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  • Erick Brimen

Cleaning Up Communities in Roatan

Up to now, this blog has been primarily an outlet for my intellectual curiosities and pursuits. However, I plan to also start sprinkling in some “travel blog” style posts as well. I travel often, and I’m looking forward to having an outlet in which to commemorate my travails.

In that spirit, I’d like to share my recent trip to Roatan, Honduras. Roatan is one of my favorite travel destinations and I always look forward to spending time on the beautiful island.

However, I wanted to get away from the usual tourist haunts and explore the “real” Roatan. I wanted to interact with true locals who have been on the island for generations and get a real feel for their culture, personalities, and to better understand their lived experience. Further, I wanted to see for myself how some of the recipients of the I4E’s Empowerment Funding are doing since the initial investment into them was made.

So, when I got to Roatan, I rented a car and one of the first dirt roads I could find! I ended up traversing some rather rough terrain before stumbling upon a wonderful old fishing village full of locals who had lived in Roatan for decades and generations.

I arrived at the community’s central plaza and was almost immediately approached by some intrepid young children who reside in the community. After speaking with them for a moment, I approached some of the other community members loitering in the plaza, eager to learn more about this little slice of paradise I had stumbled upon.

I was quite hungry at the time, and so I walked along the beach to the only restaurant in the village, Gina’s Café, which also happens to be one of the first recipients of the I4E’s Empowerment Funding Program that I’ve mentioned previously. The Café looked splendid, mere feet from the idyllic blue Caribbean waters:

After catching up with Virginia for a bit, I joined a few of the villagers for one of the best tasting meals I’ve had on the island thus far.

We spoke for some time about the history and future of the village. I was interested to discover just how hopeful and optimistic these people are for a brighter, more prosperous future. It is my hope that I can continue to play a role, however small, in improving the prospects of these wonderful Roatanians.

In the course of the conversation, I learned that community cleanup was to occur in a few days’ time. I immediately recognized this as an opportunity to help the village in my own small way and asked if I could participate. However, I quickly began to realize that there was an even larger opportunity here: by getting the I4E involved, we could have a larger impact than just cleaning up. I called my close friend and I4E Leader Tristan Monterrosso to discuss my ideas with him. I will go into more detail about the program we implemented for the community cleanup in a separate post soon.

Thus, after a few moments discussion, it was settled: I would participate in the community cleanup along with the I4E.

In the intervening few days between the event and this meeting of the minds, I caught up with a few friends and acquaintances around the island. Before I knew it, Cleanup day was here.

I arrived to find over 70% of the village’s total population eager and waiting to get involved!

Rather than attempt to verbally explain the beautiful community coordination and participation I saw, I will show you in the slideshow below:

I find myself at a loss for words in trying to describe the experience. I can only thank the community members for making me feel so welcome and giving me the opportunity to participate in their community day. It was one of the most meaningful moments of the last year for me.

I can’t wait to see what other sorts of experiences like this I can have as I continue to work to improve local communities like this!

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