San Pedro Sula The calendar surprised me. I hadn’t really visited our offices, organizers, and members in Honduras for almost four years. I had met our organizers other places, Mexico, Ecuador, and Houston, but had not actually been on the ground with them recently to measure the progress being made by the local organizations at the grassroots level. I knew from the reports that we had made surprising strides forward in the recent elections on the local level with several of our members elected as mayors or as delegates to the national Congress, but the real test of ACORN’s work is at the bottom laying the foundation for everything else.
After landing in San Pedro Sula and a short orientation with Suyapa Amador and one of our leaders who had come in from the group in Marcala, we were off to Choloma to meet the newly elected members of the executive board of ACORN Honduras from throughout the country other than from the capital in Tegucigalpa. There were welcomes all around and a reading of parts of the ACORN registration document that has taken years to obtain. If the day had ended there, we would have been disappointed, but we walked not far away for a ribbon cutting to celebrate a recent victory where a concrete drainage system had been built behind one of the member’s house to prevent flooding.
Our next meeting was at an elementary school in Choloma where our members had been fighting to obtain access to water. All the children were assembled to hear from the ACORN leaders. The principal and others described the difficulty in this area of Choloma where there is no access to water in this city of 40,000 that is at the heart of the Honduran maquiladora manufacturing district. We went another kilometer up the mountain where a water catchment area had been built with ACORN’s help. The drainage pipes along the roof to catch the rain were still being assembled. Five rain barrels stood at the ready. To say this was old school is to shame old schools. It is infuriating that families are having to go to these lengths to get water. Hearing our members stories, it was easier to understand why the rainwater system was essential. A barrel of water cost more than $30 USD and was only available every 15 days. Public health workers complained that their jobs entailed nudging area women to bath more regularly and take other health steps for their children, but how could they do so when there was no water. There is no good answer to those questions, but the leaders and Suyapa outlined the campaign.
We were late getting to our next stop at a colonias near La Lima, another city in metro San Pedro Sula, and we traveled back roads through beautiful countryside to get there that included the Choloma city land fill, but when we arrived more than fifty people from the local families were crowded around to meet with us. Many were workers in the banana plantations. They had water and electricity but no title to the land they had squatted years ago even though the law granted them that right after eight years. The community was trying to make a decision about whether to join ACORN in direct actions to finally win the land.
We left near 9pm. The decision would be up to the members, but ACORN would be with them all the way, no matter what they decided.