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Hermandad (non-profit)

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Hermandad Inc. was a not-for-profit (NGO) organization that worked in Central America and the Dominican Republic. It integrated into Healing Waters.



A backronym for Hermandad was "Helping Reach Many through Direct Assistance in Development".

Founded in the U.S. and incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1975 by James McTaggart, HElping Reach MANy through Direct Assistance in Development (AKA Hermandad which means brotherhood/sisterhood in Spanish) Inc. was a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian, apolitical, voluntary community-development agency—tax-exempt under section 501 (c) 3 of the IRS code. It conducted community-development programs first in Honduras, southern Guatemala, and then in the Dominican Republic's southwestern region from 1985 to 2019.

James McTaggart[edit]

Before founding Hermandad, James McTaggart was a Franciscan priest who served at a parish for two years, in Nueva Ocotepeque, Honduras in the early 1960s. [1]After separating from his order he served as Chair of the Community Leadership and development Department at Springfield College (Massachusetts). During that timenfive students and two faculty members spent their Christmas hlidays in the Republic of Honduras laying the groundwork for future international cooperation.[2] Mr. McTaggart was also an international consultant of the International Division of the YMCA USA. In 1975, he founded Hermandad and served as chairman for many years. In 1977, the U.S. mission in Honduras granted Hermandad funding to build a community-development training center in San Marcos de Octopeque that was completed in 1980.

Maria del Pinar Mancenido[edit]

One fo the first board members and project supervisor-assessor was Maria del Pilar Mancenido, or Madre Pilar as she was known, an Argentinean expert in cooperatives, leadership training, and community development. Before joining Hermandad, she had worked for twenty years in Central America and the Caribbean. She was a member of the Consejo Technica del Instituto Technico de Integracion para America Latina (Technical Council of the Latin American Technical Institute of Cooperative Integration). This was the technical arm of the International Cooperative Alliance. Madre Pilar, a Paulist nun and superior of a convent in El Salvador besides performing other activities, organized the DOMUS consumer cooperative in El Salvador. Consisting of 15 retail stores throughout El Salvador, this cooperative had consumer items at low prices.

John McTaggart[edit]

James McTaggart's brother, John McTaggart, was a board member and later served as president. John McTaggart was an executive with Harper and Row Publishers, in New York City.

George Gerardi[edit]

George Gerardi, was an attorney with a degree in International law with lengthy experience in the development field. He had served as Program Liaison Officer and inside legal counsel to TechnoServe from 1975 to 1978. He was also a member of the CODEL (an acronym for Coordination in Development) Committee on Environment and Development, which sponsored workshops on the theme of Environmental Aspects of Small Scale Development Projects in Central America and the Dominincan Republic. This U.S. Agency for International Development USAID supported Committee assisted in the publication of booklets on agriculture, water resources, forestry and other development related subjects.

Christine Garofalo[edit]

Christine Garofalo, the first Executive Director of Hermandad, was a magna cum laude graduate of Springfield College, with a degree in Community Leadership and development. She served as Executive Director from the inception of the organization until 1984 and pioneered the program in San Marcos for many years. Christine and her fellow volunteers organized activities that collected monetary contributions and also donated clothing that was sent to Honduras for local women to use and sell. American dollars went a long way in helping the poor in Honduras.[3] Long Island was a very important nexus of raising funds and awareness. Catholic parishes through Societies of St. Vincent played a very important role. For example, in 1984, Long Island Catholic churches began what became the annual World Gratitude Day, establishing partnerships between sister-parishes: "Thirty-three Vincentian conferences throughout Long island agreed to 'twin' with the Vincentian conference in San José de Ocoa in the Dominican Republic.[4] In 1977, Hermandad obtained a $73,000 grant from the USAID and by 1980 completed construction of the community-development training center in San Marcos de Octopeque. The center served about 1,500 of the poorest Hondurans, teaching them leadership-training, cooperative formation and operation, small-scale industry and agricultural development, fish farming, fruit trees and village electrification. Hermandad also received an $83,000 grant from CODEL (Coordination in Development, a spin-off from Catholic Relief Services).[5]

Hermandad in Central America[edit]

On 26 October 1980, during the inauguration ceremony of the Hermandad Center, CEDEN received a recognition award for its people's hard work and collaboration with Hermandad. CEDEN and Hermandad coordinated in the presentation of a Leadership Training Course for local cooperative officers and managers. The two agencies also worked together on a latrine construction project for some barrios in San Marcos. The two agencies also collaborated to obtain assistance for the inhabitants of Belen Gualco during a serious epidemic that was killing many people.

In February 1978 using USAID grant funds for capital construction, community contributions and its own resources, Hermandad completed the construction of Phase I of its Rural Leadership Training Center.

Hermandad in the Dominican Republic[edit]

In February 1984, using its experience in Honduras, a Hermandad needs-assessment team went to the southwestern region of the Dominican Republic, visited several villages west of San Jose de Ocoa, consulted with local people and local organizations, and chose a string of mountainous villages in need of water-resource development and agricultural assistance. Soon, Hermandad learned that many community organizations had failed because of farmers' individualism, unscrupulous leaders' activities, and other factors. Existing organizations used paternalistic, dependency-creating perspectives, causing local people to feel alienated. Moreover, long before that, big timber had caused widespread destruction: "The mountains of the Dominican Republic were first harvested by American and Canadian lumber interests, who used clear-cutting tactics to gather all of the trees, while doing nothing to replenish the forests they were hauling off to the north."

In February 1985, Hermandad hired Alberto Munera as its country director in the Dominincan Republic. Munera, a native Columbian had headed up Catholic Relief's country program in Brazil and later in Chile. He began to organize a staff of Dominicans to assist in planning and organizing a program to assist the villages in need of help. During 1985 and 1986, Hermandad grew and matured as an organization. In January 1986, two hundred poor families of farmers in the remote village of El Cercado saw potable water flow in their community for the first time, through a potable water system that Hermandad and community members planned and constructed. The system consisted of an aqueduct carrying water from the mountain springs by PVC piping, to a newly constructed 8,000-gallon communal holding tank and then to tapstands near each home.

Typical Hermandad Stone Tank

The plan provided that excess water was used for farm irrigation, and in the fall, the first harvest of a community tomato project was taken to market. In addition, in the community of Los Tramojos, Hermandad and villagers built a second major drinking water and irrigation project that included a 54,000-gallon tank supplying drinking water to 800 people as well as irrigation water for their small farms. In Los Tramojos, Hermandad also encouraged families to plant home gardens and installed individual tap stands and 100 latrines with the help of the Peace Corps and the Ministry of Public Health.

On 4 September 1987, by Governmental Decree #459-87, Hermandad was legally registered in the Dominican Republic.

In the early 1990s Hermandad partnered with Al Campo, Inc., an alliance of twelve communities where Hermandad had worked and jointly implemented a wide-reaching integrated rural-development program supported by various national and international institutions. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations World Food Program, the National Office of Planning (ONAPLAN) of the government of the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Peace Corps, the government of Japan and Sara Lee,

Hermandad and the communities built several more water systems: in Los Carozos, in Mancebo,Los Negros, Rancho Del Pini and several other communities. A feature of these projects was the installation of piping from the holding tanks to individual homes, esch having a tapstand

Typical water tapstand used in developing countries

where water was available for cooking and washing wuth an overflow being diverted to the home gardens planted by families. Latrines were a component of each villlage project. Another system of aqueducts and a communal holding tank connected to another major irrigation project between Mancebo and El Cercado. This water system included several kilometers of pipe and three additional water storage tanks. This water system enabled farmers to increase their income by 300 percent via a commercial tomato, onion, and pepper project

During this time Hermandad and the communities completed projects including:

  • The all-purpose water projects in the communities of Los Tramojos, Los Negros, and Los Limones with a combined population exceeding 1000 persons
  • The construction of 102 latrines in 12 communities
  • An educational program geared toward promoting sustainable agricultural practices
  • Planting more than 25,000 fruit trees to provide community members with a steady income base
  • Reforestation with more than 40,000 trees of various species
  • Construction of the 1,200 square foot mutipurpose Al Campo office/community center/ emergencu refuge
  • A water system in the community of Hatillo with nearly 100,000 gallons of storage capacity, 150 individual tapstands and more than 20 kilometers of pipeline
  • A water system in the communities of El Montazo and Arroyo Hondo to provide potable water to over 350 persons
  • The establishment of community demonstration plots involving organic agricultural methods, soil conservation, and cooperative community management in twelve communities
  • A program introducing the planting of "green manures" for wide spread use in the recovery of degraded soils, cover cropping for soil conservation, and to increase crop-yield through association with common crops
  • The construction of 100 latrines with over 500 beneficiaries
  • Improvements to thirty houses
  • Ongoing training in health, sanitation, agriculture, and forestry[6]

In addition, Hermandad helped about twenty villages to complete twelve aqueducts and seven irrigation systems of 627,000 gallon capacity, 35 kilometers of pipe, and 21 public and 250 family faucet stands, for a total cost of approximately $200,000. Hermandad provided assistance in 150 community farming projects involving about 600 farmers and other non-profit organizations.

To strengthen its function as a catalyst among local community organizations in the U.S. and abroad, Hermandad sent its officials and representatives to speak to the members of American corporations, churches and community organizations in order to inspire them to help. In 1998, Hermandad's Chairman of the Board, George Gerardi, spoke to the members of the Bay Ridge United Church, in Brooklyn, New York. Two of the church members inspired by Hermandad's work were Robert E. Adamski, a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and his wife Janet who became increasingly more involved and procured a truck for the local Hermandad counterpart, Al Campo, in the Dominican Republic from the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Bob & Janet Adamski with Truck from PCUSA

[7]Three years later Robert became a member of Hermandad's Board of Directors, prompting George Gerardi to say, "Bob's appointment comes at a time when Hermandad begins involvement in Haiti and his enthusiasm and expertise will be a valuable addition to the Board."

As an engineer and NYC Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner, Adamski went to the Dominican Republic in the fall of 1998, after Hurricane George had struck. The hurrican had destroyed the electricity grid, and debilitated further one of the poorest regions in the Americas. Most roads were washed out, and children were getting water for drinking from drainage ditches. That was when Adamski realized the importance of water tanks. As a result, after returning to the U.S., Adamski spoke at the Water Environment Federation Water Environment Federation Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.[8] The following year, Adamski received The Hermandad International Award for his work in the Dominican Republic after Hurricane George.

After Hurricane George had devastated the Dominican Republic in 1998, working with the USAID, Hermandad launched several emergency reconstruction projects that "benefited over 10,000 residents in 16 communities, ranging from the isolated mountain community of La Vereda to the periurban barrios of Saona and Bani. Hermandad also trained local health-promotors, established 13 Community Re-hydration Stations that treated diarrhea in young children, constructed or rebuilt water systems in 11 communities, and installed 450 sanitary latrines. Hermandad not only saved lives, but also eased the burden on public sector institutions such as INAPA and SESPAS.[9]

In 2019, Hermandad which originally planned to continue to provide assistance to rural farmers ended its work and merged its efforts in support of a sister organization working in water, sanitation and health, Healing Waters International, a non-profit Christian organization with extensive operations in Central America, South America, Africa, and Asia.

Hermandad de Honduras continues to operate in several villages near San Pedro Sula in micro-lending in support of low income individuals and businesses.


  2. "Christmas in Honduras for SC Group," Springfield College The Student, December 18,1974
  3. Maria Basile, "One Person Can make a Difference," The Long Island Catholic, 12 June 1980
  4. Nancy Dwyer,Vincepaul "Twins" to Develop Self-Help Project in Dominican Republic," The Long island Catholic, 27 September 1984
  5. Nancy Dwyaer, "Hermandad Program Provides Self-Help for Hondurans," Long Island Catholic, 25 June 1981
  6. Manhasset Press, 6 August 1998
  7. The Church Herald, March 2000
  8. The Earth Times, 25 September 2000
  9. Latin Long Island, /december 2001

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