06/11/2013 04:41 pm ET Updated Aug 11, 2013

The Weaning of Honduras

I simply refuse to buy into the idea that things are doomed to eternally remain the same (or worse) in Honduras. We have plenty of resources to solve our problems, but we only use a small portion of them. For example, we rely on government leaders and politicians to come up with solutions, and then implement them. But we as citizens and friends of Honduras can do infinitely more and far better. What we lack is a vision based on different attitudes, expectations, and ideas.

In looking to solve the problems of Honduras, we first have to fix the broken institutions of government on which we rely to solve the problems. Or we create new systems to solve the problems. I use the word "systems" rather than "institutions" because I think that just about the last thing Honduras needs are more institutions. Institutions tend to take on a life of their own, and eventually grow to exist for themselves.

Voting, protesting, and revolution are only three ways to bring about change in a society. There is a whole range of stuff in between. Much of it, however, requires a daily commitment by citizens voluntarily working together on common causes. It is the "daily" thing that tends to discourage people because we are all too busy. But if we do not find a way to find the time, then we will continue to lose our country.

All right, I know that the word "vision" is thrown around a lot... it sounds good. So what is the vision for Honduras? It has to start with building a first-rate education system. But this does not necessarily mean building more schools or increasing teacher salaries because these things do not guarantee a first-rate education system. So we either fix the current education institutions or we create new systems.

Running a close second to a first-rate education system in Honduras is ensuring good basic health for all Hondurans, but especially the children, because without good health it is difficult to learn. But forget about building more hospitals, buying modern medical equipment and paying doctors and nurses more. Focus all efforts on clean water and a healthy diet. Health should be sustainable -- water and food.

The third "pillar" of the vision for Honduras is building strong communities, particularly in rural areas. This is probably the most complex of the three pillars. But the basic goal here is to ensure the viability and stability of families and small communities, so that the "fabric" of Honduran society holds better.

Laying out a vision for Honduras without showing how to actually implement it is useless and irresponsible. In all the so-called five-year plans that the government writes up, none of them specify clearly how they will be implemented. What they do provide are budgets. But money is not an implementation process.

The first important step for implementation is to identify models that work and can be emulated. Modeling is a smart first step in the process of implementing the three pillars of development for Honduras because the country does not have the time or financial capital to recreate the wheel... when solutions are already being successfully implemented on smaller scales throughout the country.

Once the models are identified, the next step is to establish relationships with the originators or overseers of those models. Networking with these people and programs leads to the possibility of building partnerships. And it is this partnership building by WE THE PEOPLE that fuels and ignites the changes in Honduran society that we so much like to talk about or expect the government to carry out for us.

The eighth of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals is, "Develop a global partnership for development." Whoever came up with the MDGs was on the right track. Unfortunately, that individual or committee placed partnership building last rather than first. Without mobilizing the citizens (and friends) of a society and getting them to build partnerships with each other, there's little chance of implementing the other development goals.

Establishing working relationships with people and programs in Honduras is the only way to emulate their models for ways to solve the country's problems. This is hard because it requires discipline and a consistent commitment of time and other resources. Time may be the greatest challenge of all. Seems that few have enough time or enough will to make time to get involved in efforts to change Honduras for the better.

One of the things I've discovered about time is that it is elastic. You can stretch it much more than many of us think. If you really want to do something, you can always find the time to do it. So getting involved in something to change Honduras for the better is not solely about finding enough time, but also about how to make that "something" so important to your daily life that it is always on your mind, pushing you to get going.

There is plenty of time in Honduras to change things for the better. The problem is that those who have so much spend so much time protecting what they have accumulated, while those who have a little spend so much time protesting and complaining for more, and those who have none spend so much time just trying to survive.