There are many reasons why a young person living in Honduras might feel unprepared to face life’s challenges. Marginalized, at-risk youth in high crime areas are not afforded the same opportunities as youth in other parts of the country. Unemployment is high in these areas compared to the national average, which hovers around 30 percent unemployment and 60 percent underemployment. Too many young men and women in Honduras cannot imagine a future where they become active wage-earning or self-employed members of society. Rather, many of them are contacted by gang recruiters who make their communal lifestyle and steady income (usually from illicit means) seem appealing. Living in gang-controlled neighborhoods, these youth are often targets of violence, extortion and abuse, and, in some cases, even death.
Wilian is a 21-year-old young man who lives alone in Villa Adela, a vulnerable community in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Wilian wants to study finance or sales at university but has had to put his dream on hold because, without a steady job, he cannot afford tuition. His family can’t provide financial support, either. Without full-time employment and a strong support system, Wilian has been tempted to leave Honduras several times in search of better economic opportunities.
Banyan Global leads the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Empleando Futuros (Employing Futures) project in Honduras, working to create more and better economic opportunities for Honduran youth in their home country while also working to decrease the levels of violence that contribute to instability and lack of access to sustained employment. The project targets at-risk youth living in the ten Honduran municipalities with the highest rates of violence and crime, as well as the highest migration rates.
According to a recent project survey, 24 percent of the youth entering the program expressed a desire to migrate within the next three years. Empleando Futuros provides Wilian and his peers with skills training, mentoring, and job placement support. At the same time, Empleando Futuros works with the private sector to identify where job opportunities exist for these young people and what qualifications, training, and skills are required for them to succeed. This labor market-driven approach ensures that youth have realistic, sustainable opportunities for employment, giving them a chance at a steady source of income and an improved quality of life.
For people like Wilian, that opportunity is enough to give them hope. After joining the Empleando Futuros program, Wilian was robbed while walking home from a local market. Although frustrated, Wilian did not let this setback discourage him. In the past, Wilian would have thought about giving up on Honduras, but now he remembers all the reasons to stay, which he attributes to the project.
“I’m in a project that supports many young people in Honduras, so that they do not belong to gangs or migrate to the United States. Projects like these must always exist.” – Wilian
Wilian is one of over 5,000 young people who have entered the Empleando Futuros program in Honduras since the project began three years ago. Through Banyan Global’s leadership and engagement with the private sector, thousands of youth have graduated and been placed into meaningful employment in Honduras. Wilian is currently undergoing customer service training to become a cashier.
With Empleando Futuros, Banyan Global has provided job opportunities for some of Honduras’ most vulnerable young people, giving them real and tangible opportunities for employment that lead to hope for a better future for themselves and their communities.