Coffee Farmer Gonzales displaying coffee beans on one of his trees.
La Esperanza in the Department (state) of Intibuca is a city in Western Honduras, bordering El Salvador. The area economy is agricultural in nature and depends primarily upon growth and sales of potatoes. The terrain is mountainous with high altitude, ideally suited for growing coffee. It is located in the Opalaca Coffee Region, one of six coffee growing regions in Honduras. The Opalaca Coffee Region is characterized as producing specialty coffee with “delicate flavor of tropical fruits”. Finca Gonzalez (Gonzalez farm) is located in the village of La Sorto, within 30 minutes of La Esperanza and grows coffee as do surrounding farms with a growing season between November and February. Jose Gonzalez left San Pedro Sula as a young teen and came to the United States. He was cared for by The Children’s Center, Inc. but later returned to Honduras where he has developed a bus service in La Esparanza and a coffee farm in nearby La Sorta.
The Children’s Center’s representatives have spent time with the Gonzalez family at their farm in Honduras. There are labor shortages on farms during coffee harvesting season. Many of the youth leave the area for other opportunities. Farmers must seek temporary laborers, at times from other countries, to harvest their crops. Discussion with the Gonzalez family is focused on poor employment conditions in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa and the utilization of at-risk youth in the growing and production of coffee. The Gonzalez family is committed to supporting youth in a pilot transitional program that would provide housing, employment and support creating opportunities for independent living. There is potential for employment on many of the surrounding farms in the proposed project area.
Gonzales Coffee Farm
The proposed program would include provision of lodging, food, personal care, home and community activities to establish quality of life. It would involve assessing life skills and providing mentoring in life skill development, work training, money management and savings for independent living. The intent is to create a pilot project that will be replicated on other farms to help support youth interested and willing in these options as an alternative to poverty and the danger of life on the streets of San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and other cities, often leading to perilous immigration to the United States.