Friday, April 4, 2014

Get Ready! Only four days until Indiegogo Campaign Launch for OYE's Scholarship Program.

As many of you know, OYE initially started out as a small-scale scholarship program to give Honduran youth of El Progreso something that neither their government nor their families could provide: the opportunity to pursue high school and university-level education and break the cycle of poverty in which they lived.

While OYE has expanded its programs in recent years to include capacity-building and leadership workshops and five diverse community engagement projects, our academic scholarship program continues to be a pillar of OYE’s work with at-risk youth in El Progreso. Without this scholarship, many of our remarkable youth leaders would not be able to continue their pursuit of education and would rather be forced to prematurely enter the labor force to provide to the family income.

In the interest of promoting our scholarship program, we are excited to announce the April 8th launch of a campaign (via Indiegogo) to raise $2500 for the scholarships of four of our youth coordinators. Without the initiative and dedication of our youth coordinators, OYE would not be what it is today.

ETA: Our Indiegogo campaign is now live. Click HERE to donate now!

In preparation for this campaign, I asked each of the four featured scholars to provide a short biography – focusing on their education, family and their experience in OYE. Here are the results.

Meet Heyli. Heyli is 18 years-old and in her final year of high school. She lives with her aunt and cousin in El Progreso, while the rest of her family – including her parents – live two hours away in the town of Siguatepeque. After four years in OYE, she has distinguished herself as a leader among her peers and currently serves as co-coordinator for OYE’s newly formalized sports program, Deportes.

To Heyli, OYE is so much more than just a scholarship program. Through her time in OYE, she has gained confidence in herself, cultivated her interpersonal skills, learned and developed new skills, and become more extroverted in many aspects of her life, which has allowed her to feel more at ease in social settings and relate better to her peers and those around her.

In her 18 years, Heyli has experienced many challenges and disappointments, yet she refuses to let these experiences define her and her future. In her words, “Life presents us with many challenges, but if we know how to face and overcome these challenges, they become our accomplishments. Of all my accomplishments, I am most proud of becoming a strong leader, student and person.”
This year, Heyli is on the cusp of accomplishing one of her dreams, graduating from high school with honors and a positive self-image. With your donation, we can provide the economic means to support Heyli’s dream of graduating high school.

Meet Erick. Erick is 19 years-old and currently in his second year at a private technological university in San Pedro Sula where he studies electronic engineering. Hailing from a small nuclear family, he lives with his mother and older brother in El Progreso. After eight years in OYE and participation in a variety of community engagement programs, including the mazagine and design programs, Erick has distinguished himself as co-coordinator of OYE’s sports program, which found its origins in OYE’s annual soccer tournament. Erick lives and breathes fútbol, which made his selection as co-coordinator of the newly formalized sports program a clear and natural choice.

Considering OYE has been a significant part of his life since his early adolescence, Erick’s appreciation of and affection towards OYE is undeniable. In his own words: “OYE is a second family to me. It is a place where I share experiences with my peers and learn important skills that serve me in different aspects of my life.” Through his time in OYE, Erick has come to appreciate the value of working with peers with different personalities and interests and overcome his fear of speaking in public and leading his peers. In addition to university and OYE, Erick maintains a part-time job as a teacher at a local school to contribute to the family income, which he considers one of his greatest achievements to date.

Meet Jefry. Jefry is 17 years old and started university this year at the national public university in San Pedro Sula, where he studies mathematics. Jefry lives with his mother and his six siblings, three older and three younger. In his fourth year in OYE and in the art program, Jefry was selected as one of the three youth coordinators of Arte La Calle, specifically coordinating one of OYE’s longest standing and most visible initiatives – murals.

Looking at his paintings and mural work, you would never guess that Jefry was not a “born artist.” Recalling his first months in OYE, Jefry confesses that he was one of the last first-year scholarship students to pick a project. While he ultimately chose the art program, his inclination was based not on any previous experience or penchant for art, but rather because of his preference for the leadership style of a former art coordinator, his predecessor and one of OYE’s finest leaders. During the past four years, Jefry has spent countless hours at OYE before and after classes practicing and honing his artistic skills. This dedication did not go unnoticed as he was selected by his peers and OYE staff as one of OYE’s eight youth coordinators this year.

Jefry humbly acknowledges OYE’s positive impact on his life. He recalls a time not long ago when he was nearly forced to drop out of high school because he simply could not find the money to continue; however, with his OYE scholarship and the support of his faithful friends and peers, Jefry was able to finish high school and is now pursuing a university education.

Meet Claudia. Claudia is 19 years old and currently in her second year at the national public university in San Pedro Sula, where she is pursuing a degree in educational administration. She lives in El Progreso with her parents and two sisters. Like many of her peers, Claudia’s father is employed at a factory and her mother takes care of the home. After four years in OYE as a participant in the art program, Arte La Calle, Claudia has risen to become one of its three youth coordinators, specifically coordinating the production of art pieces to exhibit and sell to promote auto-sustainability of the program.

While OYE’s scholarship program serves as a motivation to continue her studies, Claudia’s experience in OYE transcends this simple fact. Through the various capacity-building workshops OYE offers, her work as receptionist and her community outreach experience in the art program, Claudia has developed her leadership and organizational skills and learned the value of sharing and serving the community around her. A testament to the value of the capacity-building and leadership program, Claudia states: “These workshops have allowed me to expand my knowledge on a variety of topics that are of great importance as we are able to apply so much of what we learn in our daily lives.” Claudia herself perfectly exemplifies this statement. Furthermore, she does not only apply the knowledge and skills she has acquired in her personal life, but she has also truly given the best of herself to OYE, most recently becoming a youth coordinator of Arte La Calle, one of OYE’s most successful and celebrated programs.

In Honduras, only a small percentage of youth have the opportunity to attend university and an even smaller percentage graduate. With your donation, we can provide Claudia with the economic support to continue to pursue her degree in educational administration and become one of a hopefully ever-increasing group of university graduates.

We are calling on YOU – former and current volunteers, staff and committed supporters – to help US give these four individuals the opportunity to continue their pursuit of higher education and create positive change in their lives and communities.

To show your solidarity for OYE’s mission and your support of our youth, we invite you to join us in this campaign. Upon the campaign launch on Tuesday, April 8th, we encourage all of you on Facebook to change your profile picture to our campaign logo (above) and promote the campaign among your friends, family and coworkers. With your help, we are confident we can achieve this goal and provide the hope of another year of education for four of our youth coordinators.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Check it out! Revista Jóvenes First Edition of 2014.

In collaboration with the Adobe Diseño project (led by Oscar Osorio), Revista Jóvenes Magazine project (led by Fabiola Oro) releases the first edition of 2014 of their youth-focused magazine. Check it out on Issuu!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Trash and Trees Bring Us Together.

“Hands on El Progreso” took place on January 26th at the Río Pelo in the neighborhood of Penjamo located just outside of El Progreso’s town center. The event brought together 100 volunteers and various sponsors and organizations.

The collaboration between OYE, the municipal government, the Red Cross, Fire and Police Departments and the Penjamo neighborhood allowed for the execution of a safe and successful event.

“Hands on El Progreso” was inspired by a University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh (UWO) event called “Hands on Oshkosh”. Participation in “Hands on Oshkosh” has reached over 300 students per semester since its inauguration in 2010. Volunteer Angie Dusenberry introduced this event to the OYE scholars in the hopes that it would inspire volunteerism and unite the community.

The collaboration between OYE, the municipal government, the Red Cross, Fire and Police Departments and the Penjamo neighborhood allowed for the execution of a safe and successful event.

Recruiting volunteers to pick up trash seems daunting, but ultimately proved to be an easy task. OYE scholar Oscar Osorio and Angie presented the event at OYE’s Entrega de Becas event, our annual welcoming ceremony for first time and returning OYE scholars and their families. By highlighting event details, they sparked the interest of many of the scholars.

Upper left: Fredy Aguilar from the Municipal Department
of Environment. Upper right: Volunteer Angie
Dusenberry. Bottom: OYE scholarship students.
January 26, the day of the event, was a whirlwind. The first 50 volunteers who arrived received matching "Hands on El Progreso" T-shirts. Participants included OYE scholars, their families, firefighters and community members. Everyone came together at the Penjamo community center, where a representative of the municipal government warned the community about the dangers of pollution and deforestation and emphasized community responsibility in their prevention.

After the inauguration, the participants cleaned and planted trees along the Pelo River for two hours, filling over 50 bags with trash and planting nearly 100 trees. It was inspiring to see the diversity of the participants, from local public servants to children, and the excitement about future community engagement efforts.

Collage of photos of OYE scholars and community participants throughout the "Hands on El Progreso" river clean-up and reforestation event.

A huge thanks goes out to all the participants and the effort Angie Dusenberry put into organizing this event for OYE and El Progreso.

Note: Much of the content of this blog post comes from Angie Dusenberry´s volunteer write-up. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Super Becados - A Team that Works

If you’ve worked or are social with people who work at NGOs you’ve heard the age-old adage “overworked and under-paid.” That’s precisely how an NGO should be running because at the end of the day as much of the money flowing in, in our case largely from individual donors’ pockets is earmarked to go directly towards the organizations mission.  Many people in the field take on impossible loads of work and responsibility that would be handsomely rewarded were the projects producing a monetary profit instead of social good. However, the opportunity to know that one’s work is viewed both qualitatively and quantitatively as improving societal outcomes or contributing to development is a very positive externality, attracting people to the heavy workloads and sacrifices of small non-profits.

OYE is no exception. Like any great NGO, OYE funnels your generous donations as directly into its programs to empower at-risk Honduran youth as possible. In 2013 OYE operated with only three full-time staff members and one part-time accountant. In 2014 the team has changed just slightly, bring our account Carlos Galeas on board full-time (congrats Carlos!). With such a trim streamlined team how does OYE run a scholarship program, personal and professional capacity building classes, an art program, a sports program, a magazine program, a graphic design program, and a radio program?

The answer is very creatively. 

As OYE approaches the midway point of January 2014 it is midway through an iterative training process for new youth leaders. These leaders, or project coordinators, are the key to OYE’s ability to achieve so much with such a limited professional staff. So let’s take a look at how this works:

OYE has adopted a philosophy that permits our actions to be both a means to an end and an end in themselves. That is to say that OYE’s mission is to create socially conscious youth leaders that serve as agent of positive change in their communities, but to achieve that we must rely on OYE’s own socially conscious youth leaders, our youth coordinators. Patrick Ahern, a long time OYE volunteer, has affably dubbed these youth coordinators “Superbecados.”

Superbecados are the youth that demonstrate strong leadership qualities and a commitment to see OYE’s youth projects grow. We have been blessed with incredible Superbecados over the years like Yarli Yanez, Gerald Velasquez, and Fabiola Oro who have taken the Radio, Art, and Magazine projects to new astounding new heights.
In 2014 we are proud to introduce a new group of Superbecados. These are youth that have excelled as leaders and members of their respective projects. With no further ado OYE is proud to present OYE’s keys to success in 2014-its civic engagement project coordinators or Superbecados: 

  •  Sports – Erick Estrada and Heili Aguilar
  •  Revista Jovenes (magazine) – Fabiola Oro
  •  Design (Adobe) – Oscar Osorio
  •  Radio Ritmo Online – Heydi Reyes
  • Arte la Calle – Jefry  Yoel, Yosseth Pacheco, and Claudia Pavon 

Dunia, our Program Coordinator, has dedicated the month of January to developing the skills these youth will need to succeed as Superbecados. She has developed a comprehensive training program including modules of leadership, conflict resolution, assigning roles, developing profiles, OYE’s internal politics, and the development and administration of projects.

Stay tuned to see these Superbecados guide their projects into new uncharted waters expanding OYE’s impact and empowering other at-risk Honduran youth.