Leanne Talen Geisterfer and a few others climbed carefully down the slippery side of a hill in Nueva Suyapa, Honduras, using old tires placed in the ground as steps to reach the bottom, where a stream, strewn with refuse, meandered.
Geisterfer is Latin America team leader for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee and was taking the opportunity on this sunny day to visit a garden project that CRWRC helps support through its partners.
The neighborhood in which the group was walking is located near what had once been the city dump for Tegucigalpa. Once a place of scattered, poorly built homes and a climbing crime rate, the area began transforming a few years ago.
“We and others have been reaching out in God’s name to people who are struggling with poverty, hunger, disasters, and injustice to help them find lasting ways to improve their lives,” said Geisterfer.
The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee has worked in Honduras since 1974. Together with its partners, it ministers to more than 17,500 people in 63 of the country’s most impoverished communities.
CRWRC’s work in Honduras focuses on developing poor communities through integrated programs that improve people’s standard of living.
When Geisterfer visited, about 20 women and a few young men were hard at work in the community garden.
The plan, one of the women said, is to grow this garden to the point where they can open a fruit and vegetable stand to help support themselves. Having learned gardening techniques and having received seeds from CRWRC and others, the women are also starting to grow produce in their yards.
About 90 women in all rotate through, working certain days in the garden. Sandra Salazar, coordinator of the women’s group, says that everything they do is done “to give honor and glory to God.”
Celery, tomatoes, beets, lettuce, cucumbers, beans, radishes, and onions fill the plots of turned-up soil. Only a few months before, this had been a bare, scrubby plot of land owned by a local family who has allowed them to plant and harvest here, says one of the women, Gloria Flores.