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University of Arizona Volunteer Group Trip to Honduras
United Planet Construction Quest
Country: Honduras | City: El Canton | Project: Construction
Duration: 2 weeks | Group: 9 Students from University of Arizona
"The most rewarding part for me was interacting with the community. Waving and saying “hola” to everyone was the best part of my day, besides digging trenches. The local children of El Canton and El Jute were my favorite as they listened and answered questions about their lives, never feeling sorry for themselves. All they want is a real soccer ball and books to read. I will never forget those boys waiting around in the same clothes every day, with their bikes, and broken sandals."
--Camile Sabino, Volunteer from University of Arizona
Camile Sabino, a business student from University of Arizona, shared her thoughts on her volunteer trip to Honduras in May of 2008. She recalls the incredible people she met; both from her school as well as the local community they visited. Here are some of her stories and reflections on the trip.
Instead of going to Mission Beach, Las Vegas, or other typical break destinations, I ventured a non-profit organization, led by empowered students who volunteer with hands on work. They construct clean water systems and educate the community on how to maintain them through sustainability. So I thought, why not go volunteer and immerse myself in the Spanish language. Little did I know what I was getting into…
Nine of us UA students went from two domestic airports and two international airports to find ourselves in Honduras! We spent the next couple days working in the community of El Canton and surrounding villages, which are about three and a half hours from the capital. Deep in the Honduran hills, with no signs of city life anywhere, we hopped in the back of pick-up trucks and drove through vibrant green hills and blue skies. Small homes scattered among the land with families waving as we drove by and children playing soccer, their favorite past time.
We arrive at the water source contaminated with thriving insects and no barriers to protect it from larger animals poisoning it. Water is the most basic necessity to healthy living and this water was not safe to drink. And this is why we came here, to fix this problem and provide the community with clean water.
I thought I was athletic prior to working in the hills, but this showed how out of shape I am. Not only did we have to climb up treacherous, large hills, but we had to build trenches through them! The only trenches I had heard of was from the book, All Was Quiet on the Western Front, and those did not sound fun. These trenches had to be in straight lines, thigh deep and about two feet wide. For three days I became very familiar with a pickax and a shovel.
It was grueling, hard, and the most fulfilling task I have ever done. My hands hurt so much it felt like I had arthritis. I could not bear to walk up any more hills or try to maneuver my way down safely. By the third day, my whole body ached and we had little water during our hike. I tried to save as much as I could, but the dry heat made me thirst for water. And yet, the men in the community drank from the contaminated water source to avoid their own dehydration, while we complained that we had little clean water for only two hours. Here machines do the work that we did with our own hands and what the community does daily. I have the utmost respect for the men for enduring hard labor and being exposed to unhealthy conditions.
The most rewarding part for me was interacting with the community. Waving and saying “hola” to everyone was the best part of my day, besides digging trenches. The local children of El Canton and El Jute were my favorite as they listened and answered questions about their lives, never feeling sorry for themselves. All they want is a real soccer ball and books to read. I will never forget those boys waiting around in the same clothes every day, with their bikes, and broken sandals.
They have so little but their spirits are high and they were so friendly to us American students. I look at pictures every day and smile at memories created with not only my peers at the UA, but with other Universities and staff. In that short week we all grew to love Honduras and still want more! After participating, I still cannot find appropriate words to explain it. It was life changing, but that does not suffice as a proper description of my feelings. I was right, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, it was more than I ever expected.