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New Grants

Cooperativa Femenina de Producción Agropecuaria Alianza Limitada (COFEPROAL), $101,510 over four years; counterpart committed, $40,590.

COFEPROAL will open and operate a multipurpose outlet in La Esperanza, the capital of the department of Intibucá, which will sell weaving supplies and other merchandise and will market indigenous crafts on a wholesale basis. (HO-255)

Organización para el Empoderamiento de la Juventud (OYE Adelante Jóvenes), $127,970 over three years; counterpart committed, $342,649.

OYE Adelante Jóvenes will develop its programs in the arts for young Hondurans at risk, its magazine and its radio broadcasts through equipment purchases, training and internships. It will work to make these activities self-sufficient so that they continue to benefit these vulnerable Hondurans and the community of El Progreso. (HO-256)

Alternatives for Youths in El Progreso

With a homicide rate that reached 86 per 100,000 inhabitants last year, Honduras is considered one of the world’s most dangerous countries. In 2011, San Pedro Sula, its largest urban center, topped the list of the most violent cities in the Americas, according to a January article in the Christian Science Monitor. A teeming gang population, thought to outnumber the police force and be better armed, exacts an “impuesto de guerra,” or “war tax,” from small businesses and conducts a lucrative traffic in narcotics, weapons and human beings. The crime wave, which one former U.S. Ambassador called a tsunami, spills over into El Progreso, the bustling satellite in San Pedro Sula’s dark shadow. A lopsided distribution of wealth and a stagnant labor market have plunged most households in El Progreso below the poverty line and youths often drop out of school to support their families.

Organización para el Empoderamiento de la Juventud (OYE Adelante Jóvenes) has worked in El Progreso since 2005 to assure that 400 of its residents between the ages of 12 and 25 keep up their education so that their future holds positive alternatives to crime, drugs and prostitution. Most of these young men and women come from households supported by a single parent earning between $100 and $150 per month; some must live with grandparents or distant relatives. OYE encourages them all to stay in school and attend class. Small scholarships provide students opportunities to supplement the uneven offerings of the educational system. Individual youths may choose from after-school programs emphasizing, sports, conservation, street art and performances, or community service with volunteers from abroad who keep schools in repair. Other options include working on OYE’s magazine and its online radio program.

OYE makes an effort to involve parents in their children’s schools and provides regular feedback on progress in the program. It collaborates with other NGOs and businesses. In addition to building up its programs and training its staff and students in management skills, OYE will use its IAF award to launch a series of internships with print and broadcast media. Pursuing a career in journalism takes commitment and courage. More than 20 Honduran journalists have been killed during the past three years and few of these murders have been solved. Undaunted by the grim statistics, OYE’s staff, supporters and young participants hold firm their belief that a free and fearless press is critical to scaling back violence and creating a more stable environment—so that young people in El Progreso have a chance.

—John Reed, IAF representative