‘It only took two weeks to go from poverty to absolute homelessness in Honduras and Guatemala‘. (BBC, 2020) Through these few words, we can already feel the catastrophic effects of hurricanes Eta and Iota that devastated Central America in 2020. The natural disaster affected both rural communities and urban neighbourhoods in the two countries – it has resulted in 200 deaths, with dozens missing and thousands of people displaced, as well as the destruction of houses, roads, crops and factories (BBC, 2020).
The existing poverty in both places was also exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Julia in Central America.
Today we are pleased to announce the completion of a project in Honduras, which saw the construction of a house in Merendón for a family of eleven people: a couple with two children and seven grandchildren.
Following the disasters of hurricanes Eta and Iota, Carlos was left without a house after his was completely destroyed. In search of help for his family, he approached the parish of St Vincent de Paul of Merendón. The Congregation of the Mission immediately took action to respond to the needs of the family by starting a new 13 Houses project with the FHA. The project began in November 2021, and encountered some challenges which slowed down its progress. For instance, the Covid-19 pandemic – and the consequent increase in prices – meant that the parish had to mobilize to collect the construction materials required. Another difficulty arose in the transport of materials, given the limited accessibility for vehicles to the construction site. Many of the materials needed to be transported by hand, which lengthened the duration of the project.
The beneficiaries could actively participate in the project by building their own house, and they are now happy to be able to start their lives again. Today Carlos and his wife can cultivate their own land and sell their products in the city to earn a living. The Vincentian brothers also accompany the family with spiritual and psychological support besides providing food parcels when available. You can see here some photos of the different stages of construction and the blessing of the house, which took place at the end of January 2023.
‘The project has made slow progress, but it has been worth it. Seeing the happiness of the family is priceless. One of the lessons I learned from this project is that to work with the poor you need to be patient and understanding, very often the resources are not enough and it takes time to make a project a reality’.
On the notes of hope of this project, we now invite you to reflect on two challenges that we have to face and that Pope Francis has reminded us of: on one side, “reducing climate risks by reducing emissions” and on the other, helping people “to adapt to the changes of the climate“. So, we would like to ask you: ‘How is your community working to respond to climate change? What are the difficulties? What did you do to overcome them?’. You can use these questions as a starting point to initiate action-oriented thinking in your parish and with your contacts. We hope that together, and thanks to your commitment, the 13 Houses Campaign can expand to reach new countries affected by climate change and respond to more people in need.
 Names have been changed due to privacy
 Vatican’s Casino Pio IV, conference 13-14 July 2022