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Honduras: The Latin America Field team is sharing the vision (and the workforce)

OR:  How an Austrian with a slight Nicaraguan accent spent 2 weeks at the Dr. Stephen Youngberg Technical Vocational School

After having lived in the wonderful Nicaraguan mountains for 10 months and working on our La Bastilla Technical Agricultural High School, I have had the chance to visit our Honduras project, set in an equally breathtaking surrounding: The Stephen Youngberg Technical Vocational School, as faithful followers of the Honduras blog already know, is a technical school that has been running their programme for about 15 years.

   

When I had just about landed in the beautiful neighbouring country, I was already reminded of the fact that I had over the past months acquired a slight Nicaraguan accent… 

a 7-year old girl living at the nutritional program of our partner organisation Pan-American Health Service corrected my Spanish. I just so happened to neglect an ‘s’ placed in the middle of a word, at which she diligently pointed out that my pronunciation was downright wrong (note for those of you who have never heard a Nicaraguan speak: the letter ‘s’ is basically non-existent if it is placed anywhere that is not the beginning of the word).

 

 

So after little Genesis had thankfully made me aware of my accent, I made my way to the Technical School. The educational centre that has seen many a great talent in woodcarving, carpentry and cabinet making, car mechanics and sewing graduate and lead successful professional lives, has taken on board Teach A Man To Fish’s vision of education that pays for itself and is going to great lengths in order to reach financial self-sufficiency within 3 years.

                                       

The school staff and Pan-American Health Service are about to launch two businesses that complement the already existing production areas: a lube centre (as part of the car mechanics workshop) and a tourism business that sells tours and will serve as Peña Blanca’s first tourist office.  

      

The lube centre construction work has now almost finished, and the team hopes to be able to have their grand opening by the end of June. While the lube centre is a great business opportunity because it will offer services that at the moment can only be found a two-hour’s drive away (in San Pedro Sula), the tourism business is what I was really sent to Honduras for (me being the Tourism Officer at La Bastilla).  And there is enormous potential, both in terms of the natural surroundings that allow a wealth of tours to be organised, but also when it comes to the staff in charge.

                

The Technical School has already opened their little souvenir shop on campus, which will be used for selling the school’s products and will be the tourist information and tour operator: they will offer tours and activities organised by the hotels in the surroundings, and at the same time sell their own tours. The list of activities organised by the Tech School is already a long one (and is most likely to keep on growing): 

you can go tubing on Río Helado (the Spanish word for ‘cold’ – and the water really is refreshing),
hire a bike or a do some horseback riding to the shore of Lake Yojoa, 

 

 

 

   or you can hike up a mountain with the fitting nickname ‘Los Cielitos’ (the little heavens) with a local guide that knows everything about the flora and fauna as well as the landscape that will unfold below you.

 

While you first walk through coffee and maize plantations, once you get about half way up to PAHS’ cabins, you will first of all hit the clouds that usually cover ‘Los Cielitos’ (hence the name, once you are higher than the clouds you get a sight that you might get from heaven.).  

                 

Just to make the experience truly unforgettable, though, it is also possible to spend the night up there
(in the cabins or tents), and you can wake up in ‘heaven’.

  

But  the possibly most exciting (and also the longest) tour is not leading you up a mountain: it is a weekend at the beach – a paradisiacal little spot at the Jeannette Kawas National Park, with white sand and coconuts and mangoes eaten fresh from the tree!

 

 

 

(Yes, it really looks like this at Punta Sal! And yes, I got to go there for work.

 

 

 

To complement the business side, the school will also be adding a Tourist Guide course to their academic offer.

 

 

So you can see, a lot has been happening at the Dr.Stephen Youngberg Technical Vocational School, it looks like growth on all levels and we are excited to see how the businesses will evolve. So should you, and plan a visit to Honduras for your next holidays!

I certainly feel privileged to have been able to see the beauty of Lake Yojoa and Punta Sal as part of my work trip and it was great to share the vision with the team at the Tech School. Watch this space for more updates, as we are soon about to send out a new Field Officer!

 


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