Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Bridge to Turturupe

The existing unsafe bridge, on the road to Turturupe
The Sowers have had teams or someone on the ground with them for almost all of May, June, and July. The same will hold true for August. That is on top of their regular responsibilities with Pastors’ Training School, registering kids for the feeding centers, and working the coffee farm. It’s also in addition to bonus projects like getting ready to build a road on their property to make it easier to access the coffee. And, of course, there’s the seemingly never-ending project of working on their house in their spare time. How does it all get done? It’s all about a willingness to be flexible, my friends!

Last week, one team left and, the following day, a team flew into Honduras through another organization. If you think that would have nothing to do with the Sowers, but you would be wrong! The incoming team was interested in building a bridge, and Allen and Russell are the go-to guys for teams wishing to build a bridge. So, the go-to guys drove 4 hours from one airport to the other, met up with the team, and then they all drove two hours and then walked an hour to the bridge site. Two of the team members were from Puerto Rico and two were from Florida. The whole group went into the mountains to look at a community of about 500 people. Well, actually, that population is made up of three different communities. It takes about an hour to walk to the first one, two hours to walk to the second one, and (You guessed it!) three hours to walk to the third one.

Erosion at the entrance to the bridge.
While the bridge is still usable by pedestrians
and motorcycles, it is no longer safe for
larger vehicles
What the go-to Sowers guys discovered was that the lack of a road is a much bigger problem than the lack of a bridge. There is already an old, damaged bridge, not strong enough for vehicles, which is only impassable to pedestrians about fifteen days a year, when the river floods to an extra-high level. The group high-tailed it to see the mayor and were told there is no money for building a road. Plus, there’s the fact that not one person in the area owns a vehicle.

Flexibility kicked in and the group decided to promote a micro-enterprise idea, which can provide a better source of income for the area’s inhabitants. Currently, people in the area survive by gathering sap from pine trees, which is used for glue, firestarter, and a turpentine-like substance. The process of tapping the pine trees is very damaging and it kills the trees after a few years. It’s an entirely unsustainable practice.

The group decided to find ten families in the church, who will each begin coffee farming on a half acre of land. Three pastors will work together to choose which ten families are the hardest working and most likely to succeed. The families will receive help to buy seeds, bags, fertilizer, and pesticides. They will have no labor costs, as each family should have enough people to do the necessary work. If the families are successful, the group will partner with them again and look at expanding it to other families.

The road to Turturupe
As Allen said, “The proof is in the pudding.” Or, in this case, the proof is in the coffee.

In case you’re wondering, the supervising pastor will receive the funds, and he will be the one to purchase supplies. Some of the people have experience working on coffee farms, and a few even have small coffee farms of their own, but have not had the resources to fertilize it. Allen stressed, “They have the capacity, but not the resources.”

This is definitely one of those instances when someone thought they could help, but helping in the way they had originally planned was simply not the best, most practical way. A bridge and road project would cost around $60,000-$70,000, whereas, this innovative idea will cost around $250 per family. The hope is that these families will tithe on their earnings, thus helping to provide for the community.

Flexibility can be a beautiful thing. - posted by Christi

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