We have decided to focus on rural participants because:
- They are the poorest segment of Honduran society, often living on less than $1 per day
- They have the least access to resources to improve their conditions
- Work ethic and sacrifice are a normal part of their life
- They are the most likely to take full advantage of an opportunity like the Moses Project
To initiate the Moses Project, we have (or will):
- Purchased a small farm of 12 acres and set up a small shop facility on the farm
- Obtain rental accommodations to house the students and a vehicle for transportation
- Select 8 students who have completed Grade 6 from 4 rural communities to join the program each year.
- Provide scholarships to these students
- At the end of the 3-year program, select up to 4 graduates to whom we will provide micro-financing so they can set up their own business
The program consists of 3 distinct, yet inter-related components.
- Each morning, the participants are involved in working on the farm and participating in training sessions that focus on rural development. More information below on this.
- Each afternoon the participants attend trade school to obtain nationally recognized certificates in practical employable skills such as carpentry, block laying, welding, etc. In the past, these courses were normally given in 3 month segments by INFOP (National trade school), whereas now we are presenting year long courses via ETAOO (Western Honduras trade school).
- Each evening, the participants attend public school. Again, the Department of Education has granted fantastic collaboration for our participants. We will still have to provide uniforms and supplies similar to all the other students.
The training is done in collaboration with existing Honduran institutions so that we avoid duplicating infrastructure by utilizing education and training facilities that already operate in Santa Rosa de Copán.
Education: Government mandated education stops at Grade 6. Most rural students have no access to junior high school because these schools do not exist in their villages. More significantly, rural students start dropping out of school after Grade 1 because their families see no value in education when they see no opportunity for using it to improve their lives. For their academic education, the students in the Moses Project attend a local public school that grants the normal diplomas for grade 9 and grade 12 (Honduran equivalents), but is designed for students who normally work during the day.
Rural Development Training: The farm is key to the Moses Project because it provides space for a variety of rural development training. We use the farm to provide training in critical rural development issues such as:
Proper water sources and protection br>
Community hygiene br>
Alternative energy sources such as solar energy br>
Economic & nutritional value of market gardening
A significant part of the training will focus on water since our experience over the past 5 years has been that a significant portion of illness among rural inhabitants comes from water borne diseases. Wells, when dug, are often shallow and near sources of contamination. With proper depth and casing, wells can change the health of an entire community. We have been collaborating with the Department of Health and a neighboring municipality to install wells in communities over the past 3 years and will build on that experience with this project.
With some beautiful exceptions, small farms in rural areas are typically disorganized and predominantly planted in corn and beans – two staples of the Honduran diet. Unfortunately, existence on corn and beans alone contributes to health problems due to a lack of diverse nutrients and leaves almost no money in their pockets due to the low economic value of these products. Planting only corn and beans year after year also strips the soil of the same ingredients, making each subsequent crop less productive than the one before.
The students learn both the nutritional and economic values of planting vegetables and other crops that generate a significant return on investment. That return can be used to purchase necessities such as school supplies, shoes and other basics we take for granted.