POSTCARD FROM HONDURAS
Mark Richt is nearly 1,400 miles away from the Georgia Bulldogs practice field this week, touring impoverished areas of Honduras served by the Christian charity, World Vision International. It is his third visit to Honduras , but the first time any media has accompanied him. This week AJC reporter Steve Hummer will be providing daily postcards as the Bulldogs’ coach views the world beyond the narrow focus of football. Look for an in-depth report on this other side of Richt – one far removed from the gaudy excesses of big-time college football – in Sunday’s AJC.
La Esperanza , Honduras – Tuesday’s wake-up call was a rooster, a persistent pest outside the hotel that began calling in the new day at 4:30 a.m. Its constant crowing kept Richt awake the rest of the morning – making it the second most troublesome gamecock, just behind Steve Spurrier.
Nowhere, it seems, is completely out of range of SEC football. Even Latin America . As Richt sat down to breakfast, a South Carolina man here on another church mission handed the coach his cell phone and said, “Here, talk to my wife; she won’t believe me that Mark Richt is here.”
He wasn’t there long. The day was heavily booked. Richt, his wife and their World Vision traveling party were venturing into the countryside to inspect several of the charity’s projects.
They visited two schools around the small town of Yamaranguila and an assembly in town to jumpstart an election in which children run for a position that will control one percent of the town budget.
Then off to a farm cooperative that has grown through the help of so-called micro-loans from World Vision.
One child at the first stop caught Richt’s attention. Selvin Garcia is a bright 11-year-old boy, small for his age but with an oversized personality. With a handmade scale model of his town, Garcia explained how the charity’s projects had improved life there.
At one point, Richt quietly told the boy in a language he couldn’t understand: “You’re going to be a special young man – with God’s help.”
Through an interpreter, young Selvin later said that he thinks he might have even seen Richt’s Bulldogs play some American football. No interpretation was needed for just how that could be:
“ESPN,” he said clearly.
– Steve Hummer