Saturday, March 12, 2011

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.

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