Dear Richard and all of the supporters of the 18 Rabbits Project:
I am writing to extend our thanks from Honduras as we prepare to work with 18 Rabbits on this fascinating experiment in social media. As a small NGO with a very large mission, OYE can use all of the support it can to create positive social change from within Honduras’s booming youth generation. At this juncture in OYE’s history, we could not have come across a more innovative, creative, and inspiring opportunity, and we are forever grateful.
I am also writing to provide a local view of the current issues that Honduran youth face here every day. As many of you may know, Honduras remains the second poorest country in Central America. In 2007, 60% percent of households were living below the poverty line, with 35% in extreme poverty. Low economic resources affect students’ capacity to continue with their educations. In 2007, fewer than 30% of Honduran youth were registered at an educational center, with over 615,000 youth who neither worked nor studied. An estimated 97,000 youth drop out of high school each year to work to support their families.
“An estimated 97,000 youth drop out of high school each year to work to support their families.”
The question remains – what are those youth doing who are not working the formal market or studying? Unfortunately, we know the answer. Many are drawn to a negative life path, which includes drugs, violence, and criminal involvement. Youth commit the largest percentage of violent aggressions in Honduras, which places them at great risk of violent death. According to Casa Alianza, 2 youth die in Honduras every day as a result of violent death. Because of organized crime, Honduras ranks as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, who cannot express themselves freely without serious risk to their lives. More recently, CNN ranked San Pedro Sula as the world’s most dangerous city given it has the highest homicide rate per capita.
“Because of organized crime, Honduras ranks as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, who cannot express themselves freely without serious risk to their lives.”
The difficulties don’t stop there. Honduras places first in the region with the largest number of gang members who form part of approximately 112 different gangs. Youth participate in these gangs for a variety of reasons: disintegrated families, lack of employment, illiteracy, lack of self-esteem, the search for identity, the lack of recreation and sports, marginalization, economic inequality, alcohol consumption/drug use, frustrations with the educational system, being victims of abuse, and proceeding from families with a history of violence, among other factors. They seek stability in unstable places since they believe that is their only option.
This is where OYE comes in. Because the Honduran State’s response has not been sufficient enough to counter these devastating trends in violence, educational dropout, and unemployment, NGOs like OYE serve as ways to address and correct for issues that the state has not effectively controlled. OYE’s mission as a community-based, youth-led organization is to develop the leadership and capacity of at-risk Honduran youth who might otherwise be drawn to the negative life path. OYE’s integrated development approach combines formal education, youth capacity building, and community engagement through the arts, journalism, sports, and communications to inspire and equip young people with the awareness and skills they need to take control of their lives. Ultimately, OYE promotes the free expression of socially conscious youth who will emerge as the agents of positive change that our country so desperately needs.
“Ultimately, OYE promotes the free expression of socially conscious youth who will emerge as the agents of positive change that our country so desperately needs.”
We operate in El Progreso, Honduras’s third largest city, which sits in the shadow of the world’s most violent city. We carry on with our work because we know we have to. Otherwise our youth would just be more numbers in statistics that we as Hondurans are not proud to own. We, along with the youth we work with, believe that we can change the trends, one educated student and one impacted community at a time.
I hope that some of you have found this information useful, and we look forward to working with Richard and 18 Rabbits in a few days. Many thanks from everyone at OYE.
Director of OYE