Milk & Honey Missions, a Woodbury-based nonprofit organization, began with one church trip to an orphanage in Villa San Antonio, Honduras in the 1990s. This trip sparked a desire to aid others and bring love, hope and vitality to a community in need.
Shelly Rice, a board member since 2016, traveled to Honduras for the first time in 2013. That unforgettable trip convinced her and many others to go back every year since, to visit the children they had met in the orphanage. Due to government-related issues and lack of funds, the orphanage was eventually shut down. But Rice refused to believe this was the end of her relationship with the community. “We fell in love with the children, the village and the country. We were heartbroken. We still felt connected to Villa San Antonio,” Rice says.
The church group continued to go back to Honduras but felt the loss of the orphanage, so Rice and her fellow travelers decided to make a change that would affect this small Honduran community in a big way. In 2011, Milk & Honey Missions was created to make life-altering change for many people living in Villa San Antonio.
“Some of us were sitting in a courtyard in Villa San Antonio on New Year’s Day 2010 when we decided that we could do more,” Rice says. “Our church friends [in Honduras] had willing volunteers, and we thought we could gather the financial resources to help support their efforts.”
Although Milk & Honey’s members are able to use their funds and privilege to help, they say they’re totally guided by the Honduran community at every step of the way. “We truly try to work alongside of them to address the needs of their community. Partnering across culture, distance and language can be a challenge, but we manage to do a lot of good work,” Rice says.
Some of the projects they work on aim to improve the lives of local children, so they can thrive and flourish as they grow. The group has provided feeding centers, so the children can receive nutritious meals in an area of poverty. They’ve also helped build the village’s first library, the aptly named Casa de Conocimiento (“House of Knowledge”). The space lets students access resources such as books, computers, tutoring and special courses. They also offer scholarships for older students to attend both high school and universities.
Milk & Honey strongly focuses on the health and wellbeing of the community. They’ve helped create a medical clinic that offers services for free. They also install water filtration systems in homes so families can have access to clean drinking water.
Courtesy of Milk & Honey Missions
“In our U.S. political climate, of demonizing immigrants and ‘caravans’ from Central America, it has been an amazing opportunity to connect with Honduran citizens who are courageously facing the challenges of their community. We are so proud and honored to know them and to work with them,” Rice says.