I’m looking for a good used back hoe. Well not for me. The equipment is for Sister Maria Rosa Leggol and her children. Sister is head of Sociedad Amigos de los Ninos (SAN) in Tegucigalpa Honduras. She runs two orphanages that care for children that have been abandoned or have parents that are incarcerated. She runs a farm for teenage boys to help them learn life and trade skills. She runs a vocational school for girls that helps them complete their GED and teaches them computer, sewing and secretarial skills. She also sponsors a number of micro businesses that employ local help and generate revenue for SAN and its mission. She is known throughout the region as the “Mother Teresa” of Honduras.
Sister and her boys.
I had the opportunity to travel to Honduras about a month ago. A group of us from our church helped refurbish bathrooms, install water tanks to insure a constant supply of clean water, deliver books and school materials for the children and help wherever we could to make life a bit easier for the staff and children.
There are so many needs.
Over 70% of the population of Honduras lives below the poverty line. About 30% of the population is unemployed. The average wage for a worker is only $10 per day. That said the people we met were filled with hope and willing to work to create a better life for themselves and the children they support
The brick factory
One of the ways SAN is teaching the community to fish is by running a brick factory to provide bricks for construction and employment to the local community. Cielos de Honduras is a for-profit enterprise that currently manufactures over 2 million bricks per year. The bricks are used to build houses on Sociedad’s property and also to sell into the local economy. Sister is providing an engine to teach local residents how to fish and provide for themselves.
The manufacturing process is extremely labor intensive. Soil (a mixture of sand and clay) is dug by hand, transported to a central facility and mixed to achieve the desired consistency. The soil is then poured (again by hand) into an auger and mixed with water. The slurry is pressed through a form, cut with piano wire (again by hand) into bricks, placed on a cart and then carried to an area under a shade where the bricks will dry for up to three weeks. (More pics) They are stacked into a kiln, fired for 24 hours and then after they cool are ready for sale.
The price of a finished brick is less than 10 cents each.
A back hoe
The primary bottleneck in the process is the first step. Workers are only able to dig down about 36” due to the hardness of the soil. This means that much more land needs to be purchased to acquire raw material. It is more difficult to stockpile material. The entire process often comes to a halt during the rainy season because it is impossible to get into the fields to dig soil.
A back hoe would enable the workers to dig down 6 – 8 feet and create stockpiles of material that would keep production going year round. The cost of a used one is about $25,000. The team has an excellent work ethic and mechanical skills and a passion to grow the business for their children and their community but they don’t currently have the financial resources to buy a back hoe.
What we need
What we are looking for is a foundation partner that would be willing to provide the funds for SAN to acquire a back hoe. (Picture of a suitable machine) An ideal situation would be working with a foundation at Caterpillar or John Deere to provide internal funding for a dealership in Honduras or here in the states to donate a machine. (I am trying to find a contact) An alternative approach would be to work with a non affiliated foundation or group that would be willing to provide cash funding for us to purchase a used machine that we can transport to SAN.
Potential Tax Savings
Contributions can be directed to Friends of Honduran Children, a 501 c(3) organization (authorization letter). Therefor any contribution or donation of equipment may be eligible for a tax deduction.
Lets create a win/win and help the children!
Sister and her team have an incredible, heartwarming story. I am sure with a bit of positive public relations this will be a win/win for the donor and SAN. Please let me know if you have any ideas for how to get this done.
Until next time – all the best!