“A community’s richest resource is its people,” says Bestalina Martínez, Executive Director of the Municipalities of the Central Atlántida Department (MAMUCA), a community organization in northern Honduras that EcoLogic has worked with since 2007.
MAMUCA is an association that brings together towns and communities from across Atlántida, Honduras, to work toward reducing poverty and improving local livelihoods while conserving the environment. “If we don’t protect our natural resources, then we destroy our quality of life,” she says emphatically. Bestalina understands that people cannot thrive without helping the Earth to thrive as well—and under her leadership, MAMUCA and EcoLogic have brought that value of interconnectedness to all of our collaborative projects.
Together, EcoLogic and MAMUCA are pioneering initiatives that have already had tangible impacts on community members’ lives.
Through one of our joint projects, we are constructing and installing fuel-efficient stoves in family homes, which have reduced the use of fuel wood and decreased health problems connected to inhaling particulate matter while cooking. Women, who do most of the cooking and therefore receive the most benefit from using the stoves, are also being trained to build and install them—and are paid for the work.
“I’ve seen women who, at the beginning, were so timid they would barely leave their homes,” Bestalina reflects. “But they started building stoves, and the transformation has been incredible. The light in their eyes when they talk about their experiences! They didn’t have anything before. Now they are providing for their families.”
One of the most unique programs that MAMUCA has launched under Bestalina’s leadership are “shops” where community members can trade recyclable materials for food, household items, or school supplies. The organization has built two in the last year, and already has plans to open a third. The second store is located in a school, and, as Bestalina explains: “Children don’t have money, but they can bring in a plastic bag and trade it for a pencil or a notebook. With the recycling shops, we can even involve children in making change in their communities!”
MAMUCA launched its first recycling shop in 2013, after winning EcoLogic’s first-ever Innovation Award competition, which we organized in an effort to generate community-led innovation. This prize was to be awarded to one of EcoLogic’s partner organizations to fund the implementation of a sustainable, scalable solution for reducing environmental impacts while creating economic opportunities.
“We couldn’t do the work that we do without EcoLogic. I couldn’t do my job without the support of EcoLogic,” Bestalina says. “Thanks to EcoLogic’s support, we have been able to meet the needs of so many more communities, so many more people, than we would ever be able to alone. EcoLogic is an incredible ally to MAMUCA, in helping us confront the human and environmental problems that our work is dedicated to resolving.”
She continues, “I love working with MAMUCA, because I love to serve people. What makes me happier than anything is seeing not just the results of a project, but the positive change in people’s lives,” she says.
“If you start with just one person, and inspire them to make change, then they will inspire their family. And if you change a family, you inspire a community. If you change a community, you change a city—and from there, you inspire an entire country to change for the better.”
Help EcoLogic give local leaders like Bestalina the resources they need to turn big ideas—like MAMUCA’s “recycling shops”—into projects that have the power to transform rural people’s lives and protect critical ecosystems for generations to come. Make a gift today.
Bestalina’s story was originally featured in our 2013-2014 annual report. Read the full report online here!
Want more stories like this? Sign up for EcoLogic eNews today and get updates delivered right to your inbox.