COVID-19 in Honduras: Gladis’ story

Gladis is a leader in her community, studying her degree in pedagogy through the distance education system at the National Autonomous University of Siguatepeque in Honduras. She started her own business and is helping her community to join grow their businesses in the new context of COVID-19 supported through CARE’s PROLEMPA Project.

My name is Gladis Cabrera, I am 23 years old and I live with my mother in the center of Rio Grande, an indigenous community of 130 families in the Valle de Azacualpa, Intibucá. In this region, people are dedicated to agriculture and the production of handicrafts.

My mother has always grown beans, corn and in some cases vegetables. My father emigrated to the United States 12 years ago and he works digging trenches and burying electrical wiring to pay for my studies and those of my 7 brothers. My dad's work is heavy, really exhausting, he has to walk almost all day and squats drilling holes and digging earth. He turned 57 and wants to return because he is very tired, he has spent too much time away.

I am almost finished my studies and I decided to start a business to earn money and help my family and other women in the community. That is how the artisan weaving company “Lu Copi Copi” was born. We started 4 years ago producing Lencas fabrics and, thanks to the CARE/PROLEMPA support, we managed to hire 8 women, and make more than 50 types of souvenirs. Our salary varies according to the product we are making, but it has become our main income.

Through the PROLEMPA project I also received a diploma as a tourism manager, and they supported us with seed capital to invest on our own. After 4 years we are happy to have our own space, and we also bought raw materials to continue working in the company. As a tourism manager, and with the help of PROLEMPA, we began to develop the project in the community. Here we have a waterfall that is 120 meters long, the highest waterfall in Honduras. The idea is to make a tourist destination to economically develop our community.

Staying at home has greatly affected our economy

Everything has been complicated in the last months, since the Coronavirus started we have not even been able to sell our products. It has been two months without anyone visiting us. Fifteen days ago, we were hired to make a batch of 500 masks. All of my colleagues were very happy to be working, but now we have no way to get them to their destination because the streets are blocked. We are concerned that when we are able to get there, the masks will no longer be needed. We have invested all our material in the masks and we need that income for salaries and to buy cloth again to continue working.

It is really difficult to pay people. A month ago my colleagues spent their savings. Most have returned to work cleaning farms, they are hired once a week and receive only L. 100 lps ($ 4.00), which is their only income during quarantine.

I have also returned to work on my mother's farm. My father has not been able to send money because he is in confinement and cannot work. Staying at home has greatly affected our economy.

Masks made by Gladis and members of the artisan weaving company “Lu Copi Copi” produced

We live isolated, hungry and we have lost contact with the community

In my community, families are quite large. Women have between 6 and 12 children, the more children they have, the less access to food they have and they live in greater poverty. These people make a living cleaning cornfields and some go to nearby cities to work during the day and send money to their families, but things are changing very quickly. All of these people have returned to their homes and lost their source of income.

Some families support themselves with potato, bean and corn crops, but on a very limited scale. Many people are losing the rice and corn crops because they cannot keep track of it, they cannot buy what they need, so at the end of the day, people do not have a harvest.

There are also families that can plant in their yards, but they do not cultivate because there are no seeds available, so they have to buy corn and beans to eat, they cannot produce anything.

The poorest families are locked up in their houses to protect themselves from the coronavirus, but they are suffering from hunger. Their main sustenance is corn but they no longer have it. In Rio Grande there is no more food. The grocery stores are empty because they closed all the entrances and they are not letting the trucks pass for supplies.

We live isolated, hungry and we have lost contact with the community.

CARE is working with communities around the world to save lives and help stop the spread of COVID-19. We are building on our past experience responding to outbreaks of infectious disease in vulnerable communities—all while focusing on women and girls as we know that they are disproportionately affected by emergencies. We are continuing our work to end inequality and alleviate poverty, but adapting our projects to meet the current challenges of COVID-19.

CARE's PROLEMPA project is no exception. In order to support the emerging needs of its participants facing the consequences of the pandemic in the country, CARE and its partners are adapting the project design to be able to respond to the crisis.

You can help people like Gladis and communities in Honduras by supporting CARE’s PROLEMPA project, in partnership with CESO, SOCODEVI, TechnoServe and SAJE Montreal Centre and funded by the Government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada. PROLEMPA is working to improve opportunities for women, youth and marginalized people living in poverty to increase their financial well-being as small business owners and farmers in Honduras’ Dry Corridor.