I wish you could hear the rain crashing down on my tin roof right now. It’s the first time it's rained for months and the wild noise makes me so happy – a sign that brown landscapes, smoky skies and relentless heat are coming to an end. Rain here brings renewal – and feels like the perfect way to celebrate moving from a difficult season into a season of renewal in Honduras.

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The clearest illustration of that renewal is the Honduran police. Two years ago, Carlos Hernández and Omar Rivera, both leaders at AJS-Honduras, joined six other brave 

people in an effort to transform the utterly corrupt Honduran police. Through careful investigation, perseverance and a lot of courage, the commission succeeded in removing 5,000 officers from a force of 13,000, including most of those at the highest level. Then 7,000 new, well-trained recruits joined the force – eager to show everyone how much things had changed.

Well, two years have passed and I can tell you that things have changed.

My Honduran friends have laughingly told me that you better not even think of bribing a police officer anymore, because they’ll probably arrest you. Another friend told me how she and her husband decided to call the new 911 service when shooting broke out in front of her house. They picked up the phone skeptically, but were absolutely thrilled when a police car showed up minutes later, “just like in the movies!”

These stories are so encouraging to me because they are signs that the police are not only beginning to respond as they should, but that people are beginning to feel the difference and trust in a new police force that is there to protect them.

Now we are hoping this success will encourage Hondurans to stand together for the next critical battle against corruption and violence: the election of a new Attorney General next month. In a country like Honduras, a brave, independent Attorney General is key to making sure criminals are investigated, prosecuted and imprisoned.  That means that the bad guys will do anything to make sure one of their guys gets the job.

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But the AJS-Honduras team is fighting back – holding citizen forums, creating informational videos and making it clear to everyone who will listen that the future of Honduras depends on electing a strong, capable, and trustworthy Attorney General.

A couple weeks ago, the head of the Church of God, one of the largest and most conservative denominations in Honduras met with Kurt and said, “Our youth have been praying and fasting for Honduras for years, but they want to do more.” We were thrilled!

Watching these young people take a stand for justice brought tears to our eyes.Yesterday, those same young people stood up at a forum and passionately explained why Hondurans need to fight to elect a strong Attorney General who loves Honduras.  

My neighborhood still isn’t completely safe and not everyone trusts the new police yet; but just as the first rainfall reminds us of things to come, these steps forward show us that transformation and justice can reign in Honduras.

As we continue this work of renewal, we want to invite you to support us in our work. Would you consider a gift to support a stronger justice system in Honduras? Together, we are working towards a better future for our neighborhood, for the police and for the people of Honduras.

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With our deepest gratitude,

Jo Ann Van Engen and Kurt Ver Beek
AJS Co-Founders

 

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From the Justice Journal

AJS began confronting community violence with a single investigator and a single lawyer, both of whom acted as trusted bridges between victims of violence and the judicial system, helping victims navigate the complicated path to justice. Individuals may not have trusted the police, but they grew to trust AJS, who knew them personally, supported them with emergency needs, and even prayed alongside them.

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Association for a More Just Society (AJS)
PO Box 888631
Grand Rapids, MI 49588

info@ajs-us.org

1 (800) 897-1135