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Four years ago at Lent, Trócaire highlighted the difficulties faced by the small farming community of La Confianza in the Bajo Aguan Valley, Honduras.
You may remember Digna, the face of the Lent 2011 campaign.
Digna and her family faced violent threats and intimidation by army-backed corporate landlords keen to remove them from their farmland. In Honduras, many such families are defenceless against powerful landowners as well as complex and corrupt political and judicial systems.
Digna in 2011 and 2014 by her flower garden. Left image: Jeannie O’Brien; Right image: Aisling Walsh / Trócaire
But with the generous support of the Irish public, Trócaire worked with the community to secure ownership of their land so they could build proper homes and move out of their make-shift plastic tents. We also supported them to get agricultural training to help them grow more and better crops.
In 2011, 227 families of La Confianza secured the purchase of 4000 hectares of land from the government that they are now managing collectively. They cleared the land to grow staple crops and have an income-generating community palm oil cooperative.
Digna is now 10 years old and in fourth class. She says she still remembers the time when she was five and the army entered her community shooting in the air and threatening to kill them. Things are much calmer these days, she attends the newly-opened school, which was built by the community itself, and otherwise she helps her mother with the household chores and looks after her own garden, especially her flowers.
Digna with her family in September 2014. Photo: Aisling Walsh / Trócaire
Digna’s mother is a volunteer health promoter in the community, helping out with health education, malaria prevention programmes and providing medical attention at the local health centre.
Challenges still lie ahead for the community of La Confianza, security continues to be a major concern and they have a significant loan to repay for the purchase of their land.
But their future is a lot more hopeful than it was thanks to the generosity and solidarity of Trócaire supporters.