hoping in the sand


Miriam Marivel Campos Perez, a thirty-year-old mother, and her six-year-old daughter Maria live in Cuyamel, not far from the city of San Pedro Sula in the north of Honduras. Their village is built around a life of fishing and farming. The small village is often victim to flooding. 

Cuyamel used to be one hundred meters away from the sea; however, as a result of a massive earthquake in 2009, the    seabed has sunken by 60 cm, and this, combined with rising sea levels caused by climate change, means the  village is now prone to devastating flooding. ‘I have maybe a few months left in my home,’ says Miriam. ‘We are hardly living there these days because every time there is bad weather we have to evacuate.’ When the floods come the alert is sounded and the villagers have little time to get ready as the water comes very fast. 

In school, six-year-old Maria learns the traffic light system. Green means everything is ok. Orange means the weather is starting to turn and they must start to get ready for the floods. Red means they must run fast as the water is coming. Mother and daughter grab hold of each other and run. 

Maria says that she shouts ‘let’s go, let’s go’ to her mother because she is so afraid. They must run fast as the water brings with it timber and other debris; if you are hit you could get badly hurt. On returning home, flooding is another trauma. ‘It’s really sad when I come back and see how my house looks. I want to run away and never return. The sea brings sand and is full of garbage that gets washed here.’ The family spends days cleaning their home, which is now damp and mouldy. Miriam says that her daughter has nowhere to play as the land is filled with debris and rubbish. It also gets covered in salt, so people can’t grow food.

Trócaire, through local partners, is supporting Miriam, Maria, and their community by supporting the emergency response teams. We are creating safe routes for people to move quickly away when the flood is coming. Together we are providing food, shelter and training for local people.

                                                 (Courtesy of Trocaire's Lenten Campaign Material 2017)


With Maria in Cuyamel, Honduras (November 2016)


Last November I had the chance to visit Honduras with Trocaire to see some of the work that is done in that country. As part of our visit, we met with Miriam and her family, including Maria (with me in photo) and it made it very real for me.  Truth told though, I could walk away from the reality - that’s not an option for Miriam, Maria and those   living in this village.  Neither is it an option for Trocaire, whose workers are so committed to supporting this community and many other needs that present themselves, not just in Honduras but throughout the world.  Trocaire literally means “Mercy” and it was clear to me that mercy is at the heart of all work done in our name by the staff and associates of Trocaire.

Sharing a journey and sharing vision - Trocaire supports this Youth Group

We visited many of Trocaire's work sites and met with a wide variety of people over our days in Honduras. Groups varied from a Youth Club where boys and girls learn to be respectful and appreciative of one another.  Violence against women is a major problem in Honduras and, in this initiative Trocaire (and its partner agency) offers a way to help boys and girls grow in awareness of each other, learn from one another and journey together, as equals.  It was clear to us all that the work is having a positive effect.  The young people and their leaders spoke movingly about how much this club means to them.  We met a group of women who are farming as a co-operative and, once again, Trocaire's presence and support were clearly evident and acknowledged.  There was a Community Group that is trying to claim back rights to a local river - rights that have been taken over by a large company.  One of Trocaire's partner agencies, with Trocaire's support, is offering assistance and guidance to this group.

"On the one road" because there's only one road.

The village where Miriam and Maria live is accessible only by one road.  We travelled this road for many hours and the conditions were treacherous.  The village (as mentioned above) is by the edge of the ocean. In another setting, the location could be classed as idyllic but not here because the homes are too close to the ocean and the buildings are of a very poor standard.  When the ocean rises and winds become storms, these homes and their occupants stand no chance.  Here Trocaire is involved in the development of a man made canal that will allow people escape via the river since the one road, we had travelled, quickly becomes impassable.

Flowers of hope on the edge of the ocean

Holiday album material as you look to the sea

A family's home - a stone's throw from the shoreline

There is a photo that remains with me, it's of Maria playing "X+0's" with Alexis (one of Trocaire's Team in Honduras).  As I watched, I could see that Alexis was doing all he could to let her win.  I couldn't help but wish that she would - not just the game in the sand, that would be washed away in the next visit of the tides, but in life and for life.

Apart from memories of people and places we visited, I think my abiding memory is the dedication of Trocaire to the people in its care.  I had a real sense of very good people wanting to make a difference in very difficult and challenging situations.  It struck me that the Trocaire Staff we met were well grounded people, focused and committed.  I could not help but think they could have chosen easier paths in life, 9-5 jobs (not that they don't have their challenges too) where coming home in the evening meant switching off and relaxing.  My real sense of Trocaire is that "switching off" isn't an option but that readiness to be with people is the driving force.

For some more photos and an overview of the visit with Trocaire to Honduras, please click here

For some more photos and a few thoughts around Trocaire's work in Honduras please click here 

My name is Vincent Sherlock, a priest of the Diocese of Achonry and Diocesan Communications Officer.  I had the opportunity to visit Hounduras last November and am pleased to be able to share here and through the links given some of the stories and people we met along the way.  I hope that this year's Lenten Campaign in the diocese will assist Trocaire's work and with Fr Gerry Davey (Trocaire Rep for our Diocese) encourage your support in whatever form it may take.

Trocaire's website is www.trocaire.org 

God Bless the work.  God bless the world.

Trocaire Visitation Group with Bishop Michael Lenihan, Bishop of La Ceiba, Honduras