“Who would have thought 25 years ago that we’d still be carrying on strong,” remarked Roy Berkenbosch, former director and founder of the Micah Centre at The King’s University, as he welcomed supporters to a recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Honduras Water Project. “This is a day for celebrating, for memories, and for recommitting ourselves.”
Alumni, current students, local Christian Reformed Church members, and friends and supporters from World Renew and the Northern Alberta Diaconal Conference (an organization of deacons within Classis Alberta North) celebrated March 7 on The King’s campus in Edmonton, Alta. Rolando Pinzon, a constituency bridger for World Renew in Honduras, traveled to Edmonton especially for the occasion. He noted, “It’s been 25 years of transforming the life of Hondurans, but also 25 years of letting Hondurans transform you.”
Since 1995, participants of the Honduras Water Project have traveled each May from King’s to work alongside Hondurans to construct simple, effective, and low-maintenance gravity water systems, as well as pilas (water reservoirs) and latrines, while at the same time experiencing and learning from the local culture.
Erin Greidanus, a King’s graduate who participated in two separate trips, said, “The Honduras Water Project is so much more than just bringing clean, readily accessible water to communities. It brings about a shared sense of humanity. We are able to share a glimpse of our starkly contrasting lives, coming to realize that there is not that much that separates us at all. We share meals together, share a laugh, and share the field in a game of football. We understand each other in the most human of ways, even though we cannot say more than 10 words to each other. The memories of my two trips to Honduras will continue to shape my understanding of the world far into the future.”
In the project’s first year, the traveling group included university students and community members with support from NADC. The churches of Classis Alberta North have continued to support the project with special offerings. World Renew (at the time the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee) became a partner early on, supporting the work now for more than 20 years.
Since the beginning, 300 King’s students have participated, each raising funds to contribute to the costs of the three-week-long trips. Students have the option of taking the Honduras Water Project for course credit.
Saul Carvajal, a 2018 King’s graduate who will earn his education degree this year, is originally from Colombia and fluent in Spanish. He participated in three consecutive projects in the communities of Varsovia and El Espino and gave a presentation at the anniversary gathering. Carvajal reflected on a petition from The Lord’s Prayer, Give us this day our daily bread. Noting that for many in North America getting our daily bread is not a concern, Carvajal shared an experience at an Edmonton inner city agency where he was reminded that for the poor, praying for one’s daily bread is a real and serious matter.
“This made me think about the communities of Varsovia and El Espino,” he said. “Not only do they pray, ‘Give us today our daily bread,’ but also, ‘Give us today our daily water.’ I hope that as we continue to ask for our daily bread, we remember to join our Honduran friends in praying for their daily water.”
Five days after The King’s University’s recognition of this milestone, developments in the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak led to recommendations for travel restrictions. On March 12, the university issued an update noting, “All out-of-province and out-of-country class and athletics trips are suspended until further notice.” The annual May trip to Honduras may not take place this year.