The Organization for Youth Empowerment, known simply as OYE in Honduras, was founded in 2005 by Ana Luisa Ahern and Justin Eldridge-Otero, inspired by a vision of a society where youth have a powerful voice and the knowledge and resources to use that voice to create positive change in their lives and their communities.
After various years of volunteering during their adolescent years with the youth of El Progreso, specifically the children of the COPPROME orphanage, the two North Americans came to understand the challenges facing Honduran youth. Based on this knowledge and their desire to help, they designed a program to empower young, at-risk youth and provide them what their families were unable to provide: an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty through education.
As a first step, they created a scholarship program to provide youth access to higher education which otherwise would have been denied them due to economic barriers. However, they rapidly realized that access to a formal education was only the beginning and began to develop an integrated leadership curriculum that is now divided into four distinct programs: the Scholarship Program, the Capacity-Building and Leadership Program, the Community Engagement Projects and Institutional Strengthening Program.
OYE obtained 501(c)(3) status in the District of Columbia in 2005, but was not legally recognized in Honduras until 2012. The Board of Directors is comprised of experienced professionals from both the United States and Honduras who are passionate about youth development.
WHAT WE DO
OYE is an innovative youth development NGO operating in El Progreso, Honduras. While not replacing formal education, OYE seeks to supplement, facilitate, and go-beyond what at-risk Honduran youth learn in their home and school environment.
Approaching development and leadership from a dynamic point of view, OYE engages and builds youth leaders through partial, merit-based high school and university scholarships, capacity-building and leadership workshops and community engagement initiatives in the arts and sports.
Our Mission: To educate, empower and engage disadvantaged youth to break the cycle of poverty and become agents of change in their homes, schools and communities.
Our Vision: A society where youth are key actors in the positive development of Honduras.
Our Values: Commitment. Solidarity. Leadership. Respect. Tolerance.
OYE IN REVIEW
If you want a closer look at our work with El Progreso’s youth, look no further. The digital version of a summary of our key programs is available for download! Check it out, share it, download it, print it – just don’t miss out on it!
WHERE WE WORK
Honduras is located in Central America, bordered by Guatemala and El Salvador to the (south)west, the Caribbean Sea to the north, Nicaragua to the southeast and the Pacific Ocean to the south. Though rich in natural beauty with expansive green highlands and beautiful beaches along northern coast, Honduras is a country where violence is endemic and poverty widespread.
OYE operates in El Progreso, a city of approximately 300,000 inhabitants which resides a mere 30 minutes outside San Pedro Sula, the world’s most violent city.
Despite nearly a decade of major strides towards development due to international investment and an increasingly global marketplace, Honduras suffered a political crisis in 2009 that weakened the fabric of its civil society and left the future of its youth in dire straights.
Honduras is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world. According to a 2013 study by the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), an average of 20 people were murdered every day in Honduras, a nation with a population of just 8 million. San Pedro Sula, the world’s most violent city, has the highest homicide rate in the world with 173 per 100,000 residents.
While Honduras has long been riddled with violence, the expansion of Mexican drug cartels into northern Honduras in 2011 prompted an explosion in drug-related violence and fueled expansion of gang activity and organized crime. While no one is immune, youth are the principal perpetrators and victims of violence. The Honduran government has failed to address the pervasive culture of impunity that leaves the perpetrators unpunished and people increasingly vulnerable.
With one of the highest rates of income inequality, 60% of the Honduran population lives below the national poverty line of $2 a day and and 43% lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Unemployment is widespread, especially among youth.
Honduras consistently has one of the highest primary school dropout rates in Central America. While primary education is free and obligatory for every child between the ages of seven and fourteen, the associated costs and income-loss to the household when a child is in school is often too much for families to bear. Of those young people who do stay in school until the age 14, forty-five percent of them end up dropping out to look for work to support their families.
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OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Miguel López, President
Patricia Ahern, Vice President
Justin Eldridge Otero, Treasurer
Lessy Castillo de Fasquelle, Secretary
José Antonio Rivera, Member
Walter Molinari, Member
Sam Vigersky, Member
Rocío Mendoza, Ex-Officio
Paquita Holland, Advisor