Thursday, November 28, 2013

Reflecting on House Visits: By María de los Ángeles Mejía

For OYE, 2013 has been a very different year, full of activities with becados and their projects, which have had a major outreach and impact in other youth of the community. Personally, one of the most anticipated activities for this year has been the selection process of new becados for 2014.  I think it's one of the most important and key activities to OYE as it gives us the opportunity to meet different types of youth with financial need, with desires for personal and academic growth and interest to participate and be part of our family.

As part of the selection process for new scholars, OYE´s team conducted a three-day "tour" of the city of El Progreso and surrounding area, visiting the families of the young applicants, in order to get to know their living conditions economic needs. All the visits were very revealing because in addition of learning the poverty statistics of Honduras published in reports; we saw firsthand the needs and the difficulties that families go through in order to provide food and education for their children and guarantee a decent life and future.

One of the applicants we visited was Mayly, a 15 year old, who is about to start high school. Thanks to her excellent academic performance and great financial need, she receives a scholarship to the bilingual school, where she is currently. However, the school is limited in size and does not offer high school education. In order to graduate, Mayly will need to find a new school. She aspires to study a Secretariado Bilingue in Notre Dame high school and is now pursuing a scholarship there. Her parents cannot afford this school because they are ambulatory vendors (especially of corn products), and their income is irregular. Their home provides the basics and does not even have a television. Mayly is forced to go to a nearby cybercafé cafe in order to do her homework.  Additionally, she is allergic to many things but her parents lack the resources to give a proper treatment. Despite all these conditions in which Mayly has to live, it is very inspiring to see how she did not give up and she gives the best of herself to be an exemplary student.

Next, we visited the home of Oscar (13) and Wendy (18), brother and sister applicants who live in the village of Guaymitas, on the road to Tela.  Both showed an excellent performance in the previous stages of the selection process, reflecting, in addition to good academic performance, attitudes of leadership and teamwork. They come from a poor family where the father works as a security guard in a maquila, where he receives hourly pay and no benefits, and the mother was also laid off from a factory. Their mother told us that they had been trying for four years to obtain scholarships through OYE, as they had heard of the organization but always missed the application deadline. They were very persistent and this year they achieved it.  Additionally, Oscar has a cyst on his nose, which is in treatment but has difficulty breathing and performing physical activities (such as playing soccer). If the family manages to gather the money for next year, they will operate on him. Both Oscar and Wendy are very excited to participate in OYE and the various programs it offers.

Our final visit of the day, struck and inspired me to continue working with and empowering more young scholars.  We visited the home of Willian a 17 year old currently studying his last year of middle school through distance education system EDUCATODOS. He currently lives in the village of El Congito technically jurisdiction of El Negrito, Yoro. It was a great ordeal and adventure to get there, since it’s on the top of the Mico Quemado mountain range, approximately 20kms from the highway. Willian had to walk down the mountain to greet us and guide us up to his home. This is very common for him as access to the community is very difficult, there are only two or three four wheel drive cars that go up there and have a high cost. We were lucky that at this time of year (strangely) it has not rained a lot and the road was not muddy, since otherwise we could not have come up (OYE’s car doesn’t have four wheel drive). Upon arriving to his home, we could see from above, the amazing view they have of the road and surroundings and we were fortunate to enjoy fresh air and a cool climate (a great contrast to the climate of El Progreso!).

We were greeted by Willian’s parents and had the interview outdoors. His mother told us that Willian is the only one in the family with an advanced level of education, as the rest of the family only studied up to sixth grade.  She also told us; how her son, with his strong desire to succeed, went for a short period to pick coffee in order to earn enough money to continue his studies. Willian wants to continue his high school studies and needs the scholarship to travel once a week to El Progreso and attend his classes under the distance education by radio system, since EDUCATODOS doesn’t have high school either. His family lives on subsistence agriculture.  At home, there’s no electricity and just a couple of years ago, thanks to the initiative and participation of Willian, his family received a latrine built by World Vision. At the end the day, his family was most generous and invited us to eat chicken soup and freshly made tortillas, using all the food they produce. It was a very overwhelming experience, and the generosity of the families we visited touched my heart they proved that material wealth and a big paycheck do not create happiness and community.

Through the life experiences of the scholarship candidates visited, we can see that there are still young people that despite economic and social difficulties they face, they are nonconformists and don’t blame their environment. Otherwise, we could see, that they and their families are good fighters and entrepreneurs and work to continue their education and achieve their goals. This is also a reflection of how the economic situation does not affect their academic performance, as all of these young people are very smart and proactive, eager to move on and to make significant changes in their community. This year, on the call for scholarships, OYE focused more on quality than quantity of applicants, so we had few candidates. However, I am more than satisfied with the quality of young people that we had the opportunity to meet and visit because I know that they will take full advantage of the scholarship that we will give them. I am very eager to start 2014 with a new generation of leaders working towards a better future.

1 comment:

Michael Solis said...

This is how the selection process is supposed to be done!! Felicidades Maria de los Angeles y tod@s en OYE! You are getting a great understanding of the needs of the youth in El Progreso. It speaks highly of the organization that the demand is so high among young people and their families to form part of OYE.