As we commemorated our 9th Anniversary this year, we celebrated our successes and how far we've come over the past nine years and at the same time acknowledge how much more we want to do to serve at-risk youth in El Progreso. It is because of you, our generous supporters, that we have achieved so many successes over the past nine years and we are counting on your support to continue to build the capacity of young Honduran leaders to break the cycle of poverty and create positve change in their lives and communities.
The recent wave of unaccompanied minors from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador arriving at the U.S. border - called an "urgent humanitarian situation" by President Obama - has sparked international attention, causing several international and regional humanitarian organizations to investigate the conditions that are causing increasing numbers of children and youth to abandon their homes and seek refuge in the U.S.
On July 28th, two of OYE's youth leaders participated in a youth forum hosted by World Vision, who sent representatives to travel the region to listen to the stories of its youth, the realities they face day to day and their perspectives on why so many young people are making the perilous journey across the border. Through their stories and experiences, they identified the central government's corruption and inability to protect its people, provide a quality education and provide employment opportunities as the primary reasons for leaving. One of OYE's university scholars shared the experience of three of her cousins who saw no other option than to flee Honduras after the murder of their brother, who paid the ultimate price for leaving the gang life behind him upon their father's death. They are among the thousands of victims of Honduras' rampant impunity.
On August 9th, OYE's art project Arte La Calle collaborated with our corporate ally and supporter KM2 Solutions to paint a mural at a grade school (serving students from 1st-9th grade) in a low-income area of San Pedro Sula. In light of the school's challenge with student retention, especially after the 6th grade, they created a motivational mural sharing the message: "You can be anything you want to be."
On August 16th, OYE's radio project Ritmo Online hosted a radio forum on the effects of immigration on Honduran youth, attended by youth from two of El Progreso's prominent high schools. Panelists from ERIC (Research Division community radio station Radio Progreso), Cofamipro (Committee of Relatives of Disappeared Migrants from El Progreso) and Amiredis (Disabled Returned Migrant Association) cited lack of opportunities, violence and impunity as the major sources of recent migrations and provided powerful testimonies of the dangers involved in crossing the border illegally, especially for young women.
The most vulnerable of Honduras' youth are those who find themselves in conditions of extreme poverty and without opportunities to study or to work. Through small, but valuable educational stipends, OYE currently provides nearly 60 low-income youth with the opportunity to stay in school, reducing (though not eliminating) their vulnerability to violence and giving them a reason to believe in a future in Honduras. Since 2005, over 450 local youth have received this valuable scholarship and opportunity. In addition to providing the opportunity for promising students to continue their studies at the high school and university level, OYE strives to provide a safe space for youth to express themselves and realize the power of their collective voice.
In a country where youth are so often connected to violence and gang activity - both as perpetrators and as victims - OYE's youth are in the streets spreading positive messages and inspiring confidence in their role as the future leaders of Honduras. OYE believes in the power of youth to change their communities and country. OYE's youth believe in the power of their voices. We thank you for believing, too.
In appreciation and gratitude,
As May comes to a close and we approach our 9th Anniversary, we are reminded that our work with at-risk Honduran youth would not be possible without the generosity of supporters like you. Because of your support, this year we are able to provide academic scholarships to over 60 youth in El Progreso and reach even more through our capacity-building and community engagement programs.
2014 ushered in a new team of youth coordinators, eight scholars who have dedicated their time and effort to bring our five community action programs to new heights. Participation in the community action programs not only provides an opportunity for our youth to put into practice the skills they acquire in the capacity-building and leadership program, but also serves as a medium of expression to engage with at-risk youth who do not directly benefit from our programs and create positive change in their communities.
So far in 2014, the magazine program organized a day of leadership and teambuilding activities at a home for street boys; the art program painted an environmental mural at a local elementary school and a health-related mural at a public health center in a nearby community; the radio program planned an excursion to a nearby waterfall, which not only provided an affordable opportunity for local youth to enjoy one of Honduras’ hidden gems, but also raised funds for the program; the graphic design program created a video on leadership and the wants of Honduran youth; and the sports program organized an athletic field day.
In collaboration with university volunteers from the United States, a local elementary school and the municipal government of El Progreso, our youth executed yet another river clean-up and reforestation event along the Pelo River, followed-up by the painting of a mural and an environmental campaign the local elementary school next to the clean-up and reforestation site.
In a country where the economy continues to deteriorate, unemployment soars, violence reigns and the term “youth” is often followed by “delinquents” in the minds of many, we at OYE believe in the importance of investing in and showing our confidence in the youth of Honduras.
We are eternally grateful to all of you who have shown your support for our youth over the past nine years and with your continued support, we will persist in pursuing our mission to provide at-risk Honduran youth with the tools and resources they need to continue their education, create change in their communities and contribute to the positive development of Honduras.
OPENING CEREMONY 2014
The Entrega de Becas, our annual welcoming ceremony for first time and returning scholarship students and their families, was an exciting way to kick off 2014. The event created an opportunity for OYE's first time scholars and families to learn about OYE. The remarkable attendance and energy of the scholars and their families can only be a sign of great things to come this year.
Highlights of the event include:
Heyli Aguilar joined OYE three years ago as a reserved and diffident girl. Today she is a confident leader assuming the role of Sports Program Coordinator.
"Three years ago I applied for and was awarded a scholarship at OYE. The first year I felt isolated from the group because I was afraid to participate in the activities; but since I enjoy playing sports, I asked to form part of the Sports project. In the Sports project I enjoyed myself and bonded with the other OYE students.
"OYE has provided me with more than just economic help, it has helped me socially, morally, and with my inter-personal communication."
For more information on OYEs youth leaders, click here.
HANDS ON EL PROGRESO
Angie Dusenberry first met OYE during a volunteer trip in March 2013. OYE had the pleasure of hosting Angie as a month-long volunteer in January. Among the various projects she realized for OYE, the most notable was "Hands on El Progreso," a day of volunteer service.
The volunteer event consisted of a major neighborhood clean-up and reforestation project along the bank of the Pelo River. Angie mobilized over 70 volunteersincluding students, residents, and authority figures. Over50 bags of trash were collected and more than 100 trees were planted along the bank of the river to prevent corrosion.
For more details, check out our blog post here.
OYE is proud to announce that one of our own youth scholars, Oscar Osorio, has been selected to attend the Seminario Iberoamericano sobre Juventud, estrategias de social media y nuevas tecnologías, organizada por OIJ - Organización Iberoamericana de Juventud y la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) from 18th - 22nd, November, 2013. The Iberian Youth seminar invites talented young people from across Latin American to discuss development via social media and new technology.
Oscar, an at-risk Honduran youth, joined OYE in 2011. The academic scholarship caught his attention as a means of continuing his formal studies. However, as an OYE scholar Oscar took advantage of everything. Over the past three years he has grown both personally and professionally. His fellow scholarship students, friends, and family note many positive changes in Oscar's confidence and self awareness.
Upon joining OYE each scholarship recipient participates in leadership and capacity building classes and a hands-on youth led civic engagement project. Oscar went beyond the core capacity building classes and assisted optional resume building workshops and anything we made available. His involvement in the NGO and its projects has gone far beyond a simple volunteer. He actively participates and absorbs the lessons OYE can provide.
The greatest contribution that Oscar has made to both the NGO and his own development has been through his youth-led civic engagement project, Revista Jovenes. Revista Jovenes is OYE's youth-run magazine. Oscar has been a key member of the magazine group. He has developed the in-house technical skills to design and print the magazine. His efforts to learn graphic design and print setting have given the youth-run magazine an unprecedented independence. Conversely, Oscar has assumed an incredible level of responsability.
I cannot think of anyone more deserving or appropriate to attend this youth conference. The trip to Uruguay will be Oscar's first excursion outside of his home country, but we are confident that he will be a great ambassador for OYE and Honduras. His charasmatic attitude, drive, and unique experience will make him a very interesting participant.
Your donations and support are essential in the formation of confident young leaders like Oscar. Were it no for you and OYE, Oscar would not be traveling to Uruguay and attending this conference. As the holiday season approaches remember that your gift, one time or monthly, makes a huge difference for the at-risk Honduran youth we work with.
Dear friends of OYE, July 2013
As OYE celebrates its 8th anniversary, we are once again reminded that the work we do with the young people of Honduras and their families is both rewarding and challenging. We also fully realize that donors like you are the reason OYE recently celebrated its 8th anniversary.
We’ve come a long way and are now led by the leadership, talent and dedication of young Hondurans like our new executive director, Maria de los Angeles Mejia. Maria, who recently earned graduate degrees in non-profit management and business administration, is poised to take OYE to a whole new level! Welcome Maria!!
From the donor to the classroom: Your commitment to OYE’s work has increased our capacity to reach more youth than ever before. As violence in Honduras continues to escalate, OYE’s impact goes beyond the classroom.
Behind each of the numbers mentioned above are stories of youth and their families succeeding, made possible by you. Stories like that of teenager Amer Perez, who joined OYE in 2009, leveraged his scholarship to take private English lessons, graduated from high school, and is now working part-time at a bilingual international call center to support his single-mother and younger brother; or Gerald Velasquez, a once soft-spoken teen, who today attends college and guides OYE’s city mural program. These are two examples, among many, of the talented and driven OYE teens that given the opportunity overcome enormous obstacles to realize their potential as engaging and empowering youth leaders.
Your donations are having a direct positive impact on the lives of at-risk Honduran youth. YOU are part of the OYE family and we need you to keep going!
Your support and involvement has taken us a long-way, and we ask that you make another generous donation this year. In return we promise to continue doing our best to change the lives of our students.
Maria de Los Angeles Justin Eldridge-Otero Ana Luisa Ahern
Director Founder Founder
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