The need in this part of Latin America is concrete, ubiquitous, and “with you always.” Even before the devastation of recent Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and the political and economic tumult and backlash against Honduras for the difficult stance the country took for democracy, Honduras was classified as “the poorest nation on the mainland of the Americas.” An estimated 80% of the population lives in poverty. With a population of roughly 8 million, the per capita income is $ 830 per year, the un-employment rate is above 40%. From a global comparison, Honduras is on the International Monetary Fund’s short list of the poorest of poor nations on this earth. And the lives of the people in the remote countryside, where we work, fall far below that statistical average for the country as a whole. We at Loma de Luz are here to do what we can to meet this need.
The infant mortality rate for Honduras is reported to be variously between 45 per 1,000 live births to 73 per 1,000 live births. Twenty-one percent of children under age 5 are malnourished; there are 133 cases of tuberculosis per 1,000 people, and HIV infection is a skyrocketing catastrophe.
Under the best of travel conditions, the nearest government public hospital requires nearly a day of travel for the people in this region. During the rainy season, when travel is restricted because of flooding and high rivers through which vehicles must travel, the government hospital may simply be inaccessible. Even if one reaches that hospital, chronic shortages of personnel and supplies make the effort a gamble, and “extra” expenses such as food, lodging, medicines, and materials, makes this care prohibitive for our people. From a physical perspective it boils down to this: with the simple “wear and tear” diseases of life, Hondurans in the countryside are likely to suffer without relief. From an injury, such as a broken arm or burn, they are likely to be crippled. From a simple emergency, such as appendicitis, an obstetric complication, or a serious trauma, they are likely to die. We at Loma de Luz are here to do what we can to meet this need.
Although 95% of the population are considered to be Roman Catholic by census data, it is extremely unlikely that most of the population surrounding Loma de Luz will have read or heard even the most basic precepts of the Christian faith. Three-quarters of the population are functionally illiterate, and there is only one priest per 22,400 Roman Catholics in Honduras. Particularly on the North Coast, voodoo and pagan beliefs and practices are pervasive and intermingled with “religion.” From a spiritual perspective, it boils down to this: a Honduran in Colón is likely to live his or her entire life and die without knowing Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We at Loma de Luz are here to do what we can to meet this need.