Meet German Paz and Ester Fernandez
German Paz and Ester Fernandez live in Piedra de Horeb, Honduras, with their two children, Dani (in 4th grade) and Lohani (in kindergarten). German and Ester fight each day to carry to build a better life for their children.
Starting over in Piedra de Horeb brought many challenges for the family. “It was not easy to begin from zero,” say Ester and German, “because we were used to working the land in our own way.” But the challenges also came with hope. Ester and German add, “Agros has taught us to use good production practices, which has allowed us to have better yields. We have also learned many hygiene practices that make it possible for us to have better.”
Ester and German have also learned to grow many new things, which help them diversify their income and diet. “We currently have a tank with 1,600 tilapias growing, which are ready for harvest. We expect an income of $2,300. We also have two plots of yucca, basic grains, and white corn which will also generate additional income.”
Ester is overseer of the Women Community Bank, and a shrewd entrepreneur. She began a project with some of her neighbors to make a 4-grain cereal that is intended to improve child nutrition. Soon afterwards, the option to sell the cereal to child-sponsorship project arose. Ester jumped at the opportunity. “I made the contacts with those in charge of the project, taking a sample for them to taste, which they liked and decided to purchase due to its high nutritional value,” she reported.
German and Ester have made a great team, supporting each other and being successful. “We’re feeling great, we have actually produced 300 lbs. of cereal monthly, and the profit is $535, the idea is to continue to increase production, because of market demand. 9 associates as well as I. work on this project, particularly when demands are high.
“Our dream is to pay off the land Agros has assigned to us,” says German. “So far, we have paid 32% of the total value.”
Periodically, Agros staff accompany donors on trips to view the work they help to fund. Our colleague, Emily, has worked at Agros for more than a decade, and for the first time was able to visit the village of San Jose, Nicaragua. What follows is a journal entry from her first day there.
Oh I have heard about San Jose for so long! The village that didn’t have a JWAV partner at first – the trial run for what would it mean to have a village funded without a partner visiting them regularly? Since then of course San Jose has two awesome village partners – Greenwood Christian Church and ELM! So I eagerly anticipated my visit to this community and my expectations were exceeded. What a gift to see this community today. We got off Oscar’s bus, to an awesome sign saying:
"Agroaldea San Jose
29 familias beneficiadas
Acceso a tierra y asistencia tecnia especializada
'Creando oportunidades, rompiendo el ciclo de la probreza'”
Enough Said! I love this – in writing right before the entrance to San Jose publicly stating the facts of this village – 29 benefiting families with access to land and specialized technical assistance. Creating Opportunities and breaking the cycle of poverty – what a mission! Wow – makes me what to have a sign outside of my house stating my family’s goals and mission – what would you write on yours?
Past the sign we looked up the hill to see the members of San Jose greeting us with smiles and warm welcoming faces. They were everywhere - standing next to the school (recently put in by Build On), up on the balcony of the community center peering down, and peaking out from behind their flowers in their homes. The word had gotten out that we had arrived and everyone was ready to greet us.
Moments later we found ourselves in the by now very familiar white plastic chairs in their community center. Armando, the president was the first to speak and gave a short and eloquent welcome. I stared at his face – it was so familiar to me – his eyes and the way he talked and I just didn’t know why. I had never been to San Jose. Perhaps I am on Latin time as it took me until the end of the meeting to realize – oh the video! Armando is in a video taken a few years back! I have, like Isabel, been watching his face over and over for years. It was great to meet him finally.
After dancing and singing and introductions, we proceeded with the full and wonderful remainder of our day. We “worked” in the fields and spend time visiting individual families in their homes to chat and help with chores. I also went with Noe to see some jalapeno pepper plants that were amazing! Just as you described Anne – just perfect.
The highlight for our team was the home visits. We broke up into 4 groups and each went to spend time with families. Each had a chore to work including making tortillas, cooking, and sorting beans.
In Rosa’s home, we talked and sat on their patio around a big table. We sorted beans for a long time helping them to discard those damaged or cut. I think the 4 women in my group could have sorted beans for hours and hours if it meant being able to sit on that patio with Rosa and her family. We heard of their lives before Agros working in Costa Rica as gardeners and in construction and when asked his favorite thing about living in San Jose was, Mario answered with a heartfelt expression of providing for his family. Having a proper structure for his family meant everything to him and having food to provide and a farm that he can pass to his children was such a high value.
This is a very typical response that I have heard countless times in my visits and yet the way he answered blew me away. With tears in my eyes (and many other women on my team) I thanked him for sharing that with us.
The time ended too quickly and we were off to El Tuma again. What a sweet and bold and loving community San Jose is – I hope to return.
We are off to bed so we have energy to debrief tomorrow. What a rich experience.
(May 21, 2014)
Each year, every Agros community undergoes a participatory planning process that involves the community members and Agros staff. Please click on the attached document to view the full community plan for Tierra Nueva. There are many exciting activities and developments that we can't wait to share with you, including plans to build new preschool classrooms, a middle school, and housing for teachers. And thanks to a growing partnership with local government, plans are under way to develop a health center. Without you, this would not be possible. Thank you for your continued support!
As always, you can learn more about Agros International and the amazing people we work with by visiting our website: www.agros.org, or by finding us on Facebook.