The living conditions of children and young people in Central America and Mexico are often marked by violence, poverty and lack of prospects. Their participation in social decision-making processes is low. The majority have only attended six years of primary school and have therefore little prospect of a job afterwards. For most, the informal sector is the only way to earn money. Many try to immigrate to the USA to earn a living and improve the income of their families left behind. The youth promotion and violence prevention program, that AWO International has been running since 2007 in cooperation with local project organizations in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, aims to educate young people about their rights while also strengthening their participation.
In many project regions, the young people themselves are now actors: Not only do they actively participate in the community life, they also carry out their own projects. AWO International has been supporting youth initiatives in Central America and Mexico since 2013. The idea is quite simple: young people take charge of their own projects and are responsible for the execution and the implementation.
AWO International and its partner organizations advise and support thems. Since 2013, 38 youth initiatives in Central America and Mexico have been supported with funds collected at benefit events and thanks to donations from the Children and Youth Fund. The spectrum of youth initiatives ranges from alternative leisure activities to training measures and educational courses.
"In the remote communities, young people have hardly any prospects or space to develop or spend their leisure time. With these initiatives they manage to activate and motivate their peers. These are small but fine projects that the young people themselves carry out from start to finish. They also manage the project funds themselves."
All projects are made by young people - for young people. "The enthusiasm of the young people is contagious," says Luis Caldera, director of the project partner ADM in Nicaragua. ADM has been carrying out projects for young people in the rural district of Boaco for years.
In the Canton El Tigre in El Salvador, for example, a youth initiative of girls who pursue their passion - soccer - has come together. With the support of AWO International, the team was able to buy uniform jerseys and sports shorts to now participate as a team at tournaments. In a society marked by (sexual) violence, sport can sometimes be more effective than a theoretical educational seminar or sex education at school. The self-confidence of the girls is increased, they learn to defend themselves and at the decisive moment to find clear words and say "No!".
Another youth initiative takes us to San Raymundo in Guatemala, where the youth organization VIDAJOVEN is active. 40 percent of the population of the community are young people. Once a week in the afternoon they go to their different churches. Otherwise, there is no place where they can meet. They are needed at home to work in the fields or in the household. VIDAJOVEN offers young people the opportunity to continue their education. In small trainings, they learn how to make jewellery and how to start a small business with little financial means. After the training, the young people not only go home with many creative ideas, but also with a plan for their own financial foothold.
ADEJUCC is a youth organization based in Cantel, Western Guatemala. In recent years, the population has grown strongly due to high birth rates. This is due to a lack of sexual education and poorly equipped health stations, which even lack contraceptives. The organization has launched an initiative to train young people between the ages of 12 and 20. Here the young people learn about their rights in the field of sexuality and family planning. Where state institutions fail, young people can intervene. They learn to become community leaders and pass knowledge to their classes, siblings and colleagues at work.
|Project||From young people for young people: Support for youth initiatives|
|Place/Region||Central America and Mexico|
|Partner||Local organizations (since 2013: 38 youth initiatives)|
Youth affected by poverty and violence
|Budget||1.000 Euro/ youth initiative|
|Sponsor||Children and Youth Fund of AWO International|