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Honduras

Honduras is one of the poorest and most crime-ridden countries in the Western Hemisphere with 66 percent of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Rough geographic terrain in the country has limited the development of transportation, keeping much of the rural population isolated. Poverty and food scarcity are severe in rural areas and one out of every four Hondurans struggles with chronic malnutrition. In addition, one out of every five Hondurans lacks access to adequate health care.

Salesian missionaries have been working in Honduras for more than 100 years operating schools, youth centers and medical clinics to help support and educate poor youth and their families.

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Provide technical & vocational training

The Salesian-run Vocational Training Center in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras, is committed to providing the training needed for disadvantaged youth to gain the social and trade skills needed for long-term employment. Salesian missionaries who operate the center conduct an initial study of each student to collect key information on the socio-economic and the family situation. The goal is to better understand each student in order to assist them more effectively.

The majority of the youth who enter the Salesian center come from highly vulnerable areas where gangs and drug trafficking prevail. Most are at risk of social exclusion and vulnerable to exploitation and violence. Salesian educators go into these communities to meet with youth and their families. In the process, they have been attacked and even threatened but note that the risks are worth helping youth to have hope for a better future.

Close to 250 youth attend the vocational center full-time for up to two years of technical and vocational training in key employment sectors. These sectors have been identified by companies that are working with the Center to place students into work after they successfully complete their education. The Center also has more than 1,000 students attending weekend courses in a variety of subjects, preparing for the workforce and improving upon skills while currently working.

Rescue children facing adversity

The Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Tegucigalpa has been implementing the “Preventing Drug Consumption by Youngsters in Honduras” project, which aims to provide life skills training to 500 youth age 15 to 30 over a two-year period. The goal is to reduce the involvement of youth in the criminal justice system who are at high social risk of drug abuse and related criminal activities. Salesian Missions secured the project funding through a grant from the Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

The life skills training touches on topics including self-knowledge, self-esteem, assertive communication, interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, resilience, youth leadership, and ethical and moral values, among others. Youth are also able to access sports and activities including football, volleyball workshops, table folk dance, and dance workshops. The project also offers music and art including drawing workshops and guitar lessons.

Further activities of this project aim to help strengthen the whole family. One of the challenges for participants is that within their family there is often at least one member that has drug issues or conflicts with the law. Many come from completely disintegrated families. There are serious economic problems that result in youth not having their basic needs met including enough food and lacking basic services such as drinking water and access to transportation. Project staff have also recognized that family attitudes can affect the development of youth, and drugs and problems can be prevented by addressing family issues such as domestic violence, negative attitudes, and parental drug use.

The project was needed in the region because of its high rate of violence and murder. The majority of the youth who enter the Salesian center come from highly vulnerable areas where gangs and drug trafficking prevail. Most are at risk of social exclusion and vulnerable to exploitation and violence.

Deliver life-saving meals

Thanks to an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Rise Against Hunger thousands of people in need, from infants to seniors, are receiving life-saving medical aid and nutritious food through Salesian programs in Honduras.

The rice-meals were provided to day care centers, schools, youth centers, senior programs and medical clinics as well as distributed through social programs run by local church parishes. Staff members at Salesian programs reported a marked improvement in their students as a result of the nutritious meals provided. Nutritional benefits of the rice-meals prevent early loss of teeth and well-fed students find it easier to focus in school. With the nutritious meals, fewer students were held back a grade and were able to advance in their studies.

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A Real-World Campaign for Positive Social Change

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