November 20, 2015
The Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE), a Honduran nongovernmental organization, was honored November 19 at a reception at the home of Joe Eldridge and DAI Board Member Maria Otero. Earlier this week, OYE was presented with the International Spotlight Award in a White House ceremony with First Lady Michelle Obama.
OYE was the only international organization chosen for this prestigious award, which also provides $10,000 for program support. In 2011, the organization was the recipient of DAI’s inaugural Community Engagement award. DAI donated another $2,500 to OYE after it won the White House award.
Founded in 2005, OYE enables young people to have an education and a safe space to develop life skills, self esteem, and commitment to help create change in their country, rather than to flee north. OYE operates in El Progreso, Yoro, Honduras, one of the most violent and crime-ridden cities in the world, where youth gangs and drug trafficking thrive. Youths are the principal perpetrators and victims of violence. Honduras has one of the world’s highest rates of income inequality, with 60 percent of its population living below the national poverty line of $2 a day and 43 percent living below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Unemployment is widespread, especially among young people. More than 80,000 youths in Honduras neither study nor work. In this context, OYE provides at-risk youth with merit-based high school and university scholarships, and uses arts, sports, and community engagement initiatives to develop their leadership skills.
Jefry Amaya, an OYE scholar who participated in the White House ceremony, said, “OYE and Arte La Calle (street art) have influenced significantly who I am today and how I view the world. My philosophy is to never say ‘I can’t.’ I am not only more confident in myself, but believe in the importance of reaching out to youth in my community to discover their hidden talents and awaken within them a passion for art.”
Jefry received a scholarship from OYE at age 14 and has participated in OYE’s arts program since then. Today, 18 year-old Jefry is finishing his second year studying mathematics at the National Autonomous University in Honduras in San Pedro Sula. He is the first person in his family to attend the university.
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