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CFCA stories

Honduran mothers clean and connect community

July 22, 2011

Mothers in Honduras clean community and pick up trash with CFCA
Several CFCA trash cans are installed in San Jose
Copan, Honduras. Mothers of sponsored children
started a trash collection initiative in 2010 that has
beautified the community.

Mothers in Honduras are talking trash, and nobody's complaining. Their conversation sparked the idea for a garbage collection program in their community.

In June 2010, mothers of sponsored children in the community of San Jose Copan merged their neighborhood mothers groups to form a larger, stronger unit. Together, they developed the idea of installing trash cans to help keep their community clean.

Without municipal trash pickup, residents typically throw garbage into the street. The garbage ends up clogging the drains.

"[Children and mothers] had to walk to school through this contamination," said Cristina Guadalupe, one of the mothers involved in the project. "Now it's different." Two of Cristina's children, Lizzye and Edgar, are sponsored through CFCA.

Each of the smaller mothers groups organized fundraisers — such as selling tacos and tamales — and purchased 12 trash cans for about $47 apiece.

With the 12 trash cans and other tools, the mothers successfully implemented their trash collection initiative.

"The other equipment, such as sweepers, shovels ... was donated by the mothers," said Silvia, whose youngest son, Wilmer, is sponsored. "We started using plastic bags, but they would not last long, so a local neighbor donated sacks which lasted much longer."

Mothers in Honduras clean community and pick up trash with CFCA
Mothers and other community members in San Jose Copan
remove trash from the streets.

With the proper supplies and encouragement from the community, the women began cleaning their streets.

"There has been a great support from the mothers of sponsored children as well as from the municipality and non-CFCA-related people," Silvia said. "We had snacks during this cleaning campaign. A mother of a former sponsored child gave us all juice and the mayor offered a little snack at the end of the activity."

The odor of garbage faded away, and the rain cleaned the streets instead of clogging the drains. As the people of San Jose Copan began to see the benefits of the new initiative, their support of the project and the mothers group grew.

"The rest of the people in the community welcomed this group because there hasn't been any other initiative of this nature," said Maria Julia Lopez Garcia, subproject coordinator in Santa Rosa. "No government or institution has executed something like this before."

Ana Martinez, CFCA project director for Honduras, has met some of the mothers involved in the initiative. Although the mothers group had not been together for very long before the project, they show great enthusiasm in their work, she said.

"In a very short time, they've been proposing a lot of really good initiatives. ... They are very motivated to know it is not only for the benefit of their families, but for their community," Martinez said.

The trash collection effort is also an example of how sponsorship empowers families to be forces for positive change in their communities.

Martinez believes that the success of the trash management initiative can inspire mothers in other communities to try similar projects.

"We want to be able to show this example so others can see everything they can do if they organize … if they work together," Martinez said.

As with any good conversation, this one shows no signs of ending soon.

In the future, the mothers of San Jose Copan hope to install more trash cans and expand their service. A local school asked for three trash cans. The mothers hope to raise the money to fulfill the request soon.

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