Florida Couple Lures Hope with Fishing Villages in Honduras
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Aug. 04, 2016) A Florida couple has combined their compassion for the poor with their love for the sea to help fishermen in the coastal community of Puerto Cortes, Honduras. They are transforming lives through the international relief and development organization Food For The Poor.
Peter and Sandy Swift, married for more than 53 years, learned about Food For The Poor from a pamphlet they received more than a decade ago. In 2014, when the organization expanded its fishing villages program to Latin America, the dedicated donors decided to fund the first fishing project to be established by the charity in Honduras, which they visited for the first time this year.
"Our trip to Honduras to see the results of the village was wonderful. The fishermen and their families treated us fantastically. They are a hard working group, who took the time to take us out on the boats and to share with us a super fish dinner," said Sandy Swift. "We were most impressed with how the project turned out and how well it is being managed. We also had the opportunity to visit other Food For The Poor projects in Honduras. It was an experience that will never be forgotten."
For generations, fishing has been the primary source of income for many of the families in the region. But rickety wooden boats and makeshift equipment were threatening the fishermen's livelihoods and the health of their children, whose primary source of protein is fish. With hopes of a more lucrative catch, the fishermen fell into the rut of renting bigger boats and spending more of their already-limited income, making it very difficult to support their families.
Food For The Poor's fishing village program supplies destitute coastal villages with fiberglass boats with outboard engines, global positioning systems, fishing tackle, 100-quart coolers and safety equipment. The fishermen also get a gear shed with a freezer, a generator and a powerful solar-powered street light for the village common area, as well as training in deep-sea fishing. Each team of fishermen is required to donate a portion of their catch to organizations within their own communities that help orphans, the elderly and the sick.
Food For The Poor has 16 fishing villages in operation in Jamaica, 42 in Haiti, and now there are 11 of these fishing villages in Honduras.
"Giving back to one's community is the right thing to do, everyone benefits. The Coopespcol Fishing Village in Puerto Cortes, which was the first for us in Honduras, is serving as a marvelous model," said Robin Mahfood, President/CEO of Food For The Poor. "Thanks to the support of our donors, such as the Swifts, we are literally teaching men how to fish. Instead of catching fingerlings from the reef, they now are reeling in robust deep-sea fish from the Caribbean. This program will feed countless families for many years to come."
The Coopespcol Fishing Village is located near a high traffic road close to the border of Guatemala, where Guatemalan families regularly cross into Honduras to buy the catch of the day. After learning of this, the Swifts decided Puerto Cortes needed a fish market, which they funded and filled with large freezers. The cooperative is doing so well that these fishermen have been invited to provide training to other fishing villages.
The Swifts also have committed to funding a second fishing village, this time in Tela, which is located 33 miles east of Puerto Cortes. The boats have been ordered and the Cuero y Salado Fishing Village is expected to be fully operational in the fall.
"We are so thrilled with these fishing projects and with everyone involved. Food For The Poor's wonderful work in the Caribbean and in Honduras is motivational and we are excited to have this opportunity to be a part of it," said Sandy.
Before setting their sights on Tampa, the retired business couple who are originally from Ohio and Massachusetts, lived on a house boat in the Caribbean for several years. Peter and Sandy have two sons and five grandchildren.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.
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