Saturday, November 24, 2012

Reality and Literature

Today OYE's Circulo de Lectura interprets and applies the literature of Honduras' Ramon Amaya Amdor to present day Honduran reality.

Author Ramon Amaya Amador

Mr. Amador is famous for his social activism and analysis of Honduran reality and social injustice in the 1950s and 1960s. His journalistic efforts around the banana plantations, which he dubbed the Green Prison, culminated in the creation and publication of his most famous book Prision Verde. The book straddles the line between history and fiction-reporting and analysis. If one reads closely they may encounter the particular lens that Amador viewed the world through. That lens is the same that applies to his book Cipotes.

Cipotes - Kids

OYE's reading group, working with Program Coordinator Luis Paredes, selected this book because it addresses the reality of Honduran youth. Although it was written over 50 years ago and set in Tegucigalpa, the characters and the story are very relevant to the 12 OYE scholars. Without giving away any important details, the story follows the lives of Folofo and Catica-two children growing up with a single mother that shine shoes and sell newspapers to survive and support themselves.

Cover of Cipotes
As we dissect the themes of the novel, hands fly into the air drawing connections between the novel and present day Honduras. Why was Folofo shining shoes at 11 years old? For the same reason that we see 11 year olds juggling on every other corner of San Pedro Sula today. 

Folofo was selling the Diario and El Cronista in the 1950s and today El Tiempo and La Prensa depend on the same child labor to sell their product.

Responsibility and injustice are two important themes in the novel Cipotes that touch a live nerve in today's Honduran youth. Beyond the exploitation and necessity of youth the book and the scholars analyze the causes as well.

What are the causes? To begin with there is a lack of respect for law and institution. This is compounded by a lack of civil society to strengthen these institutions. Secondly, as a society, Hondurans needs to insist upon and implement a government that protects its citizens and not just its businesses. Finally, Honduras needs to provide opportunities to health, education, and just employment to all of its citizens.

"Muchas de las cosas que viven las personajes vivia mi madre" - Sandra
"My mother shared many of the experiences lived by the characters"  - Sandra
The novel was written over 50 years ago, but its themes and events are fresh in the memory of Honduras.
Despite the anachronisms the story could be taking place today in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro, or El Progreso. At the end of the exercise Luis leaves us all with this:
"Now we have to decide what we do and how we confront this reality. How can we each commit to make an impact in our own way?" - Luis
Whether exploitation and injustice is taking place here in Honduras  or in your own neighborhood, it is important that we all ask ourselves this question: How can we commit to making a positive impact in our community?

Arte La Calle 2012

Maybe it started with Ana Luisa Ahern or Justin Otero. Maybe Katherine Burdine, Eduardo Umanzor, and Michael Solis all contributed something to the program, but this, folks, is youth led, youth inspired, and youth produced.

Gerald, the scholarship student coordinating OYE's Art Program, put this video together to reflect on just two of the various murals these students realized in 2012. Keep your eyes peeled for Part II of the 2012 videography of Arte La Calle 2012.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Central American Youth Leadership Conference

What happens when young professionals from seven different youth leadership foundations come together?

Something great!

Standing Right to Left: Marisol, Gari, Lucy, Gladys
Below Right to Left: Samuel, Michele, Cesar, Hector

This past weekend OYE Honduras organized the Central American Youth Leadership Conference. Financing and organization for this event came from Michele Frix and Seattle International Foundation. The passion of Seattle International Foundation and Michele to empower Central American youth energized and drove the conference.

Organizations invited to the conference included Comunicandonos and Ashoka Central America from El Salvador, Global Visionaries and IncideJoven from Guatemala, Teensmart from Nicaragua, and tours truly OYE Honduras. Representatives from each organization made fast friends in Aeropuerto Internacional de El Salvador, where they serendipitously met. Hunched over laptops practicing their presentations many participants realized they were sitting within feet of each other, and after brief introductions the rest was history.

Conference members exchange contact information and plan future actions
 The five youth representing their NGOs and Michele did not waste time with formalities. By the time Sam, OYE’s Development Coordinator, picked the participants up from the San Pedro Sula Airport they were old friends.  Perhaps “old friends” is not the best choice of words as many of these same participants commented on how pleased they were to see such young representatives attending the conference. The average age of the conference could       not have been more than 25!

Beyond the immediate friendships formed, the conference highlighted many commonalities between the organizations. Before, after, and during the conference youth empowerment and development were discussed in depth.  Each NGO introduced its own expertise, knowledge, and experience to the conference. While it was inspiring to see the various ways different NGOs approached the theme of youth empowerment, the consistencies between NGOs was even more enlightening. Each NGO shared the powerful notion that our youth are not only the future but also the present, and so should be leaders not just tomorrow but today. The NGOs agreed that youth development needs to have communal support and a communal impact. Finally, a general conclusion from the conference suggests that youth development is an integrated process that involves formal education, personal development and space to express oneself. In light of this conviction, the NGOs involved place significant focus on art and communication projects.
Walter present's KM2 Solution's unique Corporate Social
Responsibility plan and Social Media tools

At a final reflection of the conference all representatives agreed that not only was it a fun event, but it planted an important seed for future collaboration. The first project that invites of Central American Youth Conference will realize together is a regional news bulletin.  Within the week we expect to have drafts of news updates and important development events from each of the participating NGOs. OYE’s magazine coordinator Jarly Yanez will synthesize the articles and design the regions first youth news bulletin. Each foundation is looking forward to pioneering this international network of youth development.

Find out more about the participants by viewing their sites:

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

All Applicants Welcome

November means applications galore.

OYE is in the process of disseminating applicants to El Progreso's community of at-risk youth for the upcoming 2013 year. Being part of OYE is a great opportunity for El Progreso's youth, and we are excited to offer 27 new scholarships for the upcoming year. That means 27 more students with the opportunity to pursue our program of integrated education, social service, and hands on learning.

OYE has always been blessed with incredible students. In fact, everyone that knows OYE always reflects on the quality and leadership of OYE's beneficiaries. I suppose in some sense we have to understand that as much as OYE's youth benefit from OYE's programs, OYE's programs equally benefit from its youth. The unique nature of youth ownership and involvement of youth in OYE's projects requires exceptional students to be successful.

To find exceptional youth, OYE has designed a three step application process. The process identifies at-risk Honduran youth with economic necessity, leadership qualities, and a desire to make a positive impact in the community.

  1. The first step is a simple application that includes personal information, household composition and income, and several short essay questions. Attached to the application are grades. OYE grades these applications on completeness, economic necessity, personal qualities as illustrated by essays, and grade point average (target 80% and above). 
  2. The second step is a personal interview conducted at the OYE office. Youth invited to this interview have the opportunity to further explain their case. The interviews have a basic structure, but allow the interviewing committee, composed of OYE staff and local leaders, to learn more about each individual taking them case by case. These interviews are also given a score.
  3. The third and final step is a home visit. The home visit allows OYE's interviewing committee to collaborate the information shared in the application and personal interview, meet the family, and explain to the requirements of OYE to both the student but the parents or guardian responsible. During this visit OYE has the opportunity to establish an important relationship potential scholars families. It is essential that the parents and guardians understand exactly what OYE consists of due to the time commitment required on weekends. This is an important step to ensure the economic necessity as much as verify the support of the family to ensure that if a scholarship is offered OYE will have the participation of the youth without conflict.
The process is long, but has proven effective. Every year OYE identifies new young leaders to empower. One thing is for sure, the demand for scholarships and leadership training far outweighs the number of scholarships that OYE can afford to offer. This year OYE will disseminate 200 applications, on top of the 45 re-applications for existing scholars. It is a shame that we can only accept 75.

Yarli and Fabiola inform the public about OYE Applications of Radio Progreso