In Honduras, over half of children and youth are raised in single-parent households; while single fathers certainly exist, the vast majority of these families have single mothers at the helm. Taking into account the deep inequalities women face in access to formal, full-time employment with a living wage, families headed by single mothers are much more likely to live in poverty. As if the struggle to break the generational cycle of poverty wasn’t enough of a challenge, these women face parenthood –one of life’s greatest challenges, and also one of its greatest gifts– without a supportive partner by their side. Over the last four years in Honduras, I have had the privilege of meeting so many of these strong and tenacious women who struggle and persevere day after day, acting as both mother and father to raise their children and provide them with opportunities that were never available to them.Read More
One of the great dilemmas of the 21st century is the way technology and social media can distance us from those physically around us. In a paradoxical attempt to keep up with the ways people choose to present themselves online, we lose touch with their realities in real time. However, just as technology has the power to create distance between those physically close to us, it also has the power to bridge distances of thousands of miles between people around the world.
For a country like Honduras, bridging this distance has become imperative, now more than ever. Political unrest and impunity have made freedom of speech critical, but difficult to exercise. With Honduran voices being silenced, sometimes by their own government, the few glimpses of the country that are presented on global television sets are images of sensationalized poverty and violence. While these news stories have captured the attention of audiences worldwide, they do not provide a comprehensive picture of the country. These images, when existing as the sole images associated with Honduras, strip Hondurans of their resilient, culturally diverse, and prolific identities as academics, workers, businessmen and women, students, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters.
The Portals project, created in conjunction with Shared Studios and run by OYE staff members and youth, is challenging this status quo. A Portal is a gold shipping container enclosing an immersive audiovisual technology that, when inside, allows two people from different parts of the world to communicate as if in the same room. In its two short weeks of existence as the first Portal in all of Central America, the portal has served as a space for free expression. While inside, Honduran youth and Professors from the Perla Institute high school have engaged in conversations with Americans thousands of miles away, discussing politics, human rights, racism, tourism, food, culture and sharing personal challenges and dreams. In this way, the portal exerts its power, magnifying voices and deconstructing borders, one conversation at a time.
Credits: Video produced by Dylan Cassidy. Portals motion graphics by Anna Rottke, directed by Lilian Mehrel.
On Monday, July 6th, two of OYE’s youth attended an awards event in Tegucigalpa to accept the first place prize for the video they produced and submitted for a video contest organized by the Alliance for Peace and Justice (APJ) to close their campaign against impunity “Let’s Overturn Impunity ” (“Dale Vuelta a la Impunidad”).
Did you know that 800,000 youth in Honduras neither study nor work? In Spanish, they are known as the “NiNis” – ni trabajan, ni estudian – and are among the most vulnerable populations of Honduras. Without opportunities to study or work, youth are increasingly vulnerable to violence and exploitation, especially young girls.
If you wonder about OYE’s power to transform young lives, look no further than the Rodriguez brothers. For Alex (18) and Rey (19), attending high school was never a guarantee. Each year, it became increasingly difficult to pay for books, supplies and uniforms. Three years ago, the costs of education became too much to bear, forcing the brothers to drop out of high school before completing the 9th grade.They became 2 of the 800,000 “NiNis”: young, poor, neither working nor studying. Like so many of their peers, their lives could have easily taken a different course: joining a gang or making the dangerous journey north. Instead, Alex and Rey walked through OYE’s doors for the first time this April and discovered a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. They have since become active participants in OYE’s Arte La Calle art program and have proven themselves to be inspiring youth leaders and valuable contributors to OYE’s diverse community-based actions. At OYE, young people often discover and develop talents they never knew they had. Alex and Rey are counted among 19 of OYE’s new scholars of 2015.
On January 16th, we kicked off the year with our annual welcoming ceremony, the Entrega de Becas, where we recognized and welcomed all 74 of our scholarship students and their parents. The event gave new scholars and their families the opportunity to learn more about OYE’s mission and vision, emphasizing the opportunities OYE provides for youth apart from the scholarship, including leadership development and community engagement opportunities in the arts, communications and sports.
The entirety of OYE’s work is dedicated to breaking cycles of poverty and empowering young people to become agents of change and contribute to the positive transformation of Honduras. In an area where so many have failed, OYE’s mission endures. Honduras’ future rests in the hands of its many youth. We thank you for your support and invite you to continue to support OYE to provide opportunities to Honduran youth who choose to stay and build a brighter future in and for Honduras.
Proyecto CREA: Creacion de Espacios Amigables: Proyecto Salud Sexual y Reproductiva
It’s a subject most people choose to avoid until they have to. It’s located exactly at the most complex intersection of hormones, cultural norms, family values and biological growth and development. It’s an inevitable part of human interaction, but many gather information from their friends or older siblings, absorbing perceived social standards without reflecting on their own values and standards. Sexual and reproductive health involves far more than just the act of intercourse but rather a whole culture of mutual respect, values-based self-awareness and healthy practices. Teaching this important subject to adolescents and young adults in a safe, supportive and respectful environment is imperative to shaping the future generation of not only Hondurans but also global adults.
In 2008, the Honduran Ministries of Health and of Education along with 29 other Latin American governments signed the Ministerial Declaration “Preventing through Education”, a commitment to improve by 75% sexual health education in schools. However to date, this has not been implemented in any of the public schools in El Progreso.
Through a grant from The Seattle International Foundation’s Central America and Mexican Youth Fund, OYE has committed to support sexual and reproductive health education in two low-resource public schools and communities through classroom interventions, community workshops, in-classroom teacher support, recreational activities and media campaigns. The purpose of Proyecto CREA is to create safe spaces for age appropriate education around sexual and reproductive health, with an emphasis on promoting gender equity and female empowerment.
OYE’s youth coordinators and project leaders accompanied by staff from Proñino, a network of homes for street children in Honduras, met for five dynamic and interactive sessions exploring topics of sexuality, dating relationships, gender roles, family dynamics and reproductive anatomy among others. Common themes included societal stereotypes versus perceived realities; communication and navigating values based conflicts. This was the first of two trainings for project leaders before they start in the local schools alongside teachers who received a similar three-day training in this curriculum.
Honduras is no stranger to natural disasters. 16 years ago, Hurricane Mitch – the most deadly hurricane to hit the Western Hemisphere in over 200 years – devastated Honduras, leaving over 7,000 dead, 90,000 homes destroyed, 70% of roads affected, entire communities wiped out and up to 1.5 million homeless or severely affected. According to the then President of Honduras Carlos Flores, the effects of Hurricane Mitch set the country back nearly half a century in terms of economic development. Only ten years later, in 2008, severe flooding affected as many as 200,000 Hondurans, forcing many to flee their homes for shelters.
The Disaster Risk Reduction campaign entitled: “Civil Society, Private Sector and Government United to Reduce Urban Risk – Dipecho IX” is being launched by Trócaire, an Irish development agency, with funding from the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department of the European Commission (ECHO). Thanks to ECHO, Trócaire has received considerable support (€495,000.00) to develop a disaster risk reduction project in northern Honduras that links the private, public and civil society sectors to improve safety and the response to disasters in the country, should they occur.
The project aims to strengthen the prevention, preparedness and response capacities of people living in disaster-prone urban communities in Choloma and San Pedro Sula. It responds to the needs of people living in 10 communities at risk of floods and earthquakes that are not currently able to guarantee inhabitants’ safety in the event of an emergency. The bordos (riverfront slum) communities that are targeted are also areas with high levels of violence and poverty, with limited to no access to medical services, schools, or potable water.
Bringing together his love of running with his passion for OYE, former staff member Michael Solis ran a marathon last Sunday in Montreal and raised nearly $2000 to support OYE’s scholarship program, which currently provides partial academic scholarships to nearly 60 promising students from low-income families in El Progreso. We conducted an interview with him to learn more about his discovery of his love of running, RACE 4 OYE’s origins and why he continues to support OYE.
When did you start running?
In college I would run short distances (2-3 miles) but I never ran competitively. In 2009, I met a friend who signed me up for a 10k in Valparaiso, Chile. We ran a practice 10k the day before, which wasn’t the best idea. I did well during the actual race, but my untrained legs felt like stilts for days. I liked the rush of racing, but I wanted to train properly so my body could handle longer distances. I ended up doing a half marathon in Galway, Ireland in 2009 and ran my first full marathon in Athens that same year.
What is it like running in all of these different places?
It’s amazing! For me, running is a great way to get to know cities and even the countryside. I prefer running in cooler climates, which are hard to come by in Central America, which is where I have been living for the past 4 years. Luckily I travel a lot through work, so when I am training I get to run in all different kinds of places. Training in Ireland was hard because it rained so much, but now the rain doesn’t bother me at all. Training in Central America can be tricky, since I tend to get chased by angry stray dogs. It’s important to pick your running routes wisely, to run early before the sun gets too high, and to carry a rock just in case you need to defend yourself!
How did RACE 4 OYE come about?
I was working at OYE when our funding committee came up with the idea for RACE 4 OYE. A few people had run or biked for OYE before that, but we didn’t have an organized way to mobilize people who wanted to raise funds this way to support educational opportunities for Honduran youth. We started off by creating individual blogs for runners, but we ended up switching over to the CrowdRise website that facilitates the donation process. It’s all so quick and easy now, and people can RACE 4 OYE from anywhere in the world.
During the months of May and June, Fabiola Oro – OYE scholar and coordinator of Revista Jóvenes, the youth magazine – completed an internship with aMecate Corto, a newspaper produced by Radio Progreso, the Jesuit Community Radio station here in El Progreso.
Each day from Monday through Thursday, Fabiola was responsible for writing four brief news articles to publish on Radio Progreso’s website highlighting the top news stories of the day presented on the radio’s morning news segment, Zona Informativa.
Each Friday, Fabiola was accountable for submitting a more lengthy analytical piece (also to be published on the website) on a major news story. During her first month, the topics of her pieces were the following:
- Extradition of “Negro Lobo”
- Corruption in the IHSS (Honduran Institute of Social Security)
- Human trafficking
- Impunity for the assassinations of indigenous peoples
The publication of the weekly bulletins presented a challenge, though one that she overcame week after week. She received the topic of the weekly piece on Thursday morning and was given approximately 30 hours to investigate and write a quality three to five-page analytical piece that reflected the radio’s philosophy to not only publish on the website, but to circulate among credible and renowned figures all throughout Honduras.Read More
On May 18th, OYE organized the first workshop of the year for the mothers, fathers and guardians of our beneficiaries. As of last year, we have been making a more concerted effort to reach out to parents and engage them in our activities, whether it is providing a beneficial workshop or enlisting their support for OYE events.
The invited facilitator was Carlos Castro, the Technical Coordinator of Proyecto METAS, a USAID-funded project dedicated to providing Honduran youth the opportunity to acquire knowledge, life skills and job skills, attitudes, behaviors and the necessary perspective to create a more positive and promising future.
The topic of the workshop was “Family Economics and Microenterprises” aimed at providing orientation to promote better management of personal, familial and business finances and sharing best practices for running a family business. This was an incredibly relevant topic considering many guardians (especially mothers) of our scholars have already established – or hope to establish – small businesses, like food stands or community stores called pulperías to increase the family income.
As we commemorate OYE’s 9th Anniversary this year, we celebrate our successes and chart a course for the future. Our goal: build on the progress we’ve made and do even more in the months ahead to serve at-risk youth in El Progreso, Honduras through quality programming and educational scholarships. It is because of you that we have achieved so much and we are counting on your continued support to help young Hondurans break the cycle of poverty and create positive change in their lives and communities.
This year, OYE is directly influencing the lives of 70 scholars by providing access to formal education and challenging them with a dynamic year-round program. OYE engages scholars through life skills workshops, emphasizing self -esteem, leadership, team work and job preparation. The youth learn by publishing their own magazine, producing radio and video programs and participating in art projects. In a country chronically plagued by violent crime, political instability and injustice, OYE’s programs have never been more important or relevant.
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