United States/Honduras, 11 September 2023 – Iván and Johanna are among the over 1 million Hondurans living in the United States of America, having left their countries in search of a better life. Despite the distance away from their homeland, both are active contributors of Hondurans Connected, an initiative to engage their diaspora in the sustainable development of vulnerable communities in Honduras through fundraisers for social projects.
"I always wanted to finish my studies, but due to the lack of schools in my community, I decided to migrate,” says Iván Serrano, originally from the municipality of La Labor, in northwestern Honduras. “One morning I got up and, when I was leaving the house, my grandmother, who is like my mother, asked me where I was going, and when I told her about my decision to leave the country, she was very shocked."
At this unique time when the international community faces a confluence of crises and profound global transformations, the 2023 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit in New York (18-19 September) ought to be a moment of truth and reckoning: it is imperative that human mobility is incorporated into the Rescue Plan the UN Secretary-General is urging world leaders to deliver at the Summit.
In Honduras, IOM is reinforcing efforts to advance SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) by engaging the diaspora community and accelerating the journey to the 2030 Agenda by supporting impactful local development initiatives.
Twenty-three years later, Iván has made a name for himself in New York City. He owns various companies in the gastronomy, construction, and shipping sectors from which he has created jobs for other Hondurans who live in the city. But beyond this, Iván’s desire is to support communities in need in his home country.
Johanna Almendarez also migrated to Miami a long time ago, and, like Iván, she has never stopped helping her homeland. Currently, she is the leader of the Honduran diaspora in Miami.
Both are part of the organized Honduran diaspora in the United States, and they carry out fundraising activities for Hondurans Connected, a project supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of Honduras.
For every dollar that the diaspora contributes, IOM provides another and the Honduran government one more, tripling the resources and reinforcing active participation in the sustainable development of the country.
These funds go to four rural communities in Honduras: Chinacla, San Miguelito, Guajiquiro and Juticalpa, where there are immense needs in terms of health, education, water and sanitation services. These communities were chosen because they experience extreme poverty and other forms of vulnerability that force many of their inhabitants to migrate. And the project is already showing some initial results.
Four community infrastructure projects are planned for development thanks to Hondurans Connected. The first one is already underway, and it consists of new classrooms and other facilities for the local school of San Antonio de Guajiquiro, in central Honduras.
On schedule is the building of new classrooms for the Jorge Lobo school in Aguas Preciosas, in the west of the country. Also, the general improvement of the Ramón Rosa preschool in San Miguelito, and a multipurpose room for the community of Linderos in Chinacla, both projects in central Honduras.
“We are happy to finally have an adequate space to prepare food for our children,” says Marlen Corea, a community leader in Guajiquiro, where the first project is underway.
Hondurans Connected shows the power of strategic partnerships for development between the diasporas, national governments, and international organizations like IOM. Currently, four Honduran diasporas in the USA have joined the initiative, in Dallas, Miami, Atlanta and New York.
“IOM is providing technical assistance to the Honduran Government to create ties with the diaspora abroad,” says José Pablo Andino, Project Assistant at IOM Honduras. The organization works closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Social Development to obtain and use the resources in a more organized way.
"We have the privilege of being able to come together and support," says Johanna Almendarez from Miami. Both she and Iván hope that in addition to providing support in social infrastructure, they can strengthen the local economy through sustainable ventures and achieve real changes in these impoverished and marginalized rural communities.
Migration can be a powerful agent of sustainable development, for migrants, their communities of origin and the ones that receive them. As the road towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda hits its midpoint, initiatives, and partnerships like Hondurans Connected show the vital role of migrants in accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.