Roatan’s Beauty, Truth & Wisdom
David Dashner, speaks during the Los Sueños opening ceremony.

A Nonprofit Provides Hope and a Chance at Owning a Piece of the Island

An affordable housing community “Los Sueños” in Flowers Bay, has seen the first four families to move into their homes, in early June 2021. There have been several affordable housing communities developed on Roatan in the past. There was Colonia Los Maestros outside of Coxen Hole, and Colonia Santa María in Dixon Cove. Each one of these projects tried to provide affordable housing by using workers funds and benevolent organizations that would breach the affordability gap on an island that is becoming less and less affordable.

In 2004 the Abundant Life foundation was started with the idea to help islanders have a chance at owning their own home in a safe and vibrant community. “It’s not a housing project, it’s a community development,” says David Dashner, the man behind the vision and the project itself.

Dashner owns Grand Roatan, the islands soon to be first five star hotel. “I came not to do resort, but we got involved in philanthropy first,” says Dashner. “We provide sustainability and give an opportunity for an abundant life, for people of Honduras. We do this through three pillars of conservation, education and community development.”

Dashner is not only a businessman, but he is also an idealist with a mission. “It’s not the fact that you have money, it is what you do with it that counts,” says Dashner. “Look at the lives I’ve changed, look at the people I helped.”

It’s not the fact that you have money, it is what you do with it that counts

While Abundant Life Foundation is primarily a Dashner Family Foundation project there are other partners involved. Salvador Foundation out of Colorado Springs committed itself to building 15 homes a year for the next 10 years.

One hundred and eighty families were interviewed for the available homes. In early 2020, right before the government imposed “lock down” there were 15 families on a short list. The lock down brought chaos and doubt. From the 15 families that began the process, only four remained. While the process was long, complicated and frustrating, for the patient families there was a prize worth the effort.

Mari Hernández, a surgery nurse at the Roatan Public Hospital, was one of the four that persevered in the complex process. Her son Fabricio Hernández was fixing his motorcycle in front of their newly purchased home when. “A friend told me about the house program,” said Mari Hernández. The $5,000 dollar loan has to be repaid in 20 years. The houses are valued at $30,000 dollars.

The housing project it’s not only homes. It also includes security, grounds maintenance and home insurance. The homeowners pay a $60 homeowners fee and roughly another $60 for paying off the loan. They are paying around $120 a month in a loan that will allow them to pay the house off in 20 years.

The buildings are compact, rectangular 500 square foot structures made of foam, mesh and sprayed concrete, based on the idea “They will last for many, many years,” says Dashner. “We want to provide them a home their kids can inherit.”

By June 2022, 25 houses were built on the Flowers Bay site. Some of them are duplexes and made out of cement blocks, others are independent wooden homes with views of the sea and Honduran coast.

Dashner says that it costs around $24,000 to build each of the homes. While the houses are not free, they are affordable. They are then sold for $10,000, but with the Convivienda housing providing the $4,000 down payment. The government program provides a grant of 103,000 Lps. paid toward construction of the structure.

The development has a basketball court, a soccer field, a fountain, a playground, a computer center and a green area. The site incorporates a library, a computer center, a daycare center and a cultural center. “We are committed to enhance their culture and to remember their culture,” says David. “It’s important for people to remember where they came from.”

There are paved roads meandering the hilly project site. There is a school and a church, and multiuse buildings. The houses are set on the site purposely and are designed to encourage relationships. “At the center of the community we built a church and a school,” said Dashner.

I am really interested in healing this island.

A pastoral couple was hired to look after the church and community. “As this island develops a lot of things will be lost and forgotten and they shouldn’t be,” says Dashner. “I am really interested in healing this island and the surrounding islands.”

At the front of the property we want to build Roatan’s first public park. By reconnecting them they can work better at solving their own social problems. “It’s 100% a home housing development to provide housing for families that deserve a home on this island, but cannot afford it,” said Dashner. “I want to make sure they have an opportunity to own a piece of their own island while the island grows.” And Roatan is indeed booming.

While by far the biggest, “Los Sueños” is not the only project Abundant Life Foundation has done. The foundation built a school on Saint Helene island and also helped Saint Helena’s 61 ladies in selling artisanal crafts. That program generated $35,000 over the last seven years and the 61 Saint Helena ladies who participated received 90 percent of the sales price.