In Honduras, many communities and neighbourhoods are informal urban settlements, vulnerable to natural disasters such as flooding, landslides, or storms. For many families, the sound of rain falling invokes feelings of anxiety and fear.
Surviving two hurricanes
In 2020, Honduras was struck by two deadly and destructive hurricanes within two weeks of each other. Eta, a category 4 hurricane with winds of 240 kilometres per hour and rains that caused severe flooding and landslides, affected the poorest communities in vulnerable, at-risk areas.
Thirteen days later, while the country was trying to recover from the devastation of Eta, Hurricane Iota struck Honduras. A category 5 hurricane, with winds of up to 260 kmph, caused even more damage to the already affected communities. In total, over 3 million people were estimated to have been affected by the hurricanes.
Gerelita is one of them. The mother-of-four lives in Los Laureles in Santa Rita Municipality, Yoro. Before disaster struck, Gerelita was the proud owner of a small shop. But then, her family experienced the ravages of the hurricanes first-hand, when gusty winds tore off the roof of their home. Gerelita lost everything.
“After the hurricane passed, my husband left us. We had nothing to eat, and I had to ask my neighbours to give us something to feed the children at least once a day,” Gerelita said.
Gerelita was selected as a beneficiary of the Humanitarian Assistance for Food Security project, implemented by GOAL and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Gerelita received seed capital for her business and training in accounting, inventory management, customer service, and supplier management.
Gerelita received these trainings alongside her fourteen-year-old son, Roger. He helps his mother manage her business, as Gerelita does not read or write. “Now we know how much money comes into the business, how much we earn weekly and monthly, and how to get better prices,” Roger said.
Preparing for future crises
GOAL staff also taught Gerelita and Roger how to integrate early warning and response systems into their business, and how to operate a fire extinguisher. These measures mitigate the risks that natural disasters and other emergencies pose to Gerelita’s home, community, and livelihood. Recently, Roger was able to quickly extinguish an electrical fire that broke out in their home while Gerelita was asleep. GOAL also provided Gerelita with sheets of wood and other materials she needed to repair her damaged roof, which leaked every time it rained – protecting her children and her business from the weather.
“Now, we hear the rain falling and feel safe,” adds Roger, with a smile.
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