- Tom Hackett
Why Roatan, Honduras?
Located in the heart of Central America between Guatemala and Nicaragua, Honduras is known for its natural beauty, rich culture and warm people. Unfortunately, it’s also widely believed to be the poorest country in Latin America.
The combination of massive unemployment, a national health crisis, little government support for education, healthcare or social services, and lingering devastation from Hurricane Mitch has only worsened the situation. The result is a cycle of poverty and crime that’s almost impossible to break without direct intervention. Thousands of children are abandoned, impoverished or orphaned, many living on the streets or in conditions most people would find unimaginable.
• 60% of Honduras’ 8 million inhabitants live in terrible poverty
• 36% of the population are children
• 52% of families in Honduras are single parent families – most led by women struggling to raise large families
• Crime rates are high and where women are the offenders, Honduran policy requires that babies up to two years old be imprisoned with their mothers. Often children are born there.
• The devastating force of 1998’s Hurricane Mitch left over 1 million people homeless and living in unsanitary, unsafe conditions. Many have never recovered what they lost and remain homeless to this day.
• Honduras is home to 70% of AIDS cases in Central America.
• Only 40% of Honduran students complete primary school.
Roatan is a small, 40 mile long, 4 mile wide island located 30 miles off of the north coast of Honduras. Alternative Missions had been working in Roatan, Honduras since 1995. After establishing a medical and dental facility, as well as a school on the small island of Helene, AM’s director, Tom Hackett , confronted with the ever increasing issue of poverty on the island, established Dwellings, as a ministry of Alternative Missions in 2010.
As conditions worsened on the mainland and tourism increased on the islands, Roatan became a haven for those searching for work. Many of the families that arrived in Roatan had no place to live and quickly established small communities, (colonias) in different locations. These colonies provided space to throw together structures of whatever materials families could find. Sadly, many homes had no floors, no way of securing the building and no hope of surviving the next rainfall. In addition to the needs that were being presented by helping local island families, the families living in the colonias were in desperate need of help.
Today, more than 100 homes have been built in Roatan alone through the partnership of Dwellings and our volunteer teams. Children have a safe home; they are completing their education, receiving healthcare and are thriving. The ability to focus limited finances on education and healthcare, rather than keeping a roof over the families head have provided opportunities for people to start new businesses, help others and provide hope.
Dwellings continues to build homes and change lives in Roatan, Honduras. We are inviting you to join us on a build and see firsthand the difference that a new home can make in the life of a family. Contact us today and find out how YOU can do this!