While visitors to HOI’s Rancho el Paraíso meet residents from all over the Agalta Valley, there are a few faces recognizable to nearly every mission team member that has traveled to Honduras with HOI over the past several years. One of those familiar faces is that of Victor Veliz.
A longtime resident of San Martin born in El Barrereo, Mr. Veliz was one of the few Agalta Valley residents of his age that were born in the area. Like many rural Hondurans, he suffered from diabetes, becoming a double amputee in the early 1990s. However, his most distinguishing characteristic was not his disability, but his deep perseverance. He was often seen moving about the area in his green cart – a type of wheelchair designed to navigate rough and muddy terrain – and mission team members often caught a glimpse of him over 16 kilometers away in San Esteban, a trip that takes about 30 minutes by car. Despite hardships, he was always ready to greet ranch staff and volunteers with a smile.
Every day for years, Mr. Veliz’s grandchildren pushed his cart through a muddy yard and a small river in order to get him to Rancho el Paraíso, where he was fed and cared for by HOI staff. To ease this daily journey, ranch staff built a low-water bridge across the river. A devout Catholic, he loved to join the circle of staff and volunteers around the cross for weekly devotions. Visiting with North American volunteers gave him the socialization he needed, and seeing his persistent determination gave many tired mission team members a gentle reminder of the power of perseverance. Mr. Veliz was deeply loved by the ranch staff and volunteers, and he was appreciative of the care they gave him.
Mr. Veliz passed away last week after a short battle with cancer, leaving behind many loved ones and many memories. Please keep his family and the HOI Honduras staff in your prayers, and take a moment to remember him during your next trip to the ranch. Although his face will no longer be seen at Rancho el Paraíso, he will continue to be an inspiration in overcoming obstacles.