Honduran Service Members Deliver Food to People Amid Coronavirus Lockdown
By Kay Valle April 15, 2020
About 4,000 elements of the Honduran Armed Forces deliver food to the most vulnerable populations in the country, who are on lockdown as part of the government’s measures to curb the coronavirus spread.
Food distribution efforts, which began on March 25 in Tegucigalpa, will continue in other departments to deliver about 800,000 bags of supplies during the first stage. Authorities expect to reach more than 3 million people in poor areas and in the cities with the most coronavirus cases.
“We are doing everything in our power to save lives,” said Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández in a televised speech. “This includes ensuring that the most vulnerable people have food on their table, so they can be safe, even under the pressure of being quarantined.”
The bags of supplies include, among other foods, rice, sugar, ground coffee, beans, flour, margarine, pasta, and instant chicken soup. They also include a hygiene kit with masks, antiseptic gel with alcohol, soap, toilet paper, and information about the coronavirus.
The Logistics Directorate of the Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff has been carrying out the food delivery plan day and night, executed by elements of the Humanitarian Rescue Unit (UHR, in Spanish), who are highly qualified to confront all kinds of challenges, such as traveling in hard-to-reach areas.
“Some areas can only be reached on foot; our soldiers climb hills carrying the bags,” Air Force Colonel Yuri Chávez, director of the Armed Forces Public Affairs, told Diálogo.
According to Private Luis Miguel Rivas, assigned to the Honduran Army’s UHR that has been distributing food in Tegucigalpa, the blessings that service members receive when delivering supplies are worth the steep hill climbs. “They remain in our hearts and give us the energy to continue delivering food,” Pvt. Rivas told Diálogo.
While Pvt. Rivas, like his military comrades, has left his children and his family behind, he expressed pride in serving the Honduran population and providing support to people in need at a time of crisis. “I remember a special case, in the Los Pinos colony, Tegucigalpa; an elderly woman had eight people under her care. It made me really sad knowing how much need people have,” the soldier said.
According to World Bank data, 60 percent of the 9.2 million Hondurans live in poverty, and in rural areas about one in five Hondurans lives in conditions of extreme poverty.
In addition to food distribution, the Armed Forces have mobilized drinking water tanks to supply Tegucigalpa’s residents, who are undergoing a severe water shortage due to the drought that affected the country in late 2019. Since early April, the Armed Forces have also been manufacturing around 3,000 masks per day, while a team of engineers is working on prototype respirators to equip health centers.