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NMSU’s Aggies Without Limits build bridge, waterway in Honduras

Following three weeks and more than 4,000 combined work hours mixing and pouring concrete, cutting and treating wooden planks, the community of El Guanabano, Honduras, now has a bridge and water management system.

This past summer, more than 20 Aggies Without Limits members traveled to Honduras in Central America. For three weeks, the group composed of mostly New Mexico State University students, worked endlessly to achieve its goal.

“The project this year was to rehabilitate a bridge that was destroyed by hurricanes,” said Hugo Sanchez Maqueda, former AWL president. “We’re also making a waterway to guide rainwater into the stream and make it easier for people to get to the bridge.”

El Guanabano is located outside Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. For more than a decade, this community has waited for its government to fix a pedestrian bridge used by hundreds of people every day. Rising water due to rain make passing through the area difficult. To get to the stream, community members must first hike down a steep and dangerous trail.

“Our prayers have finally been answered,” said Sarai Flores, a community member of El Guanabano. “For years politicians have told us they will help our community, but once they are in power, they forget about us.”

Community members say that water levels can reach five feet or higher and have washed away people attempting to cross.

“The problem is that a lot of people need to cross that area every day just to make a living or get to class,” said Misael Sierra, a paster in the community of El Guanabano. “Little children, elders and everyone in between need to cross that creek.”

In spring 2022, the AWL advance team visited the project site to survey the area and begin the planning process.

“Work for projects begins months in advance,” said Emilia Mandujano, current AWL president and project manager. “We also need to make sure the area where our members are going to stay for three weeks is safe.”

During the first trip, members must also figure out where they are going to sleep and what they’re going to eat. This year, a church called Casa de Diamantes (House of Diamonds) hosted AWL members all three weeks.

“The food was so delicious and gave us the energy to keep going,” said Kenny Stevens, NMSU professor and AWL adviser. “In previous trips, we only ate rice and beans. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But this time around we even got a menu.”

Aside from having diverse meals, there are several things unique to this year’s project. First, a student from New Mexico Highlands University joined AWL to help with the project. The group also had support from a retired Peace Corps member who had spent time in Honduras in previous years.

Additionally, NMSU’s Educators Rising student group donated school supplies for children who attend school at the Casa de Diamantes church.

Lastly, a videographer followed AWL around for all three weeks of the project to produce a documentary about the group’s work and the community of El Guanabano. The documentary is set to premier in March 2023. The College of Engineering will make announcements as the release date approaches.

“We thank God for sending Aggies Without Limits our way,” Sierra said. “It’s truly a blessing from God. These young people travel hundreds of miles just to help other people.”

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