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Education is the Key - Graduation Day

December 2, 2013

Christian Commission for Development (CCD) in Tegucigalpa, Honduras in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Global Ministries provides vocational training for youth at risk of falling victim of drug and gang violence.  The youth CCD serves come from high risk urban neighborhoods such as La Era, where the CCD office is located.  Interestingly another high risk area is a neighborhood called, Los Estados Unidos (The United States.)  The story goes that Los Estados Unidos named themselves hoping to get special attention and privilege, in the form of cash, from the United States of America.  This hasn’t worked out to their expectation, but instead it has become one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city.  Let’s hope the influx of gang involvement wasn’t directly related to the name.  In this neighborhood, the pandillas, the gangs, rule.  Home invasions, theft and violence are commonplace. 

The youth who train at CCD earn certificates in welding, handicrafts, hair dressing, nail art, cooking, sewing and computers.  The courses run from one month to one year.  The training is free to the youth although they may have to purchase tools, supplies and transportation.  The youth who attend the training can be as young as fourteen years old. High school graduation is not a prerequisite. 

Carla Llasmin (prounounced Jasmine) Rosasel Carcamo (blue shirt) is fourteen years old and she is the third child in a family with four children.  Her father is a construction worker and her mother takes care of the home.   She walks 10 minutes to the learning center.  Walking can be dangerous and CCD recently moved facilities closer to the neighborhoods they were serving so young students avoid long walks or expensive bus rides.  Carla, whose mother calls her Jasmine,  was awarded a certificate in manualidades, handicrafts.  In this 50-hour course students learn to make practical and decorator items, from recycled materials and from fun foam.  The items are cute and creative.  For example, they make butterfly curtain tie backs and picture frames with themes such as birthday or graduation.  They also make signs and bulletin board art.  A very popular craft is piñata making.  Although piñatas are generally thought of as a Mexican tradition, people here in Honduras enjoy them as well. 

Lorem (pronounced Lor-AIM) Anahi Buezo Mejia (white shirt) is thirteen years old.  She likes Reggae music and dancing, but admits she’s too young to go to discos.  She dances in church or at home with her friends.  Lorem has many hopes and dreams for her future. She dreams of furthering her education, graduating from high school and traveling the world.  She is the fourth child in a family of five children.  Also living in her household is her grandmother, an aunt, three uncles, a niece and three cousins.  Ten family members in all live in her household.  She does not know the whereabouts of her father.  Her uncle is the wage earner in the family.  She walks five minutes to school each day.  Lorem earned a 50-hour certificate in handicrafts. 

Jose Alfredo Varela Cruz is called Fredo, pronounced FRAYED-o.  He is fifteen years old and is the fourth of six children.  His father is a welder and construction worker.  Fredo would like to get a job as a welder.  He completed a certificate in soldadura, welding.  He assures me he doesn’t currently have a girlfriend, although he doesn’t rule that out in the future. 

Dennis Omar Paz is an alumni and valued volunteer of CCD.  One of his responsibilities is walking from door to door to tell about the program and to recruit new students.  He says his presence builds confidence because he is a successful alumni.  He studied courses in welding, sewing and computer technology.  He showed us the computer lab with 12 new Dell computers complete with internet.  He also showed us the school’s two welding machines.  Full time work is almost impossible to find and start-up costs for business ownership are beyond his reach.  Dennis supports himself by doing welding when people call him.   Dennis is pictured here modeling the apron he made in sewing class on a treadle machine.   It’s not uncommon for men to earn a living by sewing. 

The gang and criminal activity in Tegucigalpa is alarming.  The homicide rate is 20 times that of the United States and it is estimated that 87% of the cocaine passes through Honduras on its way to markets in the United States.  It is good to be involved in an organization that is doing something to combat crime.

Don and Maryjane Westra serve in Honduras assigned to the Christian Commission for Development (CCD).

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