Women rights programming in community development

The training course “Women rights programming in community development” took place in Tegucigalpa & Siguatepeque, Honduras. Through a non-formal, intercultural & creative learning process, 20 youth workers & local leaders were equiped with knowledge and practical tools to: 1) undertake a women rights situation analysis; 2) design community-based projects through women rights-based approach;

We are happy to share some moments from the Training course in the video (© Esteban Benites)

Dangerous country to be a woman?

It is hard not to notice that Tegucigalpa is full of high walls and barbed-wire fences although during the daytime it does not look like something bad is happening. However, even on the arrival day we were noted to stay inside when it gets dark as it is not safe to walk in the streets at night. The training started with precautions. Everyone agreed to follow the rules.

This Central American country has one of the highest murder rates in the world. What are the reasons for that? Drug trafficking gangs, corruption, and extreme poverty are the most likely to cause such precedents. Some things are needed to know about the mentality of men in Honduras:

  • Machismo: attitudes of men being strong and unemotional, while women are vulnerable and needy.
  • Marianismo: a pattern of behaviour that is regarded as conforming to a traditional or archetypal female role; female submissiveness.
  • Femicides: the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender. Every 18 hours, a woman is killed in Honduras.

Participants of the Training course:

Domestic Violence happens every year: 20,000+ reports of domestic violence.
Sexual Abuses: every year, 30,000+ cases of rapes are reported in Honduras.
Sexual Harassment: especially can be seen in the streets, men can be whistling, saying expressions ti others women walking by, which are usually colloquial apparently attempting to flatter feminine beauty but with the seldom purpose of proving manhood to other men. This usually happens only when there is a group of men, not individually.

All of this is gradually changing and younger generations are turning away from the previous mindsets, however, the process of changing is slow.

Workshop for women in Aguas Saladas community

Workshop on sexual education for girls

Workshops with youth

Rita’s testimony

One time someone I admire and love very much asked me the following: “Rita, I apologize for the intrusive question, but does life make sense to you? I replied: “Of course.” Now I can say with certainty that I was born with an eternal purpose.  Just thinking that God chose me from before the foundation of the world makes me feel special; it makes me feel that everything I have lived, as hard as it has been, makes sense.

I was born in a common family. I lived with my dad, my mom, two brothers and three sisters. I’m the oldest. We were always poor, but united, until my dad became an alcoholic. My mom has always been a humble and struggling woman. The situation with respect to my dad worsened. Many times, my brothers and I had to witness my father abusing my mother when he had been drinking.  Life continued that way for a while. Eventually the time came when my mother left the house, taking my sisters and me with her.  We went to stay at a friend’s house. One day my mother was not there, my father arrived and took us back. We then lost communication with my mother.

Everything became so difficult. My dad kept drinking, and now my mother was gone. I assumed the responsibility of caring for my brothers as an older sister. I was just a little girl taking care of my siblings. I did my best. There were many nights when I thought “Why me?”. I wondered why I had to live suffering from my parents’ decisions. There was one night where I wished I hadn’t been born.

Due to all of the problems, my brothers and I turned to the streets as a form of survival and also to avoid the reality that we lived in our family. We spent all day on the streets. We asked for money outside some restaurants, my brothers shined shoes sometimes to get some money to feed us. We were running a lot of risks on the street, but in spite of everything we were always taking care of each other. Although we were looking for a way to have fun, as all children do, on many occasions we went hungry, we lived situations that we could hardly understand at our age.

But something changed the life of the Medina siblings and that was meeting some very special people who came into our lives at the time we most needed. We met Pastor Jeony Ordoñez, Pastor Jorge Pinto, his wife Martha and his whole family. They brought food to the streets. There was a beautiful connection. That is how we arrived at Project Manuelito, a ministry founded by Pastor Jorge Alberto Pinto Martínez, whom I now call Padre (Father). Since then our lives changed. We entered Manuelito with all of my siblings. That marked the beginning of many things.

We started studying. We were old for our grades so we studied with a system in which we could do two years in one. We no longer had to worry about food, because we had it there three times a day.  We were safe and we needn’t worry about daily living. The Lord Jesus began working in my life. There were many wounds to heal, I needed to forgive my parents. I let Jesus enter into my heart. I handed him everything I felt. I understood that to start a new life in him, I needed to forgive, and I did.

I finished studying in primary school. I still wasn’t sure what to study in high school. Since the I entered Manuelito, I began to serve in the different ministries of the church, among them, Sunday school. That’s why I decided to study to be a teacher.

I finished my years of studying and graduated as a Primary Education Teacher. Those three years of study, I had the opportunity to live in the house of Pastor Jorge and his wife, along with two other girls who also suffered difficult situations whom I consider my sisters. Together we have managed to get ahead. I learned so much from Pastor Jorge and his wife Martha, who from the first moment I arrived at Manuelito, have treated me like a daughter. They are some of the people I most admire and respect.

I graduated from Manuelito when I finished secondary education. Just before graduating Mauricio Flores and Helga Pinto told me, Maricela and Maribel that if we wanted, we could be part of the school staff that would open in Manuelito (in Talanga).  This was a very simple answer for us, and we all smiled greatly and said YES! That was the opportunity God had for our lives. We could use our profession in the place that had given us so much and it was wonderful to serve the Lord through teaching.

Since then I have served as a teacher in Manuelito. Since I started working, I also started university. I graduated with a degree in teaching Spanish. I traveled to the teaching university in Comayagua on weekends to study. I have been serving in this capacity for nine years at the school of ”Rev. Jorge Alberto Pinto. ”

I never could have imagined what awaited me. As a child I didn’t think my life made sense. I never thought about what the Lord had prepared. There were so many tears. Tears that turned into joy, peace, challenges, dreams. God in his infinite mercy called me from darkness to his marvelous light. He never abandoned me. Now I understand so many things and even more than that, I live with purpose because now I know that although my brothers and I went through so many adversities the Lord Jesus had a plan for our lives. My brothers also studied. One of them was supported by the Micah Project and graduated as a psychologist. We are all somehow meeting the goals we have set ourselves. But most importantly, we remain united. My three younger sisters live with me still.

We have repeatedly talked about the dreams we have. We want our generation to be different. We know that we will only be able to achieve that through our walk with the Lord.  We still communicate with our mother and we love and honor her because we understand that she also had a difficult childhood. (My father passed away a year ago.)

While at some point in my life I thought life was meaningless, here I am. Grateful to God for so many blessings. For so many people who have loved and supported me in this process. Without a doubt, there will come many challenges and decisions to make, but I am confident because I have the best friend and father; God. I will continue to serve the Lord wherever I am.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Visiting The Leadership Center

A project of Leadership Mission International, TLC exists to educate, train, and develop the next generation of ethical Honduran leaders!

The Leadership Center is a project of US-based NGO Leadership Mission International, and exists to provide full scholarships to young women from poor families who do not have the finances to study at another university. TLC offers a 3-year program that focuses on Leadership, Community Development, and Entrepreneurship. Our graduates return to their communities as business owners and ethical leaders in order to provide long-term, sustainable changes that will positively impact their communities for generations to come!

Participants not only had a chance to learn more about TLC, but also participated in a workshop about Community with second year students. Here you can see some moments from the workshop:

Harsh reality in the streets of Tegucigalpa

One of the most memorable experiences for all the participants was going out to the streets of Tegucigalpa to give away snacks to homeless people. We had a chance to do so only because of good heart of the Pastor working in the organisation „Manos Extendidos“ (eng.: Extended arms) who kindly invited us to join his mission. Volunteers from „Manos Extendidos“ goes to different places around Tegucigalpa every Wednesday and people already know them well.

When our van stopped, the driver beeped a few times and people started approaching us from every corner: children, teenagers, adults and some seniors could be seen coming from the darkness of the neighbourhood. We got off the van. To our big surprise, children invited us to play and it took just a few minutes to feel that friendly atmosphere. They taught us some street games and, of course, we all played football together. That was a moment of pure joy. We were surprise that the food we brought was not the most important thing for them – the connection, attention and friendship seemed to be much more valuable here.

Participants have also visited some other places that night, however, it was not such a nice experience as everyone saw a lot of women working in the streets, addicted people (most of them use glue because it is the cheapest way to get high) and very poor living conditions. We haven’t even got off the van in some places as it was not safe enough. After this night, everyone was going back home in silence. During a reflection time the next day people were sharing the feelings and thoughts that this experience provoked.


Discovering culture & nature of Honduras

Media about us:

#LrytasGYVAI iššūkiai ir pavojai Hondūre.

#LrytasGYVAI iššūkiai ir pavojai Hondūre. Studijoje vieši tarptautinių jaunimo projektų koordinatorė Ieva Sakalauskaitė ir Lrytas.tv reporteris Paulius Vaitekėnas. Kalbina Jorūnė Paužienė.

Posted by lrytas.lt on 2019 m. birželio 7 d., penktadienis