By Richard Rourk
A local man is looking to make a lasting difference for strangers in a foreign land.
Unicoi County native Jeremy Wainwright recently sat down with The Erwin Record to discuss his mission work in Honduras.
“In October of last year I went to Honduras for the first time and I served in an area outside the capital city that had high levels of poverty,” Wainwright said. “When I returned to the U.S. I started praying and thinking of ways to help those people in poverty. Many people visit developing nations on mission trips and bring many things to help.”
For Wainwright, the problem is this can hurt as much as it can help.
“The resources run out at some point and many people develop dependency issues because they have not been provided with something that is sustainable and ongoing,” Wainwright said. “Earlier this year, I contacted Honduras local, Agustín Garcia, about starting a tilapia farm to provide a sustainable means of help for the people of Honduras. Through some research and lots of prayer, we decided that a shrimp farm would be more productive.”
According to Wainwright, things moved quickly once Agustin joined the cause.
“We found some property with two ponds that would allow us to raise 200,000 shrimp larvae,” Wainwright said. “The property is in a place called Amapala, Honduras. Amapala is about three hours from Tegucigalpa, which is where Agustín lives. However, he has family that lives in Amapala who are helping us oversee things on a regular basis.”
Wainwright acknowledged that due to the generosity of many, the shrimp farm began to take shape.
“We received the funding to start the process and just days before we were to lease the land, we found out about an even better opportunity,” Wainwright said. “We talked to a man named Ismael Cruz; he has been farming shrimp for 20 years and he has so much experience in shrimp farming, as well as many clients that buy from him each harvest. It was an easy decision to make to lease from him instead of starting on our own. He agreed to lease us one pond on his property.”
Wainwright said that one pond is five acres and much larger than the two ponds the group was originally going to lease.
“We have 650,000 larvae in this pond, more than three times what we were going to have at the original property we were going to lease,” Wainwright said. “The larvae were stocked in the pond on Oct. 4. and I went there on Oct. 22.”
According to Wainwright, the process is exciting to watch.
“It is amazing how fast they grow,” Wainwright said. “Agustín’s cousin Dorian will be helping us as well and he knows the science behind the process, just as Ismael (Cruz) knows the business part of the process. We have a very knowledgeable team and we also have hired one man to feed the shrimp and do maintenance on the ponds, and one man to guard the ponds at night.”
Wainwright acknowledged that the harvest will take place soon.
“We plan to harvest in early January; a cycle takes between 90-100 days from stocking in the ponds until harvest,” Wainwright said. “We plan to sell many of the shrimp onsite at the shrimp farm and we also plan to sell many hundreds of pounds in the city of Tegucigalpa.”
According to Wainwright, you can get about one-third more for the shrimp in the city.
“We plan to have around 9,000 pounds from the harvest; this should yield the reinvestment cost of $8,617 for the next four-month cycle, plus $11,500.”
Wainwright and company plan to build sustainable housing with the money acquired from the shrimp sales.
“With the $11,500 we plan to build homes, provide clean water and feed those in poverty,” Wainwright said.
According to Wainwright, providing clean water is a challenge.
“As far as clean water, we were looking to dig wells for water, but they are very expensive in Honduras (as high as $15,000,) and we did find a water filtration system that costs $100,” Wainwright said. “The filter can last up to five years.”
The water filter is a simple process.
“You just pour any water collected from rain in the top bucket, and it will run through the filter and have clean water in the bottom bucket. We plan to purchase many of these with the funds from the shrimp farm,” Wainwright said. “We also plan to build a feeding shelter in the future as well.
“We are funded for the first cycle, but we are still raising funds to help the shrimp farm be even more successful in the future. We are looking at machines that will peel the shrimp. At this point, we will be selling them whole, but if we have a fast way to process them, we could sell for a much higher price per pound.”
For Wainwright and company the current success is the first step of the plan.
“We also have a long-term goal to raise enough funding to buy our own property one day in the future, instead of leasing it,” Wainwright said. “We were able to buy 650,000 larvae with the funds raised for this cycle and if we raise more funds, we will be able to buy even more larvae the next cycle. I have been going to Honduras at least once a year (usually in October), to see the progress and also to serve with a mission team. But I may go even more frequently as this project grows.”
According to Wainwright, any donation helps the long term success of this farm.
“I would like to thank God for providing every resource we needed to get started,” Wainwright said. “Through Him all things are possible. I also want to thank North Ridge Community Church and my local community of Erwin for being so supportive and generous.”
If anyone is interested in donating or want to have a conversation about any further details, they can contact Wainwright at 388-9356 or email him at [email protected]
Along with donations, Wainwright is asking for prayers.
“I ask for prayers that many lives will be changed by this project,” Wainwright said.