Creating Positive Change for Youth in Honduras
For many Hondurans, life is hard. Around 65 per cent of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, 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 makes Honduras a dangerous place to live, especially for children and youths.
Often, young people feel compelled to join gangs 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 broken.
Criminal gangs cause a variety of complex problems. Many teachers have reported that gangs have created problems in their schools. Bullying and other kinds of threatening behaviour create a culture of fear among students, sometimes causing youths to drop out of school, which has negative impacts on their future opportunities and on the Honduran population at large.
ChildFund has worked in Honduras since 1982, and one of our primary goals is to give youths the tools to create positive change in their lives and in their communities. We believe that 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.