the OYE documentary

This is the story of four extraordinary young women. It’s easy to slip into hyperbole when writing an editorial like this, but “extraordinary” is the appropriate description. Occasionally you come across people who make a lasting impression on you, and that was the case with OYE scholars Neris, Rosa, Sandra, and Oriel during my three-week visit to the Organization for Youth Empowerment in El Progreso, Honduras.

Neris’ diminutive physical size (well under 5′) and infectious laugh belie her personal intensity and her desire to complete her education. Often in my travels, I see some pretty tragic circumstances. Neris, however, has a positive family environment and lives in one of the most beautiful areas that I’ve ever seen. Campo Monterrey is deep in the plantation region of Honduras. We drove an hour and a half through miles of banana, sugarcane, and palms (used to make palm oil) to her family’s modest home that is also a convenience store. Surrounded by tropical greenery, there is the sense of an idyllic family life. Nonetheless, attending public school is not a given in Honduras. It takes money, as well as transportation from the isolated community where Neris lives. Thanks to her family’s support and a scholarship from OYE, she is on her way to a business career.

Rosa is shy and unassuming, her voice cracking because she was a little nervous being interviewed. Due to her family’s economic circumstances, she was not planning on attending high school and was headed for a life of very limited opportunity. Thanks to her mother’s perseverance, and financial support from OYE, both Rosa and her brother are able to continue their education and break the cycle of poverty that is so common in Honduras. Rosa is very focused and is excelling in her studies. A rooster adds it’s voice to Rosa’s mom’s interview. One of the things I remember most about the trip is the daily chorus of rooster crows that started with one and then swept across the town for miles. You miss it when you leave El Progreso.

Sandra is a pragmatic realist who had considered leaving Honduras due to the lack of opportunity. I’ve conducted a lot of interviews with, and about youth who have been characterized as “at risk.” Sandra is the first student that I’ve ever heard discuss the stigma of such a characterization from her own viewpoint. Having witnessed much gang violence, she was tempted to just give up, but now she’s attending college and has a personal agenda of assisting her family to find a better life.

Oriel’s original posting on our blog was our most visited entry, and was shared all over the world. She is all sweetness and light. Her mother had passed away just a few weeks before our visit and she had assumed the responsibility of raising six younger siblings. Despite her grief and her newly acquired responsibilities, she had the time and energy to participate in an event to raise money to end hunger in Africa. The determination in her voice when she discusses setting an example for her siblings is very memorable, and I knew that it would be the last words of the documentary as soon as I recorded it. When you’re having a tough day, think about Oriel’s upbeat demeanor.

These four young women are just a few of the youth who are transforming their lives and their society through participation in the Organization for Youth Empowerment program. I hope you will find inspiration in their stories, hit the share buttons, and contribute financially to assist them in their important work.

-Richard Lakin

About Richard Lakin

Richard Lakin is the co-founder of 18 rabbits digital media. Named after the Mayan king (695-738 AD) who supported the arts during his reign in Central America, 18 rabbits digital media promotes social entrepreneurs, international development, educational institutions, NGOs, corporate social responsibility, non-profits, and community outreach projects through a strategic program of multimedia and internet distribution.
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13 Responses to the OYE documentary

  1. You have outdone yourself Richard. What a meaningful piece on the lives of four young women who have been truly impacted by an organization. These women have taken charge of their lives and now have the tools to carry on as strong, independent, and fully prepared individuals in a challenging context. I look forward to seeing the changes that they carry out in Honduras, and I hope you will be able to document it in the future. Amazing work, and many thanks for your unwavering support of OYE.

  2. Impressive blog. I like it.

  3. Amy says:

    This is so great! I feel so honored to have worked with such amazing people. Miss you guys everyday!!!

  4. Trish Ahern says:


    This is an amazing story of the impressive four young women scholarship students of OYE. Your work is so appreciated. As Michael says, hopefully there can be follow up documenting how these empowered young women change Honduras, so in need of change.

    • 18conejos says:

      That would be interesting…do a follow up on where they are in 3 years. There’s been a couple of documentaries that have tried to do something similar. One was in the UK but I can’t remember the name.

  5. Felicidades por su gran trabajo Richard, sabemos que en nuestro país enfrentamos problemas muy difíciles y siempre se destaca lo malo, pero con este documento se da a conoce a 4 jóvenes que a pesar de las adversidades han salido adelante, aferrándose a sus sueños y metas, y gracias a su entereza, compromiso y dinamismo, OYE les ha dado las herramientas necesarias para poder superarse y ser jóvenes con un presente positivo.
    Que este documento sirva de ejemplo para otros jóvenes con ganas de superarse.

  6. Adela says:

    Hello Richard,

    I’m running for OYE. I really love your piece! It is incredible to see all these young women fighting for a better future. I will make sure to propagate this video and maybe get some help. Really, really love your work!

    • Trish Ahern says:

      Isn’t your LONG Minnesota relay race4OYE next Saturday? We wish you all the best in that 200 mile relay and wish we could be there to cheer you on. What you are doing for OYE is really so much appreciated by us all. We need more good Midwest support of the work. We have little pockets in Lansing, Iowa, Chicago, Fond du Lac and Milwaukee, WI, and Hastings, MN. You are absolutely right that Richard Lakin’s documentary featuring the three young women who are OYE ‘becados’ is awesome and very inspiring. Hopefully we can have some showings of Richard’s work in Washington DC and Baltimore———-and maybe Minneapolis! Patrick was in El Progreso in June and cheered on a contingent of OYE becados, staff, and supporters in the San Pedro half marathon. He met the three women from the documentary and they truly are amazing—–and there are 60 more!

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