Shoulder to Shoulder (StoS) has been working in rural Honduras for over 20 years, partnering with local communities to reduce poverty through programs in health, education and nutrition. Its mission began in the Intibucá region of Honduras, which is seen as the “frontier” by Hondurans given its remote location and lower living standards.
Why this area? Over half the population of Honduras lives below the national poverty line, earning less than $2,600/year. One third of workers are unemployed. In rural areas, the statistics are worse. Many people live in a continuous survival mode, leaving them unable to adequately feed and educate their children. This cycle of poverty very often continues from generation to generation. Therefore, StoS’s model of service combines health care, nutrition, dental health, and educational opportunities in order to create lasting change.
From the very beginning, StoS was looking for a true partnership where volunteers from the United States and local community members would stand “shoulder to shoulder.” After many visits to villages in this region, the town of Santa Lucia was selected as the home base of StoS in 1991, and it officially became an NGO in Honduras in 1996. From this humble beginning, the scope of services and the number of people StoS serves have grown substantially – all through the hard work and tireless efforts of volunteers in the United States and in Honduras.
Yet, StoS’s mission – to serve the poor through close community partnerships – has never changed. In 2011 alone, StoS clinics completed 47,954 patient visits in rural Honduras, including 2,277 visits to families’ homes. Just under 400 babies were safely born in our clinics’ maternity units, and 132 students were able to continue past the sixth grade thanks to our scholarship program and supporters throughout the United States!