Partner Spotlight: Orphan Helpers
Counseling to support justice-involved youth
In juvenile detention centers and vulnerable communities, Orphan Helpers works to support abandoned, at-risk and incarcerated youth with training and mentorship so they can set and reach their goals for the future.In Honduras, the USAID Proponte Más violence prevention program, implemented by Creative, partnered with Orphan Helpers on an innovative pilot program to reach youth in conflict with the law.
Through a grant, Orphan Helpers applied Proponte Más’ family counseling model to a group of 64 youth under 18 who had come into conflict with the law. The counseling works with the entire family over months to strengthen relationships and communication and build youth resilience to engaging with gangs or violence. In the case of youth at a “tertiary” risk level – those who had already been in conflict with the law – the counseling was also aimed at preventing recidivism.
Nahun Morales, who leads Orphan Helpers’ Honduras operations, said the grant was the organization’s first experience partnering with USAID and was an opportunity to build upon the work they were already doing with vulnerable youth.
“Improving our interventions was a fundamental part of what we were looking for, and Proponte Más was the partner that guided us and helped us grow in every area of the organization,” Morales said. “Proponte Más opened the door for us and worked with us through the process.”
“Proponte Más was the partner that guided us and helped us grow in every area of the organization”
Of the youth who participated in the pilot program, 80 percent have not reoffended. And with support from Orphan Helpers, several young people have managed to leave gangs that they were involved with, creating a fresh start for themselves and their families.
In addition, the work of Proponte Más has positioned Orphan Helpers as a go-to referral organization for youth exiting detention. With support from judges, public defenders and others who work with youth, the program has advocated for reducing the number of youth in detention and the use of “alternative measures” – similar to probation.
Judges now refer juvenile offenders to Orphan Helpers as an alternative to detention or a path to early release.
“We concluded this experience successful in every sense. We feel enriched technically and operationally,” Nahun said. “Proponte Más has offered a much more pointed intervention and positioned us as a referral organization for the population we work with.”