Honduras, located in the heart of the Americas, remains one of the most violent places in the world for a child to live. Although there are no active wars or armed conflicts here, there’s an underlying war taking place in several of our communities: gang violence accounts for the death of at least one child every 22 hours.
For many of our youth and children, being part of a gang is a survival strategy in a highly aggressive environment. Having a gun, or being friends with someone who owns one, is equal to protection. Children and adolescents in several Hondurans communities tiptoe daily over the thin line between life and death.
But at World Vision we are determined to change the rules through showing and giving God’s love. In San Miguel, a community nested in the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras’ capital city, we are igniting the engine of hope through education.
Here, a group of teens have given up their weapons and drug smuggling – seeking a way out of gang life. They are enrolled by World Vision in training workshops to become mechanics, and obtain a safe means of income to support their family.
If there’s something that connects the vast majority of people in San Miguel, it’s poverty. Most children drop-out of school, limiting their opportunities for the future. When they look for a job out of town, they are often considered dangerous and therefore rejected.
“At the shop, we learn about pieces, how to refurbish, replace and fix the cars”, says Mauricio*. As they work on old cars to practice, Mauricio and his classmates become part of life-changing process for children who have been denied the chance of a bright future. They are presented with alternatives for livelihoods, and possibilities of personal development.
World Vision is now also hoping to multiply this effort and take it to other communities in Honduras where despair rules. By giving these young people a fresh start, we are providing a productive workforce and ensuring they are resilient and full of hope for a better future.
At World Vision we believe education and love can change kids’ lives. Here in Tegucigalpa, we are hoping that these kids restore not only broken cars, but broken lives and a damaged self-esteem. Many of those who join gangs are there to avenge the loss of a relative. Violence is a never-ending cycle that preys on children who only want acceptance and love.
We want to provide them with the willpower and opportunity to choose love, hard work and a future far from violence. It takes a world to end violence against children, and it’s thanks to the generous help of our supporters that we’re able to continue our work.
*Names have been changed to protect identity
Jorge Galeano is a practising Catholic and National Director of World Vision Honduras. Follow on Twitter @WorldVisionUK. Wish to comment on this story? Join the debate on Facebook and follow The Tablet on Twitter.