POSTCARD FROM HONDURAS
Mark Richt was nearly 1,400 miles away from the Georgia Bulldogs’ practice fields this week, touring impoverished areas of Honduras served by the Christian charity organization World Vision International. It was his third visit to Honduras , but the first time any media has accompanied him. This is the last of daily postcards provided by AJC reporter Steve Hummer, who followed Richt and his wife Katharyn to chronicle their trip. Look for an in-depth report on Richt’s journey in Sunday’s AJC.
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Back home where he is somewhat well known for coaching a college football team, Mark Richt is in a position to hang out with some well-fed cats. He schmoozes with big boosters, does endorsement work for such corporate giants as Coke and Ford, is buddies with many of the movers and shakers inside the Gold Dome.
On Wednesday, he met with some capitalists on a little different scale.
The Better Future Community Bank, a project in Gracias, Honduras, seeded by World Vision, allows the poor to take out small loans that traditional banks would never consider. Loans for as little as $20 to begin some minor enterprise that helps feed a family.
On this day, Richt met a woman who took a loan to buy clay and sand with which to fashion pottery for tourists and cookware for locals. Another woman told the story of using a loan to help her launch a tamale-making business. With the profits from her cooking, she fixed up her home and now rents out two rooms.
A young boy said he is saving his lempiras in the community bank in the hopes of one day buying a bicycle.
The scene appealed to Richt’s old-fashioned, “It’s A Wonderful Life” view of how that industry might work. “That was awesome,” he said as he left the meeting. “A bank designed to help a community, just think about that.”
After one last foray into the countryside to hear another plea for a fresh-water project in the village of Portillo, Richt’s tour of World Vision projects in this part of the world was done.
He and his wife, Katharyn, then took the five-hour ride back to the Honduran capital, back to a hotel where hot water was guaranteed, back one step closer to all the modern comforts.
There is a flight back to Atlanta on Friday afternoon, where the other world of high-pressure Saturdays awaits.
– By Steve Hummer