One of the advantages of returning to Honduras as World Renew staff after our initial volunteer stint with World Renew is that I can visit communities that I know very well and see how much they have advanced. I was delighted to see in the village of Guacoca the positive impact of the local savings and credit group on the community.
Savings and credit groups are locally-controlled institutions that operate much like a small credit union. Members contribute shares which become the basis for the loans that they provide to each other. They charge an interest rate much lower than traditional lending sources, and all the interest stays in the community. At the end of the year, 20% of the interest earned goes to a social action fund that contributes to community development projects such as improvements to the cemetery and schools.
Diaconia Nacional invests in a lot of training and mentoring for the community members who facilitate the savings and credit group and often lack basic arithmetic and bookkeeping skills. Zenia, the treasurer of the group, is well known in Guacoca for her dedication and trustworthiness. People know they can go to her if they need a loan, or if there is a community project that needs funding. Zenia dedicates a lot of volunteer time to maintaining the financial records. In the photo above, you'll see her in the white stripes.
When my wife Katie and I were volunteers here from 2008 to 2010, the women who are now involved in the savings and credit group taught Katie how to make “sweated chicken.” This involves a chicken, lots of vinegar, and orange juice, and it is delicious. We have been enjoying that recipe ever since, and teaching it to friends in North America as well.
We learned something important from those women, and I can see that the community has learned some important things because of the work of Diaconia Nacional and World Renew. For me it is really motivating to come back and see how these women and their community have advanced, and how different community institutions are working together to transform the community of Guacoca.
That tasty baked chicken recipe can be found on our blog, mattkatiedekam.blogspot.com. Search “tasty baked chicken”.
World Renew Honduras