Located in the corridor from South America to Mexico and the United States, Honduras is a transit country for everything from illicit drugs to human trafficking and mass migration.
Honduras’s history since Spanish colonisation in the 16th century is marked by military coups and counter-coups.
Racked by violence and corruption, gang rule and inequality, it is one of the most unstable countries in a volatile region, with recent widespread drought creating further hardship for locals and leading to ever-increasing numbers travelling across borders—most headed north for Mexico and the United States.
Almost half the population lives in poverty, and around 17 per cent of Hondurans live in extreme poverty (less than US$1.90 per day). Honduras has the second-highest extreme poverty rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, after Haiti. The country is also afflicted by one of the worst rates of inequality in the world, with a stark division between rich and poor.
Remittances (money sent home by expatriates) make up a significant part of the nation’s economy and many families are dependent on this source of income. Small-scale farming, the backbone of the nation’s agricultural economy, is collapsing; many rural communities are no longer able to sustain themselves due to drought and changing rainfall patterns.
In 2017, President Juan Orlando Hernandez was the first president in Honduras’s history to run for re-election, after the Supreme Court lifted a constitutional ban on presidents serving more than one term. He won, in a result that was widely questioned by international observers and met with protests across the country. More than 20 people were killed in subsequent riots.
Meanwhile, Honduran children living in poverty face many challenges, with malnutrition and insecurity foremost among them. They are particularly vulnerable to the threat posed by gang activity, with many boys coerced into joining and girls threatened with rape and forced labour. As meeting their basic needs becomes more difficult, some see gang life as the only alternative to starving or risking their lives on the road to the United States border.
Yet local churches across the country are working hard to nurture and protect these vulnerable children, to ensure they have the safety and space to grow and develop and experience a hope more powerful than poverty.