Intensive Training opportunity through Let Girls Lead – Honduras


We are pleased to share a new opportunity in Honduras through Let Girls Lead. Let Girls Lead is requesting applications from leaders ages 16-60 to participate in an intensive training program that will strengthen capacity to implement strategies to improve health policy advocacy, human rights, and the social and economic well-being of adolescents. Let Girls Lead is looking for leaders who work in the following areas: human rights, sustainable development, sexual and reproductive health, youth development, micro-credit, public policy advocacy, lobbying, media, education, leadership, gender and other related areas.

The deadline to apply is June 5, 2015. For more information and to download an information sheet and the selection criteria, visit the website of Let Girls Lead:, or contact the Let Girls Lead Country Representative in Honduras, Vanessa Siliezar at

CAMY Fund Visit to ALAS/WINGS in Guatemala

Written by Emily Barcklow D’Amica, CAMY Fund Program Officer

On my recent trip to Guatemala I had the opportunity to see first-hand the work of ALAS/WINGS, one of the CAMY Fund’s grantees. Early in the morning on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 Michele Frix, SIF’s Director of Programs, and I headed off to Cobán in the northern state of Alta Verapaz.

Panoramic view of Cobán, Alta Verapaz.

We reached the city (population: 144,461) in the afternoon and headed to the WINGS office to meet their team. We knew Fidelia Chub, the project leader for the CAMY Fund, but had not yet met her colleagues: Kimberly Morales, Director of Programs, Dominga Torres Morales, who is a Peer Educator along with Fidelia, and Ana Iczep, who is a Health Promoter with the organization. The next day, Michele and I joined Kimberly and Fidelia on a visit to the nearby community of Tanchi in order to meet with some potential youth leaders and their mothers. Cobán’s streets quickly gave way as we bounced along a lush-green gravel road. The meeting was held inside the home of a WINGS health promoter, Doña Olga Chocoj, in a large room where she can meet privately with women and men from the community seeking out family planning methods. Four young women between the ages of 16 and 20 had been recruited by Doña Olga to participate in WINGS’ youth network. They were accompanied by two of their mothers who were there to learn more and give permission for them to participate in the network’s first training the following week. Fidelia spoke to the mothers and young women in their native Q’eqchi’, though the young women also spoke Spanish. She shared with them about WINGS’ mission, the upcoming training for peer educators, as well as the expectations for these youth leaders in their communities. The young women had been selected because they are all role models in their communities and are interested in working with their peers to increase their access to reproductive health services and reduce teen pregnancy.

Young women in Tanchi, Alta Verapaz selected to participate in WINGS’ youth network.

The young women timidly, but enthusiastically, shared about their interest in joining the network and participating in the upcoming training in Coban. They all had previous experience as peer educators with another local NGO that works to improve maternal health and promote girls’ empowerment.
While the rest of us ate sweet tamales and café prepared by our hostess, Fidelia carried out her standard supervisory visit in Q’eqchi’ with Doña Olga in order to review the monthly clinical records of community members who had sought out family planning services and refill her stock of contraceptive methods.

Fidelia and Doña Olga Chocoj review the patient records and contraceptive methods disseminated during the last month.

At the end of the visit we said goodbye to Doña Olga and the young women and their mothers, wishing them well at the upcoming training. Both Michele and I were deeply impressed by the level of organization and professionalism that Fidelia demonstrated. She seemed equally comfortable speaking with the young women who are only a couple of years younger than her, as with their mothers and Doña Olga. It was clear to us that Fidelia is not only a valuable member of the WINGS team, but also a recognized leader within her community.

Fidelia Chub, CAMY Fund project leader.

On Friday, March 13, Michele and I met with the WINGS team in their Antigua office. We spoke with the organization’s Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Bernarda Jimenez, also a former iLeap Fellow, as well as Shilpa Kothari, the organization’s Development Director. We appreciated learning about the past several years of WINGS’ work, how their organization has grown and developed, and their plans for the future.

The post-script to this entry is that a week later, back in Mexico City, Fidelia asked me to participate by Skype in the inauguration at the youth leaders training. The training was a great success, with 134 young people present from 61 communities in the municipalities of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Carcha, Cobán and Chisec.

Inauguration of youth training.

Congratulations to Fidelia and the WINGS team for their commitment to empowering young people through education, in Alta Verapaz and throughout Guatemala!


Scholarship and travel opportunity!

The Central American Section of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) sets aside money every year to fund two travel grants for scholars in Central America who would like to attend the annual conference. LASA especially encourages students to apply for these awards. To apply, please submit a C.V. and a cover letter describing your research, the paper you plan to present at the conference and financial need. The deadline to receive your application is February 13, 2015. The section officers will review the applications, and we will notify the winners in early March. If you receive a grant, you must then become a member of the Section (the cost is $10).

Please submit the required application materials to the co-chairs, Claudia Rueda ( and Sonja Wolf (  Please note, If you received a travel grant from LASA to attend this year’s conference, you are not eligible to apply for a section grant.


CAMY Fund Visit to Red + Posithiva

Written by Emily Barcklow D’Amica, CAMY Fund Program Officer

Last week I was in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico to see first-hand the work of the organization Red + Posithiva, one of the CAMY Fund grantee partners. Red + Posithiva’s project, “By bringing health closer, we can make better decisions,” is led by Antonio Ordoñez, who is 30 years old. Antonio is a clinical psychologist with a Masters in family therapy. He worked for various years for the governmental System for Comprehensive Family Development (DIF) in Cozumel, Quintana Roo and the project with Red + Posithiva is his first time working within a civil society organization.

On Tuesday, January 20, Red + Posithiva organized a press conference at the Hotel Oasis Smart to publicly present the project. On the presidium was Roberto Guzmán, Director of Red + Posithiva, Antonio, as the project leader, myself on behalf of the CAMY Fund and Yadira Chávez Courtois who is responsible for family planning within the Number 2 Health Jurisdiction. The media coverage (represented by Noticias Canal 10 and Novedades Quintana Roo) was good and the media that were present were open and curious about the project being presented.

The next day, January 21, Antonio and his co-workers and I left early for the community, Tres Reyes, on the western side of Cancun. The majority of the community is comprised of people from other states who have come to work in the Cancun tourist zone. The housing plots are irregular and quite precarious and public services are limited. Red + Posithiva had selected the local primary school, “Otilio Montaño,” as their contact with the community because of their important social role and capacity to convene inhabitants of the zone. The Directors of the school, Jorge Manuel Caamal Pecho in the morning rotation and Samuel Noé Coba Tun in the afternoon rotation, proved very open to the organization and committed to the project’s activities, which consist in offering cognitive-behavioral workshops to girls between the ages of 10-12 on sexual and reproductive health and rights, as well as youth-friendly services to them and their family members (sisters, mothers, etc.) by means of the organization’s mobile health unit.

Red + Posithiva’s mobile unit, ready to head off to the community. 1-21-15.

Once we had arrived and the Mobile Unit was set up the activities began with a small inaugural presentation where Roberto spoke again about the organization, Antonio about the project and I about the support provided by the Fund. The school’s Directors accompanied us and encouraged the participation of the family members present in the day’s activities. The event ended with a brief original rap song with a women’s empowerment message sung by two members of a local group.

Rap song sung at the end of the inaugural event in the community, Tres Reyes, Cancun. 1-21-15

Following, the youth-friendly services and workshops began. The services were provided by a psychologist that had recently finished a diploma course on how to provide them, organized by Red + Posithiva. Also, members of the Red + Posithiva team trained to provide rapid HIV tests offered this service.

Antonio, the project leader, speaks with the psychologist trained by Red + Posithiva on how to offer care to the list of people that had registered for counseling.

The workshops were designed by Antonio and provided by him along with other members of the Red + Posithiva team.

Antonio offers a workshop on violence and discrimination to girls at the primary school in Tres Reyes. 1-21-15

I greatly enjoyed seeing Antonio and Red + Posithiva in action! They were very creative in resolving the complications that inevitably arise in any project and are clearly very committed to providing high-quality information and services to the community. They have built alliances with the health and education sectors that could contribute to the sustainability of the project and a lasting change.

Congratulations to Antonio and Red + Posithiva!

SIF launches new fund to support adolescent health and education in Central America


SEATTLE — Seattle International Foundation announced today the launch of the Central America Youth Fund (CAYF), a new fund providing grant support to projects led by local young adult leaders (aged 18-35) in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Quintana Roo, Mexico.

CAYF will address many challenges faced by young people in Central America – particularly young women – such as high adolescent fertility rates, low secondary school completion, child marriage/early unions for girls, discriminatory gender attitudes and behaviors, and inadequate provision of reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education in schools.

CAYF will support young adult leaders in Central America to implement innovative projects within their organizations that are designed to demonstrate measurable impacts on girls’ equality and/or adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The fund seeks to invest more than $1 million over five years.

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An exchange trip: a journey of learning, a journey of change!


By Sandra Moncada Diaz, delegate of the 2013 Mujeres Adelante program.

In June 2013, I was nominated for an exchange program in Washington State, with the mission to strengthen and share knowledge about violence against women.

This meeting had and continues to have as its main objective, to create a network of women from Central American and the Dominican Republic, that work together to eradicate violence against women.

This program provided the opportunity to exchange knowledge and experiences about the situation of women in each country. This opportunity also allowed us to learn more about the US’s current situation of domestic violence, and their commitment to ending it. In Nicaragua “we see domestic violence as violence against women, its one more expression of violence against women”.

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Honduras, ranked last in pre-school and primary school coverage


Mario Cerna – According to the latest “State of the Region”, Honduras is ranked as the worst pre-school and primary school coverage in Central America.

Below is a translation of a recent article in For the original Spanish version, please click here.



The government of Porfirio Lobo Sosa has invested close to $89 billion Lempiras in education during his last administration; but, despite these efforts, Honduras ranks last in pre-school and primary school coverage.

The latest Central American “State of the Region” shows that since 2011, Honduras has occupied the last place in pre-school and primary school coverage.

Honduras holds 35.7 percent pre-school coverage, and 88 percent primary school coverage.

The educational authorities ensure those rates have risen since 2011. They estimate that in preschools, it has reached 45 percent, and 93 percent in primary school coverage. However, even with those new percentages, Honduras continues to be in the end of the queue.

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Formación Fénix: creating young leaders in Nicaragua


Melissa Vanessa Zuniga Perez, and Yoseling Acevedo Castillo are both part of the Formación Fénix program, a community-based project empowering young Nicaraguans through cultural environmental and educational leadership programming. Melissa is 18 years old and is the president of Formación Fénix. Yoseling is 17 years old and has recently joined the group. Melissa and Yoseling share below about their leadership experience with Formación Fénix.

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Gang truce in El Salvador translates peace model to Honduras


With an estimated 64,000 identified gang members, El Salvador’s street gangs – Mara Salvatrucha and their rival Barrio 18 – operate like armies. At its peak, in 2009, the gangs were responsible for a homicide rate that reached 14 deaths per day. In March 2012, however, the country’s two most violent gangs suddenly declared a truce. The truce is backed by the Catholic Church and the Organization of American States (OAS). A year later, the truce in El Salvador, one of the most violent countries in the Americas, is crumbling. A recent report shows a spike in homicide rate. The unprecedented truce helped bring murders down to an average of five per day from twelve before the agreement. However, killings have been on the rise since late May, with 103 murders in the first week of July alone. The level of dispersion of violence has stayed the same, and the decrease in homicides did not occur in all municipalities. In fact, in some areas the rates have increased.

Several Salvadoran municipalities have taken social reinsertion measures in order to promote a culture of peace. The Program of Temporary Support and Income (PATI) give at-risk youth, men and women financial incentive of $100 per month in exchange for a six-hour day of labor in their communities. The mayor of Ilopango and Quezaltepeque – the two municipalities most recently declared free of violence – affirmed that this program will benefit 67,400 people – including ex-gang members – in 36 municipalities around the country. Another municipality, Apopa, has declared zero homicides since the truce began.  In addition, President Mauricio Funes said $18 million would be spent creating cooperatives in the country’s peace zones; another $4.3 million will be invested in giving gang members access to education and $9.3 million to provide health care, and a final $798,000 will be spent on violence prevention measures.

The gang truce model has been adapted to other regions in the Northern Triangle. Honduras, with the highest murder rate in the world, is home to tens of thousands of transnational gang members, and nearly 40 percent of the cocaine consumed globally passes through its borders. Recently, the MS13 and Barrio 18 gangs declared a cease fire as a part of a ‘peace process’. MS13 and Barrio 18 leaders claim that these efforts are in attempt to “halt the spiraling drug violence and criminality they [gangs] have brought to the region” in exchange for rehabilitation programs and jobs provided by the government.

The Seattle International Foundation supports organizations in the region such as Organization for Youth Empowerment in Honduras, and Fundacion de la Comunicacion para el Desarrollo  in El Salvador providing leadership development opportunities for at-risk youth in response to high levels of organized crime and lack of educational and economic opportunities.

The Seattle International Foundation (SIF) is working with corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals to alleviate poverty in Central America. Since 2008, SIF has invested more than $7 million in organizations working for positive social change throughout the region. For more information about SIF, visit

Americas Quarterly Launches second annual Social Inclusion Index


Photo: Americas Quarterly

Washington D.C.  – On July 24, the America Society/Council of the Americas held a pre-publication briefing of the second annual Social Inclusion Index, to be released in summer issue of the Americas Quarterly.

The 2013 Social Inclusion Index evaluates 16 countries in the Western Hemisphere on access to public and private goods by race/ethnicity and gender, attitudes toward empowerment and government responsiveness, and the protection of basic civil, political, and human rights.

The Index adds three new variables and four additional countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama), as well as new data on race and gender pertaining to women’s rights, LGBT rights, and financial inclusion. The publication of the Index was supported in part by the Seattle International Foundation.

At the event, AS/COA leadership provided an overview of findings and analysis of results for women and LGBT rights, financial access, and comparison to homicide rates in Central America. A discussion followed, with input from regional experts from the Inter-America Development Bank (IDB) and The World Bank. Introductory Remarks were given by Mauricio Vivero, CEO of the Seattle International Foundation.

To view the webcast of the pre-publication briefing please click here.

The 2013 Social Inclusion Index will be available starting July 31 at .

For more information, visit

About the blog:
This blog was created to support the Central America Network and encourage dialogue around relevant research, news and poverty alleviation efforts in the region.
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