The Really Poor
February, 2014

Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." Matt. 25:40

Published by the Society of the Good Shepherd, P. O. Box 122, Amberson, PA 17210. (717) 349-7033

Honduras microloan A few weeks ago, Deborah and I were in Honduras, where we were privileged to meet some of the recipients of the rocket stoves that our various readers donated this past fall. In the process of doing this, Deborah and I met some of the poorest people who live in and around Siguatepeque.

The first of the really poor we met was a widow named Carmen. A shop owner in town had called Luis Vega while we were there and told us about her. This man asked if we could give her one of the rocket stoves—to which we readily agreed. We then loaded a rocket stove into Luis’ pickup truck and drove over to where Carmen lives. We knew she was poor, but we didn’t realize how bad her circumstances were until we met her.

Honduras microloan Carmen is 47 years old. Her husband died several years ago. Until recently, Carmen worked in a local restaurant. However, now Carmen has rheumatoid arthritis, which so cripples her that she is unable to work. In fact, she can’t even make tortillas for her son and her to eat. Carmen and her 12-year-old son had been homeless until recently. The shop owner who introduced us to her had met her a few months ago and asked her if she was looking for work. When she explained her situation to him, he erected a small shelter out of tin for her and her son to live in on some property he owns. Carmen has no table or other furniture, and she and her son sleep on a twin boxsprings on the dirt floor. We didn’t get to meet her son, as he is working two jobs right now to support the two of them. He and his mother have to bathe out in the open with cold water out of a barrel. But they are very grateful just to have a place to sleep.

Honduras microloan As we drove away, Luis, Deborah, and I realized we had to do something to help Carmen and her son. We felt certain that our readers and the families in our church would want to help as well. So Luis is already purchasing a table, bunk beds, and other furniture for Carmen and her son. Luis will also have an outdoor shower stall constructed for her. He also told us about a tortilla press that some of the stores sell, which we could purchase for her. Even with her arthritic hands, she would be able to operate the press to make tortillas to cook on the rocket stove.

Honduras microloan The next day after meeting Carmen, as we were visiting some of the rocket stove recipients, we met other people whose situations were as desperate as hers. One was Victoriano, an older homeless Indian man. A poor family invited Victoriano to build a rustic hut in their backyard out of sticks, scrap boards, tin, plastic bags, and a discarded plastic tarp. Victoriano has no furniture except for a crude bed, and he cooks on an open fire he builds on the dirt floor of his hut. The fire fills his whole hut with smoke as it finds its way out of cracks and openings.

We told Victoriano we would bring him a rocket stove, which will need only about 1/4 as much wood as his open fire. We are also going to hire a man to construct a vent for the stove so that the smoke is piped out of the hut. Hopefully, Victoriano has not already ruined his lungs from living in a smoke-filled hut.

Honduras microloan After leaving Victoriano’s hut, we visited a woman named Luisa who lives just a short distance from him. She is living with several out-of-wedlock children in a crude shelter she has constructed out of used plastic tarps. I had seen such shelters after Hurricane Mitch hit in 1999, but I had not realized that anyone near Siguatepeque was still living in such shelters. Luisa has been cooking on a handmade clay stove inside her shelter, which—like Victoriano’s—fills it with smoke. So we told Luisa we would be bringing her a rocket stove as well.

While returning to Luis’ house, we drove by the shelter in which Angel Ramirez and his family live. He and his family received a rocket stove from the Society last fall. His shelter was no better than that of Luisa. As we were flying home the next week, I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that my goats have a better place to live than any of these four people I’ve mentioned. Even worse, I realized that my tools have a better place to live than they do.

Honduras microloan Yet just a few hundred dollars for each person would make a drastic change in their living conditions—giving them furniture, kitchen utensils, warmer blankets, and a host of other things that we take for granted in the U. S. For a few more hundred dollars, we could make a considerable improvement in the huts and shelters they live in. In fact, for a few thousand dollars, we could build simple but well-constructed houses for them. Would you help us to do this? David Bercot

The Society of the Good Shepherd, P. O. Box 122, Amberson, PA 17210 • (717) 349-7033

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