Dear Friends and Supporters,
When Justin Eldridge Otero, Ana Luisa Ahern and Jessica Mockrin started working with young Honduran students unable to continue their education due to poverty, they had no idea that their efforts would result in an organization that has endured and grown for ten years.
Since 2005, OYE has provided access to education, leadership development and community engagement opportunities to over 500 promising youth in El Progreso and its surrounding communities. No words can express how humbled and grateful we are for your confidence in our mission and the accomplishments of our youth scholars.
This year as we celebrate our 10th Anniversary, we reflect back on the youth whose lives have been and continue to be transformed by OYE.
Dunia was one of OYE’s first five scholarship recipients in 2005. When she was only 12 years old, she lost both of her parents to AIDS. Living out her remaining adolescent years in Copprome, a home for orphaned children in El Progreso, she had little hope of continuing her education upon graduating from high school. Through OYE’s support and working part-time to cover her living expenses, Dunia graduated from university in 2010 with a degree in Industrial Engineering. After a few years of employment elsewhere, she returned to El Progreso and to OYE in 2012 as our Programs Coordinator. Last year, she was selected by the Seattle International Foundation’s Central America and Mexico Youth Fund, as one of five Central American youth leaders, to head a sexual and reproductive health education project carried out by OYE to promote healthy lifestyles and gender equity among at-risk youth populations in El Progreso.
As Programs Coordinator, Dunia oversees OYE´s Participation and Community Engagement Programs, youth-ed programs designed to build stronger communities by providing a safe space for youth to engage with their peers, discover hidden talents, learn new skills, express themselves, cultivate creativity and build self-confidence. These programs, designed and led by select OYE scholars (youth coordinators), serve as OYE’s platform to reach out to and engage thousands of youth throughout the city through the arts, communications and sports.
Among OYE's Participation and Communication Programs is Arte La Calle. Since the beginning, the arts have been a crucial element of OYE's strategy in engaging and empowering youth. Arte La Calle creates a space for youth to develop artistically and express themselves and their reality through the visual, performing and media arts. This year, nearly 100 youth actively participate from week to week, but thousands more youth are impacted by the program’s diverse initiatives.
This year, OYE's programming in the arts and communications, dubbed Mi Voz Es Poder, was nominated for the International Spotlight Award of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, the United States' highest honor for out-of-school time arts and humanities programs that reach underserved youth. We are incredibly honored by this nomination and humbled by the generous support of our donors that make this program, and all of OYE's work, possible.
During the past year, we have made great strides in acquiring financial support from local businesses and institutions in an effort to achieve greater sustainability for OYE's programs, especially our scholarship program, and reach even more youth next year. While we are proud that increasing numbers of Hondurans are supporting their hometown youth, it isn’t enough. It is because of you that we have made it this far and your support remains indispensable as we move forward.
We’ve come so far in these past ten years and together we can continue our mission to educate and empower young Hondurans for years to come... Are you in?
Hello Friends and Supporters,
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.
You make this work possible.
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.
You may remember Oscar, one of our all-star scholars who was selected and subsequently attended the Iberian Youth Forum in Montevideo, Uruguay last November. We are happy, though not surprised, to report that his streak of success continues. This September, he entered a graphic design contest for the Dipecho project, a disaster risk reduction campaign launched by the Irish development agency Trócaire… and he won! The skills Oscar has developed through his participation in OYE’s graphic design program, which he now coordinates, were on full display at the campaign launch in San Pedro Sula, where his design was prominently displayed on banners, signs and posters to promote the campaign. We know this is just the beginning to an incredibly bright future for this talented young Honduran.
Thanks to your support, OYE is able to offer opportunities for youth to develop skills and leadership; express their ideas through art, media and communications; and build their confidence. Investment in the integral education of youth goes way beyond the individual. Education breaks the cycle of poverty; it is as simple as that. Building confidence and empowering leaders transforms communities.
Since OYE's foundation in 2005, nearly 500 young Hondurans have received the gift of education. This would never have been possible without your generous support. As we read the applications of next year’s scholarship hopefuls, we are moved by their stories of struggle and of loss and inspired by their aspirations and desire to overcome their circumstances. Everyone has the right to education, yet the reality of extreme poverty forces many children and youth to drop out of school and search for employment just to survive. This reminds us of why we do what we do. But we want to do more.
As we enter the giving season, please consider making a contribution to provide even more promising youth with the opportunity to stay in Honduras, enjoy their right to education and create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.
And as always, thank you for your partnership in this important work.
P.S. After several months of development, we finally launched our new and completely redesigned website this September. Check it out here.
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.
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