Humberto Márquez, better known as "Don Beto", is 72 years old and lives San José de la Tarrera, a small village 15 kilometres from the city of El Progreso in Honduras. Around 150 people live in Don Beto’s village, along the banks of the Ulúa River - one of the areas worst affected by hurricanes ETA and IOTA in 2020.
“It has been more than a year and the roads that lead to our land and crops are still in disrepair. We now have to walk instead of cycle, making the journey much tougher it takes us much longer to get there. Everyone in the community makes a living from agriculture, but our limited resources are making it increasingly difficult,” Don Beto says.
Don Beto’s Challenges
Don Beto has faced many difficulties in his life, but the 2020 hurricanes have been hard to overcome. His only income is from agriculture, but he lacks the necessary resources to produce stable and quality crops. His children have left Honduras in search of a better life, leaving Don Beto struggling to look after the farm alone.
With employment opportunities limited many have been forced to abandon the village. Don Beto’s family is among them. In 2015 one of his granddaughters left to join the migrant caravans from Honduras to the United States. She joined Don Beto’s daughter who had already started a new life in Mexico. With farming increasingly challenging Don Beto is now relying on their financial support to survive. While he manages to sell crops from his cornfield, the work is becoming increasingly difficult at his age.
Recovery in the area, as in many other parts of the country, has been very slow. Seeing this, GOAL, with the financial support of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), in collaboration with FIPAH (Foundation for Participatory Research with Farmers of Honduras) was able to provide families and communities a helping hand. At the end of 2020, GOAL provided financial assistance to families impacted by the hurricanes. Don Beto was one of the beneficiaries.
“Thanks to GOAL giving us a hand, we were able to start over and buy equipment to start farming our small cornfield again.”
Agricultural tools such as machetes and hoes, as well as urea sacks, corn grains were donated to several families in San José de la Terrera, with ongoing technical assistance also being provided, enabling farmers to grow sustainable crops and support their families.
“We are very happy. Even after helping us last year they did not forget about us. They have given us the tools so we can move forward,” says Don Beto.
The Impact of the Pandemic
In addition to the impact of ETA and IOTA, Don Beto and his wife Maria recently contracted Covid-19. Tragically, access to healthcare in the village is extremely limited and Maria lost her battle with Covid.
“My daughter came home from Mexico for the funeral and stayed for a few months to take care of me. But she must return to her family soon. Once she returns to Mexico, I will be home alone once more,” says Don Beto.
Nevertheless, Don Beto tries to stay optimistic and keeps a smile on his face. Life is difficult but Don Beto is determined to keep going. “Despite my age, I still have the strength to get up every day at 5:00 in the morning, go to my cornfield and be able to work until noon,” he says.
Resilient and Optimistic
“We must move forward, this is the life we have always known. At my age I have seen many things and I can only say and that we are people who can cope with anything and always move forward,” Don Beto says.
“I thank GOAL for helping me in these difficult times – for remembering me this year and donating these tools. I thank God and I ask you to always help those in need. The Lord will always bless you for your good actions.”