- Lidia Esther Hoil PootLidia is a young indigenous leader who speaks Maya and Spanish, is deeply attached to her culture, and wishes to work for the betterment of women in her community. She has participated in trainings about youth leadership provided by the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples....
We at GOJoven are sad to share the news of the death of our treasured alumni fellow, colleague, and friend Octaciano (Chano) Banegas Galeas. Chano passed away on June 30, 2018 in Texas, as he journeyed from Honduras in search of a better life for himself and his family. To learn more about Chano’s story, read our blog post here.
In order to help Chano’s family with the high cost of returning his body home to Honduras, we have started this GoFundMe campaign and would appreciate any and all donations. The money raised will help Chano’s family pay off the bank debt they incurred to bring Chano home and pay him homage, as well as help his wife and four-year-old son to cover basic expenses as they recover from their loss.
Our hearts go out to Chano and his family. Thank you very much, on behalf of Chano’s family and community, for your contribution.
By Dunia Orellana, Journalist and GOJoven Alumnae, GOJoven Honduras
March 2018 – National Women’s History Month
Continuous thirteen-hour trips on dirt and gravel roads; discrimination; years of difficult academic studies far from the community where she was born. These were some of the barriers which Ivonne Miranda, GOJoven International Fellow and co-founder of GOJoven Honduras, had to deal with on her path to academic and professional success. She dreamt of achieving these things since her childhood growing up in the Garífuna community of Santa Fe, Colón.
Looking back, two events radically changed Ivonne’s life. The first was her ability to live and study for several years in La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula, without “following the pattern of life of the girls who go to the city.” Secondly, she believes that her work with GOJoven has led her to become a more self-confident woman who aspires to help her community and country through education and defense of the sexual and reproductive rights of vulnerable populations.
“Education changed my life”
Santa Fe, where Ivonne was born 34 years ago, is a community of Honduran Garífuna people who struggle to preserve their culture and beliefs despite the influence of cities and growing migration. She was uprooted there when her parents separated when she was only eight years old: “I was raised by my father’s aunt, but I spent one Christmas with my father and another with my mother,” Ivonne says.
Unlike many Garífuna girls, who face the dilemma of whether or not to continue their education, Ivonne was determined to continue on and work towards achieving her educational aspirations. She knew that to achieve her dreams she had to emigrate to the city, like every young adult in Santa Fe who yearns for a higher education. In Ivonne’s family, no woman had ever graduated from university before. One of her uncles eventually became an engineer, but she was essentially a first-generation college student, a pioneer of sorts.
Ivonne was 15 years old when she got off the bus in the city of La Ceiba, Atlántida, after thirteen hours of traveling on gravel roads, “with a suitcase full of dreams” and the desire to challenge fate. A few years later, she found herself working as a computer technician. “I liked computers,” she says, remembering with a smile the day she went to college for the first time, “but according to the tests, I wasn’t meant for a technical career. Rather, the results pointed me towards a career that involved interaction with people.” She challenged her luck again by studying Psychology.
“Education changed my life and significantly turned it around,” says Ivonne. As it turns out, it changed not only her life, but also her family’s. “My younger relatives are inspired by my sacrifice and perseverance to not give up on their own paths,” she says. (Her family follows her example well: both her cousin and sister are also psychologists). When she was studying at La Ceiba, she decided that she would only return to Santa Fe if she had a university degree. And she did not stop there: “In my family, I am the first to get a Master’s degree,” she adds proudly. Deciding to take yet another risk, she went to San Pedro Sula after completing her Master’s degree, where she faced discrimination from her teachers and the violence of a large city.
GOJoven marked her life and made her a leader
In her second job working with HIV-infected populations in a clinic for teenagers, the staff talked to Ivonne about the GOJoven Program. The program piqued her interest, and she decided to take part in a 10 minute interview that ended up being a 45 minute conversation. “I thought something was wrong,” remembers Ivonne. When they told her they saw her as a leader, she could not believe it. “I never saw myself that way,” she says.
“GOJoven marked me. It sensitized me, helped me to better address sexual and reproductive health, and funded my Master’s studies. It is a stage that marks a before and after in my life. With what I learned through GOJoven, I now help to influence the youth of my community.” Regular access to Santa Fe remains difficult, especially in the winter when the rivers’ water level rises and there is no bridge to cross, but the work of committed people like Ivonne helps to reduce the gap between youth and their right to information despite this challenge in reaching the population.
“Thanks to GOJoven, I became a leader in sexual and reproductive health. One of our projects was to create kiosks and host educational fairs where we gave young people information and distributed 11,000 condoms.” Her youth-focused work has also crossed national borders. Last year Ivonne traveled to Colombia to give a presentation on behalf of GOJoven. In Colombia, they were amazed to learn about her past thirteen-hour trips and that as a Garífuna with higher education, Ivonne was able to preserve her mother tongue.
Most recently, Ivonne was selected for the prestigious “120 Under 40: The New Generation of Leaders in Family Planning,” an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This global award recognizes and highlights Ivonne’s achievements as a member of the next generation of planning leaders from around the world. The selection process was very competitive: 40 winners were selected in 2017 through an electronic public voting system, evaluation by a jury of experts and leaders in the field, and approval from the Project Secretariat.
As an award-winning young leader, Ivonne received $ 1,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health to continue her family planning work and / or to start new innovative projects. With the prize money, Ivonne is funding a project to prevent school drop-out with the help of young people from the GOJoven platform. GOJoven International is committed to supporting Ivonne in this new international space, including for the execution of her Seed Fund award.
What lies ahead
“My dream?”, Ivonne pauses before affirming: “To continue working on sexual and reproductive health and sow that seed of knowledge in youth and in children. I dream that people understand that these problems do not solely belong to ‘others,’ because these issues concern everyone. We must all get involved. ”
This article is the second in a series of two articles produced by the author, Dunia Orellana, about the women leaders of GOJoven Honduras. It is a special series dedicated to National Women’s History Month, March 2018.
July 9, 2018 – Honduras
Here at GOJoven International we are profoundly sad to learn of the tragic death of our dear colleague and GOJoven Alumni Fellow, Octaciano (Chano) Banegas Galeas. Chano passed away on June 30, 2018, during the treacherous journey from Honduras in search of a better life for himself and his family.
Chano came from the small town of Tocoa, Colón, on the Atlantic coast of Honduras. In 2009 he became a Fellow of the Public Health Institute’s Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program (GOJoven International), joining alongside his peers from Belize, Mexico and Guatemala. During his fellowship, Chano designed and implemented the Leadership Action Plan (LAP) called “Pienso, Siento y Actúo, Colón” with the other young leaders on the Atlantic coast. Their project increased the knowledge of local youth and reduced the rate of teenage pregnancies in the intervention area. They trained 500 young people in sexual and reproductive health issues, and as a result no adolescent pregnancies were registered in any of the target communities during the LAP implementation. In 2013, together with other Fellows from the GOJoven Program, Chano founded the GOJoven Honduras Association and was part of the organization’s first Board of Directors (2013-2015). After finishing his term, he remained an active member of the organization’s General Assembly until today.
His academic background was in Business Administration and Management and Social Development. He actively participated in numerous social projects in Tocoa, including an environmentalist student group organized by the International Municipal Environmentalists, as well as a program that designed and implemented housing for the elderly, and the World Doctors. He proved to be an excellent young leader who worked for several non-governmental organizations in support of the health and economic wellbeing of women, youth, children and men; including the Adelante Foundation and its mission of empowering female entrepreneurs with the opportunity to obtain economic independence and self-sustainability through small business and education loans. He also worked at the Wánigu Organization – “Our People” in the Garífuna language – a business initiative that provides financial support and the opportunity to achieve a better quality of life to families that in turn promote the generation of financial, social and cultural assets. In his role as Wánigu’s Credit Officer, Chano supported the delivery of credit service projects in the Atlantic Coast of Honduras and the Department of Atlántida.
We always admired the energy, dedication and commitment shown by Chano to the people of his community with limited opportunities, including the Garifuna population, women, and young people and children. He was a talented young leader with a sense of curiosity and adventure; and wanted to do his part to transform his community, his society, his country and the region. It pains us to learn that, despite all his achievements and his deep commitment to his country, he faced the need to migrate to the United States to improve his economic opportunities and help support his family, and he tragically died in this dangerous trip.
We express our indignation with the persistent economic and social inequalities that deeply divide the United States and Central America, as well as our rejection of unjust U.S. economic and immigration laws and policies that contribute to these types of tragedies, predominantly affecting youth and families who migrate in search of a better future. With the premature death of Chano, the GOJoven family has lost a wonderful colleague, friend and leader. We will never forget him, and we will continue to work in his name to improve living conditions and economic and leadership opportunities for Honduran youth, women, children and men.
Rest in peace. We love you very much, Chano.
~Esther, Josie, Denise, Susanna, Angel, Julie and all the GOJoven Fellows from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico and Belize.
In order to help Chano’s family with the exorbitant cost of returning his body home to Honduras, we have started a GoFundMe campaign and would appreciate any and all donations. The money raised will help Chano’s family pay off the bank debt they incurred to bring his body home and pay him homage over the last three months, as well as help his wife and four-year-old son to cover basic expenses as they recover from their loss. Thank you very much, on behalf of Chano’s family and community, for your generosity and support.
GOJoven Mexico reinforces its leadership skills with a Training of Trainers (TOT) in the GOJoven Model
March 2018 —Playa del Carmen, México
A group of fourteen leaders and trainers of GOJoven México (México y Caribe Jovenes A.C.) met on March 18 and 19 in the city of Playa del Carmen to reinforce their training skills in a “Training of Trainers (TOT) in the GOJoven Model” workshop, hosted by GOJoven International, a program of the Public Health Institute (PHI).
Based on the GOJoven Model Training Curriculum, they worked on four thematic capacities identified as priorities of the GOJoven México team: (1) Effective communication, (2) Active listening, (3) Group management, and (4) Team integration. These represent four distinctive elements of the GOJoven Curriculum, out of a total of 51 sessions that are organized into three comprehensive modules. Each module covers diverse thematic sessions that align with the three key axes: Sexual and Reproductive Health, Program Planning, and Youth Leadership.
The TOT workshop lasted two full days, during which the participants successfully completed the theoretical and practical components, which are intimately integrated. For the theoretical component, the participants received a copy of the GOJoven Training Curriculum in which they studied the relevant modules and corresponding didactics, according to our distinctive methodology – participatory and interactive. For the practical component, the participants used the curriculum to prepare and deliver sessions as trainers, receive constructive and respectful feedback, and improve their effective training skills.
The group of participating youth leaders included eleven GOJoven graduates between 2006 and 2012, who were trained using the GOJoven Model taught by GOJoven International/PHI: Ricardo Jara (2011), who currently serves as Executive Director of GOJoven Mexico, Nicté Chablé (2007), Lemuel Vega Mena (2009), Jacinta Chan (2008), Wilma Esquivel (2007), Oscar Moreno (2006), José Correa (2011), Areli Sanchez (2011), Iris Borraz (2008), Silvia Muñoz (2006), and Candelaria Ay (2012). In addition, two alumni of the new generation of youth leaders trained directly by GOJoven Mexico when they replicated the GOJoven Model in 2015-2016 joined the workshop: Juan Diego Que Martinez and Aranza Beltrán. Daniela Santamaria, a staff member of the organization supporting various organizational functions, also participated.
The Master GOJoven Trainer, Ángel Martinez, and GOJoven International Program Director, Esther Tahrir, acted as facilitators. The TOT workshops are offered to GOJoven alumni as a mechanism to promote the replication of the country-level training model; the exercise in leadership and ownership of the GOJoven Model for the Fellows, having the opportunity to practice what they learned; and to foster generational leadership renewal by reaching new generations of adolescents with this innovative methodology for leadership training in the field of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Of the thirteen participants in this workshop with GOJoven México, four of them had already participated in the TOT workshops previously taught by GOJoven International/PHI, and for eight of them it was their first time to receive this certification from the program. Now, they are better equipped to continue advancing their organizational mission to promote the empowerment of adolescents and youth of Quintana Roo, México, to exercise their human rights, particularly their sexual and reproductive rights.
By Dunia Orellana, Journalist and GOJoven Alumnae, GOJoven Honduras
March 8, 2018 – International Women’s Day
Puerto Lempira, La Mosquitia, Honduras. In Honduras, we seldom hear about the work of indigenous women who struggle daily for the most vulnerable people in the country, risking their lives defending their community’s rights. One such woman is Griselda María Martinez, a Honduran leader seeking to change the history of La Mosquitia through her work as an activist and defender of human rights.
Coming from very humble origins, but with tenacity and unique strength that have kept her committed to her community and fight to defend other voiceless women, Griselda knows what it means to be resilient in one of the most inequitable departments of Honduras. She lives in Puerto Lempira, but gets around Gracias a Dios by walking, canoeing, boating, or flying to reach remote communities. She makes this effort in order to advance the human rights of the inhabitants of this community, to whom she affectionally refers to as “my people.”
“GOJoven prepared me for leadership”
Griselda joined the ranks of GOJoven International eight years ago with the dream of developing herself as a woman, professional, Miskita, and Honduran. Looking back, her dreams have been fulfilled – “Since joining GOJoven, my life has changed significantly, both personally and professionally,” says Griselda. “I learned to develop leadership skills I was not aware existed within me.”
Thanks to funding from GOJoven International, Public Health Institute (PHI) and the Summit Foundation, Griselda had the opportunity to continue studying with the Summit Scholarship Program (CIMA). For Griselda, as well as for hundreds of GOJoven members in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, the skills that they gained in the program have long-lasting, beneficial impact. Among other capacities, she learned how to facilitate interaction with people of all academic levels or social backgrounds. “I learned about active listening,” adds Griselda, “It’s important to listen before giving an answer.”
Over time, Griselda became one of the founders of the GOJoven Honduras Association, where she held the position of treasurer for five years. Along the way, she continued developing her personal and professional capcities in order to help others. She addressed each of the association’s challenges and learned how to handle the significance of leading GOJoven, where she has an often overwhelming amount of financial and human responsibility, without receiving pay. In her words, “We do it for the love of art, for youth, for our people.”
Among other benefits, her work with GOJoven has provided her the opportunity to lead the Puerto Lempira platform. Due to their work, the members of the platform have continued to support Griselda and have since integrated the Youth Sector Network. She has seen these groups of young scholars develop, and has worked closely with them to achieve goals meriting the approval of the GOJoven board. “It’s very motivating. We have come very far,” says Griselda with a smile.
The professional who returned to her roots
At GOJoven, Griselda discovered the strength, skills and motivation to continue developing as a professional. For four years she studied law in La Ceiba, where she graduated as a laywer and returned to La Mosquitia to defend the most vulnerable population.
Throughout her time studying law, Griselda was fortunate to receive the support of the National Commissioner for Human Rights (CONADEH) and her supervisor at the national level there, Roberto Herrera Cáceres. After finishing her studies in La Ceiba, where she was also supported by the Faculty of Law, Grisela was able to return to her work at CONADEH, where she now serves as departmental delegate for Gracias a Dios.
“The result of my preparation at GOJoven is satisfactory not only for CONADEH, where I have been an advocate and educator, but also for the people of Gracias a Dios, because we approach human rights with the indigenous perspective,” says Griselda.
Above all, Griselda wants the fruit of her work to benefit the most vulnerable people of Gracias a Dios, which are the women and indigenous population. “I am committed to my people, the Miskitos. There are always obstacles – in our patriarchal culture, for example, men do not like it when a woman leads an organization. However, we must continue forward, sharing knowledge and defending the rights to work, equal wages, and lives without discrimination by gender, ethnicity, language, or religion.”
Like every mother who wants to see her daughters grow up in a Honduras without inequality, where humans are duly respected, Griselda hopes to see her dreams fulfilled so that her five-year-old twins can live in a better country.
“My dream is that in each corner people know what their rights are,” says Griselda firmly, “most importantly their reproductive, political, and healthcare rights.”
One of her most dear professional aspirations is to obtain a Master’s degree in human, civil, or indigenous rights. Griselda does not seek this academic achievement for vanity or profit, but rather because she wants to acquire more knowledge in order to have more impact for her people’s rights. “I want to put what I’ve learned into practice because this department is multicultural. Tawahkas, Pech, Garífunas and Miskitos all live here, but there still exists a lot of discrimination, and as such the rights of the indigenous people are violated.” Even when she returned to her Miskito homeland to defend the voiceless, Griselda still remembered her roots in the association the gave her so many opportunities for personal development. “GOJoven is always in my heart,” she says fondly.
This article is the first in a series of two articles produced by the author, Dunia Orellana, about the women leaders of GOJoven Honduras. It is a special series dedicated to National Women’s History Month, March 2018.
Under the auspices of the World Bank and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI), Jinna Rosales as Executive Director of GOJoven Honduras and Bhupendra Sheoran as Executive Director of Youth+Tech+Health (YTH) attended the “Development Marketplace for Innovation on Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response” in Washington DC from April 16 to 20, 2018. In this high level event, they presented the new collaboration project ZonaSegura, which they will implement in Honduras with GOJoven International of PHI starting in June 2018 until December 2019.
ZonaSegura is a trauma-informed youth-centered innovative mobile solution to address teen dating violence in Honduras. Selected in February 2018, YTH in partnership with GOJoven Honduras and the GOJoven International program of the Public Health Institute (PHI) will begin to implement this project to prevent teen dating violence (TDV) through the provision of prevention information, healthy relationship education, and geo-location linkage to TDV services and resources. This new project will leverage the high rates of mobile phone usage among young women and girls (YWG) and men and boys (YMB) ages 14-19 in Honduras to assist them in overcoming individual and structural barriers to accessing rights-based and gender-sensitive TDV prevention information and services.
The “Development Marketplace for Innovation” was carried out in the framework of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group’s 2018 Spring Meetings in Washington DC. It included a full week of events that aimed to bring together and recognize the eleven winning project teams of the World Bank and SVRI’s open call for innovations in addressing gender-based violence prevention. More than 250 proposals from low and middle income countries were put forward for this call. The eleven winning teams hailed from Honduras (ZonaSegura), Colombia, Perú, Armenia, Camboya, Jordan, Kenya, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, and South Africa, with several innovative projects based on the theme (see here for the complete list).
The teams were publicly recognized in an Awards Ceremony on April 17, where speakers included World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and the World Bank Senior Director for Gender Caren Grown, among others. Bhupendra Sheoran (Executive Director of YTH) and Jinna Rosales (Executive Director of GOJoven Honduras) were present at the awards ceremony, and the dialogue panel spoke about ZonaSegura before an audience of over a hundred different donors and governmental and non-governmental parties. The video of the event is available on the event page and was registered on Twitter with the hashtag #GBVsolutions
The other collaboration events during the week sought to: foster working relationships and the exchange of technical knowledge among participants, strengthen key skills applied to innovation and gender-based violence prevention projects, and support south-south learning. Rosales and Sheoran participated in workshops on these objectives that addressed conceptual frameworks on gender, monitoring tools, and research and evaluation methods. In addition, they presented the concept of ZonaSegura to journalists and donors with a focus on the Central American region, as well as on the Marketplace Stand with a poster and through informal dialogue with interested parties. They strengthened partnerships with the OPS and regional representatives of the World Bank, agreeing on collaboration priorities and opportunities supporting the prevention of gender violence that affects youth and women.
At the Marketplace Stand, dozens of interested people from other civil society organizations around the world as well as technical organizations and donors came together, all interested in tackling the prevention of gender violence in a country like Honduras that already has extremely high rates of widespread violence. They were also interested in the diverse range of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues of adolescents and youth that GOJoven Honduras manages, an association whose approach extends beyond sexual violence and dating violence to encompass comprehensive sex education, access to contraceptive methods and emergency comprehension, and adolescent-friendly health services, among other fundamental pillars of positive youth development.
According to Jinna Rosales, “For GOJoven Honduras, ZonaSegura is a technological alternative for and from adolescents, and a tool that will boost their leadership to prevent dating violence. In this highly violent country, ZonaSegura is a challenge that seeks to become a reality and, in this way, increase the security of adolescents in the different localities of the country.”
By participating in this high level forum, GOJoven Honduras and its partner organizations equipped themselves with new tools – contacts, alliances, resources and visibility – that will strengthen ZonaSegura, both on the international and national scene, especially with only a few days until its launch in June 2018. To follow the project, become a fan of their Facebook pages: GOJoven Honduras, GOJoven International, and YTH.
GOBelize is pleased to share their News Bulletin highlighting their activities through January 2018.
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GOJoven International Director, Esther Tahrir, presented a new poster about the scale-up of GOJoven’s unique model of youth leadership development at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held on November 4-8, in Atlanta, Georgia.
The poster, titled “GOJoven: Scaling Up a Unique Model of Youth Leadership Development to Improve Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health“, lays out the program’s 13 years of history into two phases, and explains its core components, results and lessons learned, focusing on the scale-up efforts undertaken largely by the local in-country GOJoven Alumni Associations in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Quintana Roo, Mexico, since 2013. It was authored by Tahrir and her colleague Susanna Moore, Project Manager for GOJoven International.
The poster was featured alongside other global interventions and studies in a session about “Global Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights” on Sunday, November 5, 2017. Download the poster here to learn more!
September 26, 2017—World Contraception Day
Ivonne Miranda, M.A. in Psychology, alumna of GOJoven International and Co-founder and Trainer at the GOJoven Honduras Association since 2014, was selected for the 120 Under 40 Award: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders, an initiative sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. This global award recognizes and highlights Ivonne’s achievements as one of the next generation of family planning leaders worldwide.
Ivonne Miranda, a young Garifuna woman who was 25 when she became a GOJoven Fellow in 2009, is an active member of GOJoven Honduras, currently sitting on their Fiscal Oversight Committee and serving as Lead Trainer for the organization’s new youth platform in the department of Colon, on Honduras’ northern Caribbean coast. In leading the youth platform, Ivonne is building a cohort of 20 young sexual and reproductive health and rights leaders, ages 15-27, primarily mestizo, indigenous and Garifuna ethnicities, to spearhead local efforts that increase access to contraceptives and reduce the high rates of adolescent pregnancy in their municipalities. Previously, Ivonne worked for nearly 6 years in a comprehensive adolescent clinic at the Salvador Paredes Hospital in Trujillo, Honduras, providing contraception and HIV/AIDS counseling and explaining the correct use of contraceptive methods in a youth-friendly manner. Check out Ivonne’s 120 Under 40 nomination to learn more about what inspires and motivates her as a family planning leader and see photos of her in the field.
The 40 winners for 2017 were chosen through public online voting, scoring by a jury of experts and leaders in family planning, and the project secretariat. Each of the final 40 will receive $1,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health to continue their work in family planning and/or begin innovative new projects. GOJoven International is committed to supporting Ivonne in this new arena, including in the use of her seed fund award, which she aspires to invest in expanding access to contraceptive information and services for youth and adolescents in particularly hard-to-reach areas of Colón, Honduras.
The process took place for the first time in 2016, during which the Director of PHI’s Rise Up Program, Denise Dunning, was selected as 1 of the first 40 champions; 2017 is the second round; and 2019 is the final round. By 2020, 120 outstanding young family planning champions under 40 will be assembled – the year by which the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership aims to enable 120 million additional women and girls to access life-saving contraceptives and other reproductive health supplies.
“This second group of winners is as outstanding as the first,” says Jose “Oying” Rimon II, Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health and Chair of the 120 Under 40 Jury. “These young leaders are creating positive disruptions all over the world, and their impact will only grow stronger as they forge a new network with their fellow 120 Under 40 winners.”
July 13, 2017
GOJoven International deeply mourns the death of one of its alumni Fellows, Luis Joel Rivera Perdomo, who was also a member of Asociación GOJoven Honduras since it was created in 2013. Luis was murdered the night of July 12, 2017, a few meters from his home in the city of Tegucigalpa. According to information provided by his family, Luis Joel had received death threats in the recent past. We condemn his murder and demand that the Government of Honduras seek justice for this case. Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for minorities, including Human Rights Defenders.
Luis was a Fellow in our Youth Leadership in Sexual and Reproductive Health Program (GOJoven) in 2006, as part of a team of three young leaders representing Honduras. He was a Sociology student and member of the Board of the Sociology Student Association at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH, in Spanish). He also performed in theatre productions and worked as an event organizer. He was an excellent young leader who, since joining GOJoven, used art, advocacy, and capacity-building to fight for the Human Rights of youth in Honduras and Mesoamerica, particularly sexual and reproductive rights.
As a part of his life’s work, Luis founded and ran his own theater company, Sombra Roja, in which he used community theater to raise awareness about and promote HIV and gender-based violence prevention. He also used his company to give other young Hondurans an opportunity for advancement and activism.
Luis supported GOJoven International in training new young leaders in Honduras and to create our 10 year GOJoven Anniversary Video to share our message about GOJoven’s most significant impacts. We always admired his sense of humor, his service ethos, and his true creativity, vision and commitment to positive social change and justice. He was, without a doubt, a man of great courage and love for life and for others.
We deeply mourn the death of our friend and colleague, Luis Joel, and we will continue to fight in his name against the horrendous and tragic violence and injustice in his country. Yesterday our GOJoven family lost a dear brother. We will not forget our partner in this fight, Luis Joel. Rest in peace.