My headlines for Honduras were not like the frightening ones that we often see in the news. My headlines include the beauty of the people I met, the children I grew to know, and the country I experienced. I went to Honduras with a group from Cincinnati, Ohio to spend a week living and helping play and care for the children of El Hogar. Their resilience and love left us with so many smiles and tears.
My headlines include a boy, whose mother was suffering from mental illness, who found a home, care and education at El Hogar, The Home of Love and Hope in Tegucigalpa – and who loved my socks off! And the girl who played soccer with me in the schoolyard of their orphanage, imagining we were bringing Title IX! And sadly learning she’d lost her mom the prior fall. We were privileged to visit her home and meet her father, working hard to support four children on a very small wage. Their home, where as many as six live at a time, is the size of a small bedroom in many of our homes here in the United States.
Outside the school and the capital city of Tegucigalpa, we found genuine relationships in encounters with many other people. We visited a small village, Los Angeles (the Valley of Angels) one day to do some souvenir shopping. I found a small grocery store to buy delicious and Muy Fuerte Honduran coffee. Despite language and culture barriers, people in this grocery and small village quickly got to know me and my fellow travelers. They helped us find just what we were looking for, whether it was coffee, vanilla, beautiful paintings, handmade belts, Santos for one family, etc. They knew the right shapes and sizes, where things were located and helped us meet our needs.
There are beautiful people back home in the US too. We have wealth and an infrastructure of roads and water and electricity. Many of us have jobs and ample food and shelter. At times, I feel we live in hermetically-sealed homes, separated from our neighbors, with video games and Internet and instant-on movies for company. Shopping in US retail stores and online, well, I sometimes yearn for the simplicity of Honduras. Or the best of our local and global retailers. I want you to know me. I don’t need superficial niceties or manipulative sales tactics – just genuinely know me.
I think technology holds the promise to reconnect us versus separate us. With high-speed computing capabilities and predictive and visual analytics, retailers can understand consumers’ wants, needs, and pricing considerations. This customer insight can travel up and down the internet street as quickly as in the village of the Valley of Angels, where we left each shop with friends and smiles and a few well-chosen packages.
So, let’s get this ball rolling…would love to hear your summer vacation stories and how this integrates with our retail business world. What did you do this summer? Any learnings we can apply to retail? How can your personal life inform your business life and vice versa?