Helping the Youth of Honduras Stand Together
For many Hondurans, life is hard. With around 65
percent of the country's population living below the poverty line, conditions in
Honduras are challenging. Unemployment is high in many areas, and crime is a
serious and persistent problem. Gang violence, organized crime and the highest
rate of homicide in the world — 82 killings per 100,000 people,
according to the United Nations — make Honduras a dangerous place to
live. and Unless action is taken, the nation's children face an uncertain
According to UNICEF, more
than 4,700 children and youth belong to gangs in Honduras. Often, young
people feel compelled to join these groups for protection or companionship, or
out of fear. Some children as young as 11 are recruited into gangs and are
forced to perform criminal activities for older members. Social exclusion and a
lack of opportunities contribute to the feelings of hopelessness that many
children and youths experience, so intervention is crucial if
the generational cycle of poverty and gang crime is to be
Criminal gangs cause a variety of complex problems. UNICEF
reports in a recent study that 91 percent of teachers in five secondary schools
in the Central District say that gangs have created problems in their schools.
Bullying and other kinds of threatening behavior create a culture of fear among
students, sometimes causing students to drop out. Leaving school early has a
negative impact on these students' future opportunities and on the Honduran
population at large.
Giving Young People a Voice
ChildFund has worked in
Honduras since 1982, and one of our primary goals is to promote self-esteem
and leadership among children and youth through community engagement and
advocacy training. Young people whose voices are heard feel more connected to
their communities and work with adult leaders to create lasting change in
A key strategy of reducing poverty in Honduras is
ensuring that youths have access to vocational training and educational
opportunities. To date, ChildFund has enrolled 4,843 Honduran youths in training
and professional development programs. In addition, 803 youths have received
training in areas such as auto repair, electrical engineering, clothing
alteration and carpentry, providing them with the skills they need to find work
and support themselves as independent adults.
Along with these programs,
we have also helped work with more than 900 youths in community engagement.
These young people will champion children's rights and identify areas where
change can be made, bringing hope to their communities and offering them the
chance to make a lasting difference.
Hope for the Future
Although there is much
work to be done, progress is being made. As we work to give Honduran youths a
way to improve the quality of life in their communities, elsewhere in the
country, a glimmer of promise has emerged as two of the largest criminal gangs
in Honduras (and elsewhere) have
recently signed a truce as part of the "Zero Crimes, Zero Violence"
agreement at a ceremony in San Pedro Sula.
"They want to reconcile with
Honduran society and ask for forgiveness from the Honduran people, and I think
it is a step forward," said Romulo Emiliani, assistant bishop of the city's
archdiocese, who brokered the deal between the two gangs with Adam Blackwell,
secretary for multidimensional security at the Organization of American
You can help a child or teen in Honduras by providing hope
through sponsorship. By sponsoring
a child, you can ensure that a child's basic needs are met and that they
have the chance to have a happy, fulfilled childhood and adulthood.