Friday, February 14, 2014

The Rich and The Poor

The terrific organizer of the our next group also happened to own a group of private schools in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. He talked us into adding their group to our tour so even though we planned to stay in Panama for three days, we got on that plane to Tegucigalpa, Honduras and landed safely on the 2nd most dangerous airport runway in the world. The airport is right in the middle of the city. It looked as though we were going to land in a residential neighborhood!  On the way down we flew directly over the new Tegucigalpa Mormon Temple! We took a closer look from the ground:

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Our hotel was one of the most beautiful, newly renovated Intercontinental Hotels the world. Because it was new, beautiful young people poured into the hotel for lunch while we were waiting for our car.The food was pretty incredible-looking!

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The venue was simply spectacular! There is a mountain that rises up out of Tegucigalpa. Curve after curve we wound our way up 1000 feet to the very top where we walked into a gorgeous room with the audience was enjoying food and relaxing on cushy couches. A fireplace was flanked by two lovely chairs.

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The atmosphere was electric as we greeted the guests that included several representatives from American schools and other private schools as well as friends and relatives of members of the organization. Three of the wives were daughters of former Presidents of Honduras. With only one five year term allowed, it makes for a lot of ex-presidents!  These are families of privilege who have grown up with a lot of money and have been given stellar educations. No hint of pride or superiority! Our hosts were positively delightful!

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One problem: Most of the attendees drive bullet proof cars and have bodyguards for their children. They have to protect their property because the reality is that these people are a tiny percentage of the 8 million people who live in Honduras. Here is the assessment of their economic situation that I found online:

“The Republic of Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America. It is a lower middle-income country with persistent poverty and inequality challenges and a per-capita income of about US$1,880 in 2010. Although the government has achieved a degree of economic stability since 2000, progress has not resulted in improved living conditions or reduced poverty for the country’s huge proportion of poor people. It ranks 121 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme’s 2011 Human Development Index – a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide. 

The country’s population of approximately 8 million people is divided evenly between urban and rural areas. However, poverty is essentially a rural problem. Poverty in the country affects 60 per cent of the population, while 36 per cent live under extreme poverty conditions. In rural areas, these figures rise to 63 per cent and 50 per cent respectively.”

Crime is rampant. Our driver was a government official who said that in one way she can’t blame people for taking what they can from the rich. The rich have so much of what most of the population so desperately needs. The average education of people outside of the big cities is the third grade.

The fascinating part is that we happened to be there during a Catholic celebration of the Virgin Mary which takes place every February. As we drove through at least a hundred roadside stalls set up to sell their wares outside their beautiful Basilica during the celebration, people looked happy. Loving life!

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What an education! This trip was a magnificent learning experience. It’s one thing to read about these countries and entirely another thing to be there experiencing things first hand,  Loved being in this country as well as the other countries we’ve visited and the great people we met!

We had a nice view of the temple as we bid this country goodbye from the airport:

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We headed back to Panama for one more night and then, we must admit that we’ll be glad to get home. There are always some challenges to a trip like this:  In the rest room at our very first event, I was flossing my teeth since they had just fed us lunch (my teeth tend to capture food and not let it go) and one of my teeth fell out! It was a crown….luckily not a front tooth since I have crowns on almost every tooth. It was a challenge to keep sticking it back in for the next 12 days but it went pretty well. LOL! 

And even though we slept in 8 different beds in 12 days, they were all good beds! Loved it!

1 comment:

Daniel Efosa Uyi said...

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Daniel.