This year’s team from Belize hails from Corozal, the northernmost district of the country, where much of the population is Spanish-speaking. While Corozal Community College provides a local opportunity for higher education, many students opt to study in Mexico because of its proximity and greater range of educational opportunities there. The only formal space for ASRH education in Corozal is through the Community and Parent Empowerment Program (COMPAR), which coordinates basic sexual and reproductive health presentations in middle schools in the district.
Esther Tahrir and 2008 Honduras Fellow Milena Cacho interviewed 30 candidates in the Department of Colon, in northeast Honduras, focusing on the primarily Ladino town of Tocoa and the predominantly Garifuna coastal town of Trujillo. This region has particularly high teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and unemployment rates, as well as high drug use and a lack of opportunities for youth. There is no local governmental youth organization, department, or youth-friendly SRH services, although there are a few youth and HIV/AIDS projects, run primarily by IHP’s IFPLP Alumni Fellows.
QUINTANA ROO, MEXICO
All of Mexico’s 2009 Fellows were selected from the island of Cozumel. In addition to the tourist industry, the population of Cozumel is also on the rise. Although there are several government-sponsored educational programs working on sexual and reproductive health at the local and national level, 40 percent of all births in Cozumel are still to adolescents between 15 and 19 years of age. Further, while some 80 percent of the overall population can name various methods of contraception, less than half report using any kind of method regularly.
The diverse and multi-sectoral team selected for this year is generally interested in working on both adolescent reproductive health and sustainable development, which are central to the future of Cozumel.