Tuesday, March 29, 2011

OYE wins a DISNEY Friends for Change Grant!

OYE received a $500 grant from Disney! OYE will be organizing a project to promote environmental protection, which includes not littering, a significant problem throughout Honduras. Stay posted for more information about OYE's project.

Friday, March 25, 2011


By Felicia Byrd, MBC Intern

In efforts to help fundraise and promte for OYE, Becados and the MBC interns gathered again in Mercedes Park to speak about OYE and to sell OYE shirts. While in the park, we did not sell any shirts but we spoke to a lot of people about OYE and its projects. It was a great way for the interns to spend more time with the Becados.

The projects reminded me of just how bad the economy is in Honduras. I was also reminded by César, a Becado at OYE, just how bad the economy was. I stopped counting how many times he said "they have no money." It's a reality that I experience each and every day here in El Progreso. Thank you Honduras!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Celebración de Las Mercedes

By Felicia Byrd (OYE Intern)

On yesterday, March 18, 2011, I hosted the very first celebration in the Mercedes Community located in El Progreso Honduras. This is the community that I and the three other volunteers from Mary Baldwin College (Suyapa a.k.a Shawnay, Susan a.k.a Shanee and Karina a.k.a A'ra) have been investigating. After a month of observing and interacting with the community as a part of my social work internship, I learned that they needed an event to unify them and to celebrate just how far they have come since Hurricane Mitch changed their lives and removed them from their previous homes. Throughout the research investigation, the community members complained of not knowing their neighbors and not spending time with others outside of their homes.

This is a picture of the community after the revealing of the community's new welcome sign. This was a gift from myself and OYE. It reads "Bienvenidos a La Comunidad las Mercedes...Juntos Podemos or 'Welcome to the Mercedes Community...Together We Can.'

With the help of Lizeth, the secretary of Las Mercedes, I helped recruit the youth in the community to put on performances. The youth range in age from 3-16. Juan Luis, a close companion of OYE, spoke about the the history of the community before presenting them with a 'welcome sign' put together by myself and Gerald, an OYE scholar. Of course the rest of OYE was in attendance. Some helped paint an 'M' on the faces of the children symbolizing Mercedes and others played in the grand finale soccer game against the soccer team in the Las Mercedes community.

After a performance

Punta Dance Contest

The Community Together for the very first time!!

The soccer game!! GOOOOO TEAMS!!

Johnny, a volunteer of Comvida, was the MC of the evening. His energy and compassion for helping others helped the event run smoothly. Thank you Johnny. He also helped OYE in the Soccer game against Las Mercedes Community.

Juan Luis presenting the history of the community.

The event was a huge success. Thank you to everyone who helped me make the celebration happen for the community.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

PHOTOS: Honduran school after JMU's visit

PHOTOS: Honduran school before JMU's visit

James Madison University Visits Honduras!

Ten James Madison University students visited OYE this week to learn more about the realities of Honduras and to take part in a community service project at the Escuela Urbana Profesor Edgardo Rivera.

JMU volunteers and intern Shawnay Mayers (aka Suyapa) after painting the Honduran school.

Two young boys from the community Primero de Marzo.

A brand new interior at a local Honduran school.

Young Honduran artist Jessica standing in front of her favorite painting at the school - a pink sea horse.

OYE co-founder Ana-Luisa Ahern photographing the JMU students in front of the completed school.

Student leaders Ashley Luebbers and Diana Gates and learning partner and professor Patsy Brevar, along with nine other students, took part in an intensive community service project to repair and repaint a school in the neighborhood known as Primero de Marzo. A building in the community that served as a school for many years was in a state of disrepair. The JMU group arrived and helped clean the walls, pick up the garbage in the schoolyard, and repaint the exterior and interior. They also added an artistic touch with murals, an alphabet, a multiplication table, and other paintings. The volunteers worked tirelessly, with some days lasting from 8:30am until 5:00pm. The community's President, David Castillo, was deeply appreciative of JMU's contribution and will be working with community members on repairing the school's floor and roof after JMU's departure.

The volunteers from JMU also visited Pro-Niño, an organization that provides a home, education, and support to Honduran street children, and the Nutrition Center, which treats malnourished children who are up to six months old and whose families cannot afford to feed them. In addition to taking part in the forum on the Honduran reality with American University students, the JMU students watched the movie Sin Nombres, which provides a glimpse into the realities of immigration to the United States, a perilous and costly voyage that millions have made and continue to make out of necessity, and youth gangs, which have become an alternative for youth in Central America who have little to turn to with respect to education, leadership, the arts, or other opportunities. The JMU volunteers walked away from the movie realizing how important the work of OYE is in providing youth with the means for education and a way to identify themselves as writers, artists, athletes, radio hosts, scholars, and young professionals rather than as criminals or gang members.

Many thanks to the volunteers of JMU for sharing their time, fantastic energy, generosity, and unwavering spirit. We look forward to the day when we can welcome them back as members of the OYE family.

Bienvenidos to Spring Break Volunteers!

OYE had the recent pleasure of hosting American University and James Madison University students from March 5-12, 2011. Both groups learned about Honduran education and the problems facing Honduran youth while taking part in community service projects with local youth groups and communities. Additionally, both groups made generous financial donations to OYE that will go to support OYE's scholars and programs. Be on the lookout for more specific blogs on each volunteer group!

Intern A'ra Alston with youth from Pro-Niño.

James Madison University students painting a school and community center in El Progreso.

Volunteers playing soccer with the youth from Pro-Niño.

American University students spending time with local youth.

James Madison University students eating baleadas at their final nightly reflection.

American University Visits Honduras!

This week OYE was happy to host 14 students from American University and their learning partner, Joe Otero, the father of OYE co-founder Justin Eldridge-Otero.

American University students attending the forum on the Honduran Reality.

Panelists from local schools and Comvida at the forum on the Honduran Reality, with translations by Ana-Luisa Ahern, OYE's co-founder.

Atol breakfast at the central market in Copan Ruinas.

American University students at Copan Ruinas.

American University students practicing yoga on an ancient Mayan pyramid, led by OYE's Communication and Volunteer Coordinator and yoga instructor Michael Solis.

The week started out with a trip to Copan Ruinas, where OYE staff, scholars, and American University students traveled to learn more about ancient Mayan culture, to explore the ruins, and to eat local Copan Ruinas cuisine at the central market. Afterwards, American University returned to Progreso where they learned about the reality of education in Honduras. They visited locals schools, including Chevez High School, La Perla de Ulua High School, Juan Ramon Morales Elementary School, Nortre Dame High School, and the Techological University of Honduras (UTH). The group also sat in on two forums, including one on the Honduran reality with guest speakers that included teachers, students, and UNICEF workers, as well as another with OYE youth scholars who shared their life stories and the impact that OYE has had on them and their families.

Perhaps the most exciting event of the week was the strike that American University students attended in the center of El Progreso. Thousands of Honduran students who attend public schools marched through the streets to the municipality to speak out against the government's proposed plan to privatize all public high schools with a new education law that is still in discussion. Students, teachers, and families have banded together throughout the country to protest educational privitization given that it would make education inaccessible to most youth who attend public schools.

In addition to visiting Pro-Niño, a local organization that provides a home and space for education to street children, the American University students also helped begin a logo painting project for the new OYE office. Soon the office will have its very own hand-painted logo.

Many thanks to American University for their visit, their energy, their dancing skills, and their generosity. We look forward to the next time we can host AU in Honduras, as they will always be a part of the OYE family.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ahern-Kerndt Visit to OYE in El Progreso

On Saturday, February 19th, OYE board chair Trish Ahern, her 87 year old mother, Pat Kerndt from Lansing, Iowa, her sister Gretchen Kerndt from Fairbanks, Alaska and Trish’s husband, Patrick Ahern visited the new OYE offices in El Progreso, Honduras. The new OYE office, which they are still moving into, is awesome!

They are in the same Eco Pasaje complex as the old offices, but they now have a stand-alone two story building that gives the needed space including a large plenary meeting place on the second floor and an ample conference/meeting room on the first floor. We were there on a Saturday, which is a training day and meeting day and the place was teeming with positive energy and enthusiasm. In the morning there were two groups in “self-esteem” workshops for scholarship students (becados) in 7th through 9th grades and in the afternoon there were another two workshops of the same for the high school and college becados.

Now the staff will be able to work in its own office-- which even has a reception area! At the same time there is a dedicated space and equipment for the becados working on the Jovenes magazine, another space for the sound studio of the radio program, room for the book club and study groups as well as the many other activities going on.

The visitors also spent time with the four Mary Baldwin Social Work students A’ra, Shawnay, Felicia and Shanee who are spending the semester at OYE. That evening the staff and the visitors had a wonderful dinner at Las Tejas in El Progreso.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Youth Leading Youth: OYE's Self-Esteem Classes

The training includes classes organized by OYE staff for the scholarship leaders of the radio, sports, visual arts, and magazine programs, as well as training sessions for each of the teams of students who make up these programs. More general training sessions are carried out with the scholarship recipients at large and cover topics like “What is OYE?”, “Self-Esteem,” “Sexuality,” “Personal Goals,” and “Family Disintegration,” among other topics.

In addition to preparing the scholarship recipients for future leadership within OYE, the capacity-building sessions seek to empower the individual, providing a means to address and discuss areas of insecurity that may influence the actions and emotions of the youth. While the discussions are led by OYE staff, who range from 21 to 28-years-old, the students play an active part in directing each of the training classes with their questions, comments, and observations.

This week's capacity building class focused on "Self-Esteem" and involved the scholars studying the characteristics of people with varying levels of self-esteem through improvised dramatizations, along with other activities.