Honduras out of poverty. He has reached many more Americans during his nearly annual visits to the U.S. to speak about his work.
Idania Reyes joined the Santa Barbara Vecinos staff in September 2017 as a co-field trainer with Roy Lara. She facilitates programs for women and youth, and also coordinates village work to improve the health of each SVH community and to find and develop ways for villagers to earn income. She holds a bachelor degree in social work in communities and has completed courses for a licensing degree in social development.
During twenty years of experience in economic and social development programs (many of which were predecessors or affiliates of the non-profit ChildFind International) Idania became skilled at supporting local financial organizations and entrepreneurs, at working with municipal and local governments to improve health, at supporting education through parent organizations, and at facilitating groups to learn how to use natural medicines. These are all skills she has drawn on in her work for Vecinos. Idania shares with Roy a strong belief that people should not be given things to help them but rather taught how to help themselves.