HONDURAS: At-Risk Youth Access Employment Skills Training at Salesian Vocational Training Center
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run Vocational Training Center in Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras, is committed to providing the training needed for disadvantaged youth to gain the social and trade skills needed for long-term employment. Salesian missionaries who operate the center conduct an initial socio-economical study of each student to collect key information on the socio-economic and the family situation. The goal is to better understand each student in order to assist them more effectively.
The majority of the youth who enter the Salesian center come from highly vulnerable areas where gangs and drug trafficking prevail. Most are at risk of social exclusion and vulnerable to exploitation and violence. Salesian educators go into these communities to meet with youth and their families. In the process, they too have been attacked and even threatened but note that the risks are worth helping youth to have hope for a better future.
“Going to students’ homes to meet with their families means reaching the heart of youth and seeing first-hand their reality, and their weaknesses, pain and concerns. It is getting to know who they really are and allowing us to better support and help them,” says Salesian Brother Oscar Pereira, who is in charge of the center and personally takes part in the visits to students’ homes.
Close to 250 youth attend the vocational center full-time for up to two years of technical and vocational training in key employment sectors. These sectors have been identified by companies that are working with the center to place students into work after they successfully complete their education. The center also has more than 1,000 students attending weekend courses in a variety of subjects, preparing for the workforce and improving upon skills while currently working.
“Through Salesian schools and vocational centers in Honduras, students are taking the first steps to rebuild their lives and their country,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Learning skills for employment, students are able to find jobs in high growth sectors that help them support themselves and their families.”
The second largest country in Central America, Honduras is one of the poorest and most crime-ridden countries in the Western Hemisphere with 60 percent of its population living in poverty, according to the World Bank. Rough geographic terrain in the country has limited the development of transportation, keeping much of the rural population isolated. Poverty and food scarcity are severe in rural areas and one out of every four Hondurans struggle with chronic malnutrition. In addition, one out of every five Hondurans lack access to adequate healthcare.
Salesian missionaries have been working in Honduras for more than 100 years operating schools, youth centers and medical clinics to help support and educate poor youth and their families. In addition, thanks to an ongoing partnership between Salesian Missions and Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now), an international relief organization that provides food and life‐saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable, thousands of people in need, from infants to seniors, are receiving crucial medical aid and nutritious food through Salesian programs in Honduras.
World Bank – Honduras