Cumberland Times-News

September 13, 2008

Schreib helped farmers improve crop production

Allegany High grad spends over 2 years with Peace Corps in Honduras

Jennifer Raley

CUMBERLAND — After spending 26 months with no electricity in the mountains of Honduras, Peace Corps volunteer Rich Schreib is back home in Cumberland becoming acclimated to having modern conveniences again.

Schreib, a graduate of Allegany High School, decided to join the Peace Corps during his senior year at Virginia Tech.

“I wanted to travel, learn another language, do a good thing and basically have an adventure,” said Schreib. “I graduated in May, and four weeks later I was in Honduras.”

Schreib, who earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental policy and planning, was assigned to the small village of Mata De Platano to help farmers improve their crop production while still protecting the El Chile National Park and Biological Reserve that borders the village. He introduced the farmers to crop diversification, watershed protection and soil conservation.

“Most of the farmers were very receptive — they live off the land and they know it’s important to protect it,” said Schreib.

While in the village, he lived in adobe houses with Honduran families and became fluent in Spanish. The nearest Peace Corps volunteer was stationed in a village two hours away.

Without electricity, Schreib spent most of his free time reading, helping with the coffee crop and chatting with his Honduran friends; he did have a cell phone, but it was off most of the time because it had to be taken to the nearest town for recharging.

When he returned to the U.S. last month, he was particularly excited about little things he had missed like taking a shower and ordering pizza.

Although the people were poor, they were grateful for what they had, said Schreib.

“A lot of people have misconceptions about poor countries; they see the starving kids on TV living in little huts and think that’s what it’s like,” said Schreib. “After being in Honduras for over two years, I have a totally different perspective.”

Schreib, who would like to work abroad, plans to keep in touch with his Honduran friends as well as his fellow Peace Corps volunteers.

Contact Jennifer Raley at jraley@times-news.com.