Honduran Armed Forces Encourage Youths through Outreach Program

Honduran Armed Forces Encourage Youths through Outreach Program

By Dialogo
February 09, 2015




The Honduran Armed Forces are once again signing up boys and girls for its social outreach youth program, "Guardians of the Nation," which is scheduled to resume on February 28.

As of early February, the program for children and teenagers in high-risk environments had enrolled 150 boys and girls, all children of workers in the city's crematorium. Through the initiative, Military officers promote positive values, such as patriotism, self-esteem, and a sense of responsibility to the community to youths between the ages of 7 and 18.

The goal of the program, which is scheduled to begin in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, is to provide juveniles skills they would otherwise not have access to and opportunities to become mentally, physically, and emotionally stronger.

“We want to strengthen their minds, their bodies, and their spirit,” says Colonel José Antonio Sánchez, spokesman for the Honduran Armed Forces.

Every Saturday, youngsters in the program meet at Military facilities and on various campuses of the Catholic University throughout the nation for three months. The program consists of classroom lectures, workshops, chats, and physical training. Health care and grooming services are provided to the children.

A collaborative effort


The classes and workshops are led by Military personnel as well as volunteer professionals, such as psychologists, teachers, and business people.

The Health Department, Evangelical and Catholic chaplains, and university students who partner with the Armed Forces to do social work also contribute their time and knowledge.

The Military also provides security and transportation for the children in the program.

“Parents are invited to participate in the day’s activities as well,” according to Col. Sánchez. “We need them. We believe their involvement makes the program even better.” Many mothers readily agree. They are provided with food and adequate spaces and resources to prepare snacks and meals for the participants in the day-long sessions. We don’t have to encourage them really, parents are eager for their children to join this program to begin with.”

Alba Luz Gonzáles is one of those parents. Three of her children participated in the Guardians of the Nation program in 2014.

“My 16-year-old son received training in welding, electricity, and shoe making. My daughter who is only 12 really enjoyed the sports activities," Gonzáles said. She and her kids live in a dangerous neighborhood, so the program provides a positive alternative for her kids to stay out of trouble.

Gonzáles's son puts the shoe-making skills he learned in Guardians of the Nation to use in his mother's shoe-making stand. "We depend on it," she said.

Assisting children who live in dangerous neighborhoods


Guardians of the Nation is designed to help children like the Gonzáles siblings, who are at-risk of being manipulated or threatened by gangs.

“Children who live in hot zones of the city are vulnerable, absolutely,” according to private security analyst Billy Joya. “Time and time again when police make arrests for extortion, just to illustrate this problem with one example, (the suspects) are minors. What does this tell you? That they are used by adults to commit felonies and larger crimes. These programs are needed to keep our young boys and girls from that type of manipulation and abuse.”

The program helps boys and girls develop the self-confidence they will need to resist criminal activity and opt for a positive lifestyle.

The self-assurance that many children who participate in Guardians of the Nation develop is one measure of the program's effectiveness, according to Colonel Elvin Corea, who leads the Logistic Support Command of the Armed Forces and hosts a group of kids on Saturdays.

“It is a hard thing for anybody to learn to trust oneself, but at the conclusion of the period, the children tell us they recognize themselves as valuable," Col. Corea said. "You see it in them, you hear it in their voices, that they walk away believing in themselves and believing they can have a better future. We try to make them aware that their youth is their biggest asset; it is rewarding to know they are aware of it themselves.”

“Last year we made arrangements to get scholarships for some kids, both to finish their basic schooling or in technical schools. This year we are aiming at getting at least 20 scholarships for kids who want to learn mechanics, electricity, or any other trade."

The Military created the program about 10 years ago, but it became inactive in 2009. Given its success and the increasing gang violence in the country, President Orlando Hernández relaunched the program in 2014. It was an opportunity to discourage minors from criminality and prevent organized crime groups from taking advantage of young people by recruiting or forcing them into criminal tendencies.

Helping young people achieve a better life


President Hernández framed the Military initiative within the context of “Vida Mejor,” a program to improve the quality of life for people who live in the country's poorest communities.

Many children in these neighborhoods drop out of school, but Guardians of the Nation encourages kids to complete their studies.

“In the groups, we always have kids who don’t attend school during the week, because their parents can’t afford to send them, or we have children that come from disintegrated homes, so Guardians of the Nation in some way fills these voids," Col. Sánchez said. "The kids receive comprehensive training on a wide range of areas, from technical instruction to Christian orientation, so they can become healthy, secure, responsible contributors to society as they grow up, and so they learn to make better choices for themselves.”

By the end of the year, the Armed Forces expects to serve 27,000 boys and girls nationwide through the program.

“Last year we trained 21,600 minors, but we are expecting to train many more," Col. Sánchez said. "The Catholic University has now come alongside to offer their six campuses around the country to be used for the program, rather than limit the activities to military bases.”

Edison David Pineda, a youth who took part in Guardians of the Nation, said his participation in the program was rewarding. “My experience with Guardians of the Nation was excellent. It has been a motivation to go forward," he said.



The Honduran Armed Forces are once again signing up boys and girls for its social outreach youth program, "Guardians of the Nation," which is scheduled to resume on February 28.

As of early February, the program for children and teenagers in high-risk environments had enrolled 150 boys and girls, all children of workers in the city's crematorium. Through the initiative, Military officers promote positive values, such as patriotism, self-esteem, and a sense of responsibility to the community to youths between the ages of 7 and 18.

The goal of the program, which is scheduled to begin in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, is to provide juveniles skills they would otherwise not have access to and opportunities to become mentally, physically, and emotionally stronger.

“We want to strengthen their minds, their bodies, and their spirit,” says Colonel José Antonio Sánchez, spokesman for the Honduran Armed Forces.

Every Saturday, youngsters in the program meet at Military facilities and on various campuses of the Catholic University throughout the nation for three months. The program consists of classroom lectures, workshops, chats, and physical training. Health care and grooming services are provided to the children.

A collaborative effort


The classes and workshops are led by Military personnel as well as volunteer professionals, such as psychologists, teachers, and business people.

The Health Department, Evangelical and Catholic chaplains, and university students who partner with the Armed Forces to do social work also contribute their time and knowledge.

The Military also provides security and transportation for the children in the program.

“Parents are invited to participate in the day’s activities as well,” according to Col. Sánchez. “We need them. We believe their involvement makes the program even better.” Many mothers readily agree. They are provided with food and adequate spaces and resources to prepare snacks and meals for the participants in the day-long sessions. We don’t have to encourage them really, parents are eager for their children to join this program to begin with.”

Alba Luz Gonzáles is one of those parents. Three of her children participated in the Guardians of the Nation program in 2014.

“My 16-year-old son received training in welding, electricity, and shoe making. My daughter who is only 12 really enjoyed the sports activities," Gonzáles said. She and her kids live in a dangerous neighborhood, so the program provides a positive alternative for her kids to stay out of trouble.

Gonzáles's son puts the shoe-making skills he learned in Guardians of the Nation to use in his mother's shoe-making stand. "We depend on it," she said.

Assisting children who live in dangerous neighborhoods


Guardians of the Nation is designed to help children like the Gonzáles siblings, who are at-risk of being manipulated or threatened by gangs.

“Children who live in hot zones of the city are vulnerable, absolutely,” according to private security analyst Billy Joya. “Time and time again when police make arrests for extortion, just to illustrate this problem with one example, (the suspects) are minors. What does this tell you? That they are used by adults to commit felonies and larger crimes. These programs are needed to keep our young boys and girls from that type of manipulation and abuse.”

The program helps boys and girls develop the self-confidence they will need to resist criminal activity and opt for a positive lifestyle.

The self-assurance that many children who participate in Guardians of the Nation develop is one measure of the program's effectiveness, according to Colonel Elvin Corea, who leads the Logistic Support Command of the Armed Forces and hosts a group of kids on Saturdays.

“It is a hard thing for anybody to learn to trust oneself, but at the conclusion of the period, the children tell us they recognize themselves as valuable," Col. Corea said. "You see it in them, you hear it in their voices, that they walk away believing in themselves and believing they can have a better future. We try to make them aware that their youth is their biggest asset; it is rewarding to know they are aware of it themselves.”

“Last year we made arrangements to get scholarships for some kids, both to finish their basic schooling or in technical schools. This year we are aiming at getting at least 20 scholarships for kids who want to learn mechanics, electricity, or any other trade."

The Military created the program about 10 years ago, but it became inactive in 2009. Given its success and the increasing gang violence in the country, President Orlando Hernández relaunched the program in 2014. It was an opportunity to discourage minors from criminality and prevent organized crime groups from taking advantage of young people by recruiting or forcing them into criminal tendencies.

Helping young people achieve a better life


President Hernández framed the Military initiative within the context of “Vida Mejor,” a program to improve the quality of life for people who live in the country's poorest communities.

Many children in these neighborhoods drop out of school, but Guardians of the Nation encourages kids to complete their studies.

“In the groups, we always have kids who don’t attend school during the week, because their parents can’t afford to send them, or we have children that come from disintegrated homes, so Guardians of the Nation in some way fills these voids," Col. Sánchez said. "The kids receive comprehensive training on a wide range of areas, from technical instruction to Christian orientation, so they can become healthy, secure, responsible contributors to society as they grow up, and so they learn to make better choices for themselves.”

By the end of the year, the Armed Forces expects to serve 27,000 boys and girls nationwide through the program.

“Last year we trained 21,600 minors, but we are expecting to train many more," Col. Sánchez said. "The Catholic University has now come alongside to offer their six campuses around the country to be used for the program, rather than limit the activities to military bases.”

Edison David Pineda, a youth who took part in Guardians of the Nation, said his participation in the program was rewarding. “My experience with Guardians of the Nation was excellent. It has been a motivation to go forward," he said.
A strong group of young people from the El Canton neighborhood wants to be included in that program. What needs to be done?? I would like to be a volunteer guardian of the homeland. I live in the city of Ceiba, how can I participate? i like this article alot how do i enrolled in the army
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