El Merendón Mountains
La Sierra del Merendón is a beautiful mountain chain that extends on the eastern border of Guatemala and Honduras. Its south-western border is marked by the Lempa River valley, its northern border by the Motagua River valley. The mountain range has several different biomes and habitats, including cloud forests with its highest point at the elevation of 2,400m (7,874 ft).
The main sources of income for the families living in El Merendón Mountains are the coffee plantation and vegetables crops. Even though the farmers pride themselves with the usage of organic techniques for the growth of their coffee and vegetables, their efforts of conserving their environment and producing quality products barely give them enough income to feed their family.
The majority of the communities can only be accessed by four wheel drive vehicles. Their access to health services is very limited and their public education ends with 6th grade.
For several years, CAFE recognized the gloom outlook for the people of El Merendón Mountains and in 2009 started the scholarship program to benefit rural communities of El Perú, Peñitas Arriba, San Antonio, Berlín I, Berlín II, Suyapita , and Las Crucitas I. These communities are benefited in two ways; first, by being selected to receive scholarships from our scholarship program, we educate their children, and second, by choosing the coffee they produce as our ongoing fundraising tool, we stimulate their local economy and increase their margin of profit.
Our commitment is to help Honduran children to fulfill their dreams of education in order to break the poverty cycle that has existed for generations.
Escuela Agrícola Virgen de Suyapa sits at the top of a mountain looking across at valleys and steep mountainous fields. The rocky roads lead up to the first school building consisting of two main classrooms, a computer lab, an office and an equipment room. Each classroom is furnished with a white board and desks. The students eat their meals in an open lunch room next to a community kitchen where students cook their own meals with the crops they harvest. Students who travel from far regions of the mountain stay at the school’s two dormitories on weekdays. The agricultural studies are done in the main and mini-greenhouses. A terrace coffee field that surrounds the school on one side of the mountain, and the vegetable field on the other. With a small open courtyard, the kids play soccer every day as well as other activities during their free time.
El Peru is where our students first enter CAFE’s program by attending 7th and 8th grade. While students gain academic knowledge in science, math, and literature, they also begin learning basic agricultural techniques, such as raising food crops and manage water use. This school has several classrooms for each of the grades and a small cafeteria for recess.
Las Crucitas houses grade 1-6 and children walk from many far parts of mountain to attend each day. Classes are held in one room by one teacher who is salaried by the government. Basic reading and math are taught here, but the lack of division in grades limits the students’ interaction with the teacher.