Brenda Dachner – My ‘Why Roatán’

How/when did you first visit/hear about Roatán?

At the invitation of a friend, David and I first visited Roatán in 2006.  It seemed so far away, foreign and exotic.  I remember making flight arrangements connecting through cities I couldn’t pronounce, like “Tegucigalpa”.

What was it that drew you in to the island?

We arrived in the middle of rainy season, not even realizing there was one.  But rain or not, we immediately fell in love with the beauty, charm, and laid-back pace of the island.  We bought a small place, seeing an opportunity to get away from the rat race in the U.S.  We believe in giving back wherever we’re planted.  We were already heavily involved in our non-profit in the States, and it wasn’t long before it expanded to include endeavors in Roatán. 

What motivates you on a daily basis to continue these efforts for Roatán?

Education was the first and most obvious area where we could help.  There is no shortage of need and opportunity!  We began providing school supplies and backpacks, providing tuition assistance for some exceptional kids to attend the better private schools, and simply sitting and reading with kids after classes. 

What is one story that captures your “Why” behind Roatán?

In 2009, a friend suggested we visit a Community School in Coxen Hole known for its positive results but still in need of help. It was there we met Darla Pandy.  Darla was teaching in Coxen Hole, Roatán but was from nearby St. Helene.  As she toured us through the school she told us about the need for a school building in her community of St. Helene.  That got my attention!  Once we left, I jabbed David in the ribs and said “Did you hear what she said?!  There’s a community that doesn’t have a school building!”  We were immediately moved to see how/if we could help this community.

Once in St. Helene, we did find a school; a dirt floor school with bamboo walls and a tarp ceiling.   You can read about the building of the Helene School here.  This was the beginning of our formal involvement in the Bay Islands.  Once Darla and her family gave us the “island hospitality” and we met the people, we were hooked! And that’s how Roatán chose us.  We weren’t looking for a place to become “missionaries.”  We were simply living our life and were drawn in by people like Darla Pandy, and so many others!

What do you see for the future of ALF and Roatán?

The more we’ve come to know and love the people of Roatán, the more passionate we’ve become about helping them. We believe education is critical to the people of Roatán, and for the future of the Bay Islands.  School in Honduras is only required through the 6th grade; it is a rare and motivated student who surpasses the minimum, overcomes the obstacles including poverty and cultural biases, and completes a high school education. 

The Abundant Life Foundation is searching for new opportunities to partner with communities to build schools, while we continue to support existing schools and students and provide scholarships for higher education. By increasing the level of quality education as well as the graduation and upper education rates, more business and thought leadership on the island will emerge, in turn bringing greater revenue and breaking the cycle of poverty for Roatán’s citizens.

The Abundant Life Foundation is dedicated to raising up the future leaders of Roatán.  Won’t you help us?  Please explore our education initiatives and donate now! A private endowment funds all ALF administrative costs; 100% of all donations are passed through to ALF programs.

Brenda Dachner

October 2017

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