The entire Eco-Family spent a week together in sunny –, no wait rainy — no wait- sunny again Honduras at the end of June for EcoLogic’s biennial retreat. We bonded, we learned, and we exchanged ideas. But this was no kumbaya-fest. Our daily meetings consisted of intense sessions on strategic planning, science-based impact assessments, and theories of change. It was intense, it was real, and it was done EcoLogic-style. There is really too much to tell, so I’ll just highlight my favorite moments.
After arriving absurdly late to a quiet hotel in San Pedro Sula, I was ready for bed. Three hours later I find myself in a minibus driving to our projects in the region of Atlántida to see our work in agroforestry, fuel-efficient stoves, watershed management, and tree nurseries. Let me tell you about two of the project sites we visited, which we are implementing with our local partner, the Alliance of Municipalities of Central Atlántida, otherwise known as MAMUCA.
Fuel efficient stoves; hey what can I say? I love these things. We saw several stoves and heard from three different women who own and use them. I was extremely impressed with the maintenance of all the stoves we saw. I asked at one point, “Are these new?” I thought at MOST they might be a few weeks old but nay, I was told that all of the stoves we saw were a year or older. The women have to sand the stoves down every couple of days to keep them in tip top shape. And boy do they shine – I never knew adobe could sparkle. The women form groups of eight and together THEY make a stove for each person in the group. They are trained on how to construct, care for, and use them. The stoves use less fuel-wood, are more sanitary and keep the smoke out of the home. We all know the benefits of a smokeless house but it was NEVER as apparent as when I walked into one of the homes, stove to the right and a teeny tiny infant asleep in an itty bitty hammock not even 3 feet away. The babe was swinging lightly in the breeze and thankfully its little lungs were breathing clean air. It made me feel really good to see the positive difference we are making.
The argoforestry parcel we visited was also pretty impressive. With 40,000 seeds in the ground, the year-old trees (cue music) stood majestically along the hill-side. The trees are there to improve crop yield (here it’s corn), prevent erosion, and decrease the work of the farmers all while attracting wildlife, preventing disease and diminishing the need to encroach upon the surrounding forest. Don Faustino, owner of the land, was enthusiastic about the results and the benefits of guama. The full benefits will not be seen for another 2 years — but, so far, so good and Don Faustino is happy to tell others about his success so they can replicate this work.
Oh, and we had an all-staff soccer game. There is not a lot to say about this except it was DEADLY (in a good way). It was fun, it was a time for bonding, and the temperature was freaking HOT. My team made it to the finals (yaay) but alas, the elusive EcoLogic world cup escaped my team’s grasp.
Let me just end this with an enormous shout out to EcoLogic field staff and tecnicos who work on a day to day basis directly with the people and places we strive to support on the ground. In getting to know the regional staff better I was awed by their passion and dedication. Their expertise is astounding and I’m so proud to be working with them.
– Gina Rindfleisch, Program Officer for EcoLogic
Gina manages EcoLogic’s fundraising activities targeting individual donations. Prior to joining EcoLogic she served for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua working in environmental education and holds a BA in environmental studies from Long Island University.