The UNC-CH students who purchase a four-dollar lunch at Nourish International’s Hunger Lunch hosted on Wednesdays are providing a way for volunteers to teach computer training and agricultural awareness in Honduras this summer.
“The project aims to engage the younger generation in Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmer’s agricultural and community development work, and to facilitate the sharing of the farmer’s research and access to information,” said Anna McCreight, a returning Nourish volunteer.
McCreight and newcomer Sarah Cox are leading a student group of 10 to Honduras this summer through the partnership of UNC-CH’s chapter of Nourish International and the Foundation for Participatory Research with Honduran Farmers (FIPAH).
“I have been looking forward to returning and working with FIPAH ever since I left last summer. The opportunity for a new group of students to come work with and learn from FIPAH is really exciting. This kind of investment in youth and exchange between youth is critical,” said McCreight.
McCreight and Sarah Cox were in charge of interviewing and deciding which students would make up the team to travel to Honduras. They looked for students who were open-minded, self-aware, and shared enthusiasm for the project and the goals of FIPAH.
“We also felt that the volunteers needed to be able to speak Spanish on a more advanced level so that they would be able to communicate with the farmers and workers at FIPAH. There are very few farmers that can speak English,” said Cox.
The trip focuses on farmer food sovereignty and youth engagement. Students will be in Yoro, Intibucá, Atlántida, and San Isidro leading youth workshops in computer and internet literacy, photography and journalism, said McCreight.
“Workshops facilitate the sharing of young farmers’ research and access to information. The intersection of technology and agronomy is important to the youth growing up in a world of hyper-connectivity,” said McCreight.
Food sovereignty is the farmer’s ability to be able to farm for their own family’s consumption. Seeds have become more generic and due to the climate in Honduras there are many crops that cannot be grown. The project aims to help farmers regain food supply and continue the farming tradition.
“Food sovereignty implies a level of autonomy not found in food security. For farmers, the key to that control lies in access to seeds. Possessing a variety of seeds enables farmers to decide for themselves and their communities when and what they grow,” said McCreight.
Another goal of the team is to motivate the younger generation into making agriculture and farming a part of their lives.
“Most of the farmers are much older, and the younger generation is not very interested in farming. We are going to help educate them and incorporate computer use into their training so agriculture isn’t lost in the future generation,” said Fox.
Santiago Beltran, a UNC-CH pre-business administration major , has served as a translator for several religious mission trips in the past, but felt that this opportunity to volunteer was different.
“I have come to realize that world issues such as poverty and hunger cannot be solved through traditional aid in the form of hand outs. The Nourish Honduras trip will work to empower Honduran farmers in collaboration with FIPAH. The program motivates and empowers individuals to reach their full potential,” said Beltran.
The computer workshops and the project initiatives will be funded by the UNC-CH chapter of Nourish International.
According to the Nourish International Web site, “We implement ventures, or small business plans, throughout the year to raise funds. This money is then invested into sustainable development projects in partnership with community based organizations around the world.”
Nourish was founded about seven years ago beginning with the Hunger Lunch on UNC-CH’s campus before expanding into Campus Y as a student organization. It began with the lunches and then spread out into other student-led sustainable development projects in communities abroad, said Katie Cox, a UNC-CH Nourish chapter co-chair.
“In the fall of 2007, Claire Kane-Boychuk proposed a partnership with FIPAH, which arose from her interest in food sovereignty and community-run agricultural initiatives,” said Cox.
Upcoming ventures for Nourish include the Global Music Jam, a world-music dance party to be held at the NightLight on March 19 and the Maple View Challenge, where contestants are told to run a mile, eat a pint of ice cream, and run back. All of the proceeds from these events will go to project costs for Nourish.
“One of the most critical aspects of the project is the training of FIPAH youth to continue leading these workshops after we leave. With this training, the project does not end when the Nourish team leaves,” said McCreight.