THE HOI DIFFERENCE
There are many organizations both in the U.S. and abroad addressing a wide variety of needs in diverse ways, including operating mission trips to countries like Honduras and Nicaragua. With a multitude of agencies to choose from, it can be overwhelming to make a decision on who to support and how.
While there have been increased scrutiny and criticism of short-term missions in recent years, HOI has proven through our 25-year history to be responsible, respectful and effective. Here, we share some commonly asked questions and what sets HOI apart.
HOW IS HOI’S WORK DIFFERENT FROM OTHER MISSION ORGANIZATIONS?
HOI is not primarily a relief organization (i.e. an organization that provides assistance after natural disasters). Instead, we work long-term in communities, empowering them to reach their full potential, and use short-term volunteer mission trip teams to accomplish long-range goals. HOI has a rich history in communities of Central America using an integrated approach that includes education, medical care, agriculture, facility construction and spiritual development. By investing in communities over decades, we strive to see permanent and total transformation.
WHY GO ON A MISSION TRIP WITH HOI? WHY NOT JUST GIVE MONEY TO A CHARITY?
While we value and greatly appreciate financial gifts, we believe that the gift of presence is uniquely transformational. Through their time together, mission trip volunteers and residents build mutually enriching relationships, impacting both North and Central Americans in powerful ways.
We encourage volunteers and teams to continue engaging with our work in Honduras and Nicaragua by partnering with us financially following their trips. To donate, please click here.
HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT THE PROJECTS AND PROGRAMS ARE RELEVANT, EFFECTIVE AND SUSTAINABLE?
At HOI, we believe that each community should direct its own development. Every community has different needs and in most cases, residents have a much better understanding of these needs than those on the outside. To ensure that our ministries in both Honduras and Nicaragua are relevant and will have a long-term impact, we pursue programs and projects based on local community leaders’ requests and invitation. This process also helps to organize and train local leadership in decision making, which is critical for the sustainability and well being of future generations.
IS HOI SENSITIVE TO THE LOCAL CULTURE AND WAY OF LIFE?
While HOI includes a handful of U.S.-based staff, the majority of our employees (60+ staff) are Central Americans, including our Honduras country director. Our Central American staff works with residents year-round, building relationships with villagers in each community and ensuring that HOI respects and embraces the local way of the life. While short-term missions are often characterized by imbalanced relationships that lack consideration for the host culture, HOI is proactive in including local stakeholders in making critical decisions.
DOES THE WORK OF SHORT-TERM VOLUNTEERS TAKE AWAY JOBS FROM LOCAL RESIDENTS?
The majority of residents in our areas of influence are involved in subsistence farming in order to feed their families. As a result, the construction of projects such as latrines, chimneys, etc. is completed not by specialized workers but by homeowners. HOI’s short-term volunteers work under the supervision of and side-by-side with these residents and their communities in order to accomplish these projects. In addition to supplementing labor and providing necessary materials, HOI gives residents the opportunity to invest time and labor into their homes, engendering a rightful sense of pride and ownership.
It is our goal to create and support opportunities for Hondurans and Nicaraguans to provide for themselves and their families. To do this and to protect the dignity of these communities, we do not do for them what they can do for themselves unless it is within the context of a mutually agreed upon partnership. HOI has created over 60 jobs at Rancho el Paraíso and has supported the creation of many more through our economic development programs.
DOES HOI’S PRESENCE CREATE A SENSE OF DEPENDENCY?
Our model is based on a healthy partnership between communities and HOI staff and volunteers. Instead of fostering dependency, we desire to empower the people of developing nations by focusing on their strengths and abilities. Because we prioritize protecting the dignity of these communities, we work with rather than for them. For this reason, we require that local residents make an investment of time and labor. Whether it is digging a hole for a latrine in anticipation of a service team or preparing soil before receiving agricultural training, residents take ownership of their own communities through their work in conjunction with HOI.