Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Story of a Peace Corps Volunteer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The Story of a Peace Corps Volunteer

Article excerpt

Byline: Leo and Reagan Alonso

Reagan and I met in the fall of 1981, in a Peace Corps training group for Honduras.

I had a biology degree and she had one in nutrition.

My Peace Corps mission was called rural development and was all encompassing while Reagan was more focused on teaching nutrition at a secondary school level.

The town of San Jose de Las Palmas in the department of Copan where I lived and worked for two years was an idyllic fertile valley.

The population was 1,200, no electricity, but it had running water.

I taught hygiene and nutrition at the only primary school.

I introduced new vegetable seeds, and we planted gardens with the children.

I formed a peanut cooperative with the women to boost income.

Most importantly, I was able to obtain U.S. Agency for International Development monies and engineering support to build a ford over the river that would flood every rainy season.

The villagers initially built their own ford using local boulders and cement without any technical knowledge.

Sure enough after the first floods it was utterly destroyed.


I documented this, and took the village leader to the capital, Tegucigalpa, to convince the Agency for International Development to support us. It was approved, and a structurally well engineered ford was built within a year.

Reagan was teaching originally in Olanchito near the Atlantic coast, and contracted dengue fever.

She had to be medically evacuated, and after recovering she was reassigned to a cooler, drier inland town of Comayagua.

It would take us 10-hour bus rides to meet because of the poor road infrastructure. A rainstorm destroyed a large bridge needed to access the relatively remote village I lived in.

To reach me, or for me to reach her, we got on a large basket, suspended high over the ravine, on cables. …

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