Honduras: Youth centers receive financial boost
San Pedro Sula, Honduras—President Juan Orlando Hernandez presented checks to 14 Youth Outreach Centers here as part of a new and innovative government initiative to use money confiscated from drug traffickers to support prevention programs.
During a March 20 event, President Hernandez handed out $2,750 to each of the 14 Outreach Centers in this industrial city from the Office for the Management of Impounded Assets. The event was attended by 200 community members, elected officials and representatives from the private sector.
The Youth Outreach Centers were developed by Creative Associates International’s Alianza Joven Honduras program, which is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Approximately 18,000 youth are served by 35 Outreach Centers in five Honduran cities.
The Alianza Joven Honduras’s Youth Outreach Centers are playing a critical role in the country’s efforts to prevent an increase of violence and crime, and the Office for the Management of Impounded Assets has been working with Creative to support the centers.
Pablo Maldonado, Creative’s Chief Operating Officer who attended the event, expressed his appreciation for the Honduran government’s contribution to the centers.
In addition to the financial benefit, Maldonado said the presidential support of the program triggers “a new modality of partnership with the host country government,” including new levels of cooperation with the Ministry of Security and local governments, and the opening of doors to other prerogatives, such as selected access to confiscated assets.
“We are cognizant that the federal government has limited Lempiras,” Maldonado said, referring to Honduras’s currency. “For the government to have considered Creative’s program worthy of its support speaks to the value and effectiveness of our prevention efforts. We are honored by the recognition.”
U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske, who also attended the ceremony, applauded President Hernandez’s fight against crime and his support for the Outreach Centers.
“For my government, the topic of crime and violence prevention is a priority,” U.S. Ambassador Kubiske said. “We are conscious of the importance of finding local solutions that can be converted to national responses.”
President Hernandez thanked the United States for its support of prevention programs in Honduras, particularly the Alianza Joven Honduras activities.
“We appreciate the support of [the U.S. Ambassador] and the people of the United States,” President Hernandez said. “We know that these good practices that we are implementing will help Honduras.”
The Honduran government’s funding will go directly to the Youth Outreach Centers and related municipal authorities, not Creative or USAID, said Salvador Stadthagen, who leads Creative’s program in Honduras.
The event was also attended by Vice Minister of Security in Prevention Alejandra Hernández, the Mayors of San Pedro Sula and Choloma and 160 other government and Outreach Center representatives from across Honduras.
Creative’s Alianza Joven Honduras program partners with municipal governments to empower youth, their families and communities to prevent and address violence in their neighborhoods.
The Honduran program deepens the achievements of the USAID Regional Youth Alliance Program, which established Outreach Centers in high violence communities in Guatemala, El Salvador and Panama from 2008 to 2011.
Alianza Joven Honduras uses outreach centers to counter identified risk factors that leave youth vulnerable to violence—like low-quality education and a lack of positive role models—and bolster protective factors like values, job training and academic reinforcement instead.
By operating microenterprises like small fitness centers, silk-screening shops and bakeries, the outreach centers not only provide vocational skills and confidence, but profits that make them self-sustaining.
Additional Honduran Support
Separately, the Honduran government is supporting the Youth Outreach Centers through a $1 million contribution, which will be disbursed during the next 12 months. The first installment of $400,000 was provided in February.
Honduras made financial commitments to Alianza Joven Honduras through an innovative security tax levied on the private sector, which also supports the program in grand scale. The $1 million contribution is being matched by the U.S. government at a 2:1 ratio.
The Committee of the Tax Security Trust Fund decided to support Creative’s program based on what it deemed a “successful” methodology of engaging youth in educational, vocational, recreational and other activities, according to the grant agreement. It wrote that additional funds would enable Alianza Joven Honduras to reach a larger number of beneficiaries with added and more diverse activities.
“This is a great accomplishment, and it is important to highlight the new administration’s willingness to cooperate with us in these efforts,” says Stadthagen. “The ultimate beneficiaries are youth, their families, and the communities they live in.”