The reality stars open up about their ups and downs
Credit: Humanity and Hope United

After nearly a year of constant filming, Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell were more than ready for a change of pace.

The Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? stars traveled to Honduras this month as part of Higgins’ work with the non-profit organization, Humanity and Hope.

“The overall vision of Humanity and Hope is to end poverty,” Higgins tells PEOPLE of the charity, which provides aid and assistance to Honduran villages in order to help them grow their economy, education and infrastructure so that they can ultimately become profitable on their own.

Credit: Humanity and Hope United
Credit: Humanity and Hope United

“It’s a huge vision, but with every village and every person who is influenced, we get closer to our goal,” says Higgins, who recently joined the board of directors. “I’ve been to Honduras eight times and every time I go down I feel more hopeful.”

The former Bachelor says one touching moment took place at a local 6th grade graduation. “We were able to celebrate with nine students, the first students who have ever moved onto secondary school in their village, thanks to Humanity and Hope,” says Higgins. “One of the girls said that a year ago, she thought her life was going to be making tortillas and that now she hopes to become a lawyer to help people who don’t have a voice.”

Says Bushnell: “Being down there really changed my perspective. It changed my outlook on life and made me want to get more involved.”

Now that they’re back stateside, the couple of one year, who recently revealed on their show that their wedding is off, are focused on moving forward.

Credit: Humanity and Hope United
Credit: Humanity and Hope United
Credit: Humanity and Hope United

“We’re still engaged and we’re still together,” explains Higgins. “We are building a foundation and we’re taking every day one step at a time. That’s what I’m excited about. ”

Adds Bushnell: “This trip brought us closer together. We weren’t ready to jump into a wedding. And we both needed to take a step back from life in the limelight. Me understanding a little bit more of where Ben’s heart is was so important and exactly what we needed.”

And for the record, “I still want to marry Lauren, very much so,” says Higgins. “Our relationship is better now than it has ever been.”

Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After? airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform. You can also catch up on the show via the Freeform app or on Hulu.