Sharing the gift of entrepreneurship through volunteering
For retired couple Gerry and Sharleen Moodie, Honduras holds a special place in their hearts.
The couple is currently preparing to fly out to the Latin American country to begin a volunteer placement with Cuso International. Gerry and Sharleen have been married for 35 years and have a combined background in marketing, sales, and entrepreneurship. It’ll be their third time volunteering in Honduras supporting women-owned businesses and their fifth placement with Cuso.
Gerry, 62, and Sharleen, 67, retired from their corporate roles nearly a decade ago. It was around this time, that Gerry remembers first learning about Cuso during a visit with his doctor.
“I wanted to backpack the world and I was visiting my travel doctor to get vaccinations. I remember he asked me about my background,” Gerry said. “He told me about this organization called Cuso International which he happened to be the travel doctor for, and he said, ‘they are looking for people like you.”
Soon afterwards, Gerry found a Cuso placement opportunity located in Laos and decided to apply for him and Sharleen, without telling her. Not long after applying, he received word that their application had been accepted and surprised Sharleen with the news. This was eight years and four placements ago.
Sharleen recalls being enthusiastic about the idea, but she also had questions.
“Well, I first wanted to know where Laos was,” she says with a laugh. “The benefit about Cuso is you learn about the world and different cultures.”
Following their volunteer placement in Asia, the couple made their way to Eastern Africa to complete a volunteer placement in Tanzania and then to Latin America where they completed a year and a half placement in Honduras.
In Honduras, Sharleen and Gerry assisted small businesses in selling coffee to the North American market. They will be taking on a similar role for their upcoming placement.
The volunteer business advisors are looking forward to returning to Honduras and experiencing the country’s beauty and welcoming culture.
“It’s a stunningly beautiful country with a very lush geography,” Sharleen says.
Additionally, she notes the people are one of a kind.
“The people are exceptional, and there is a lot of freshness of attitude about life,” she says.
Although the Latin American country has ongoing issues with corruption and violence, both Sharleen and Gerry agree Honduras has a rich and beautiful culture.
“It’s a phenomenal country with tremendous potential. My hope is that it will grow in terms of being a food source for North America,” Sharleen says.
“Once you do this type of volunteer work, your perception changes and I will say that we are permanently changed as a result of the work we’ve done,” Sharleen says.