Exchanging experiences and best practices in youth leadership was the motive for a meeting in El Progreso, Honduras, with different organizations from Central America working on the social impact of youth.
The meeting was organized by OYE Honduras with the support of Seattle International Foundation. “The idea came from Seattle, to unite all member institutions to provide stronger knowledge, strengthen relationships, and improve the work we are developing with the youth of Central America”, said Sam Rioux, Development Coordinator at OYE Honduras.
According to Marisol Fuentes, Executive Director of OYE, choosing their institution to host the conference was a challenge, because it was the first time they were part of an event of this magnitude. “We took the challenge and the result is palpable, all the organizations that participated left with a great experience,” said Fuentes.
The organizations invited to the conference were Ashoka Central America (El Salvador), Global Visionaries (Guatemala), Teensmart (Nicaragua), Incide Joven (Guatemala), and Fundación Comunicándonos (El Salvador).
For Gladis del Rosario Bonilla Mora, Teensmart representative, the experience was enriching. “Realizing that our cores are the same, with different activities, but we are directed towards the same goal; meaning, that youth are empowered and are able to do something for their community,” she said.
Gladis also added that her program works in four Central American countries and promotes two key issues: self-care and empowerment, through the model Grow to Be, which seeks to achieve understanding of their value as a guide for decision-making.
On the other hand, Lucy Luna, Director of Ashoka El Salvador, said her institution promotes social entrepreneurship as an alternative for young people who are at risk and can leave their vulnerable situation in which found.
In Guatemala’s case, the program run by Global Visionaries seeks to promote social and environmental justice through youth leadership and community service. “We believe that leadership is the action for social change, and community work is the praxis that makes us human,” said Cesar Vargas, Program Coordinator in Guatemala. Similary, IncideJoven aims to encourage young people to play a leading role in political issues and social oversight on sexual and reproductive rights, said Gari Tení, IncideJoven representative.
Fundación Comunicándonos seeks to strengthen the organization and leadership of youth through the promotion of a culture of peace and violence prevention. As an example, the project that they are running in the town of Guazapa, San Salvador, is training more than 100 young people on Communications, Information Technology, and Peaceful Conflict Resolution.
OYE Honduras is no exception in the field of youth work; their projects are aimed at developing a comprehensive profile of the young. “The radio and magazine projects work within the progreseña youth, who are the same young people who are empowered from their work to impact in one degree or another their community”, said Yanez Yarli, coordinator of OYE Youth Magazine.
The conference was rated as helpful by Michele Frix, Program Officer of the Seattle International Foundation. “We will write a newsletter as a group, where we will be discussing the work they do in their country, activities, trainings, or public policy focused on young people of Central America,” said Frix, as part of the agreements reached by the organizations at the end of the conference.