On International Volunteer Day 2012, Creative honors those who dedicate their time every day to help communities around the world find their voice and implement sustainable change. Read on for information about our youth programs against violence in Latin America and how volunteers are making a difference. Throughout the day, we will be posting words from a few of our thousands of youth volunteers about why volunteering is important to them.
The USAID Alianza Joven Regional (AJR) program works to reduce violence in Central America through support to the Central American Integration System (SICA), juvenile justice system reforms, as well as municipal and community-based crime prevention interventions in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. We work closely with community-based organizations such as Outreach Centers, Youth Clubs and advocacy organizations to engage youth as part of the solution to crime and violence. Creative is working with thousands of youth volunteers throughout Central America who provide tens of thousands of hours to training and mentoring peers in areas such as life skills, recreation and academic tutoring. Engaged as community leaders, community mobilizers, and outreach center staff, youth volunteers are encouraging their peers to partake in positive activities in their communities and take a stand against violence. Read on to learn about Creative’s Outreach Centers and Youth Movements.
What is an Outreach Center? The outreach centers, established with local public/private partners such as local municipalities and faith-based organizations, provide a safe haven for vulnerable youth, as well as opportunities in education, skills training and options for constructive use of free time. The OCs have also encouraged a new spirit of volunteerism, encouraging members of the community to actively engage in reclaiming their neighborhoods. Thousands of young people and hundreds of volunteers are already part of the Outreach Center effort in the northern triangle countries and Panama.
What is the Youth Movement against Violence? The Youth Movement against Violence initially surged in Guatemala in 2009 as a response to the need for a model involving youth in discussions around the current state of violence in the Central America that made the Central American governments accountable for a national public policy on the prevention of violence. Given the widespread success of the Movement, through the AJR program, Creative established chapters in El Salvador and Honduras. This year, the movement has formed chapters in Panama*, Costa Rica, Belize and Nicaragua. The movements from the seven Central American counties have joined forces, with the support of SICA to form the Central American Movement Against Violence.