"I had many victories in my years with the police – I earned medals and diplomas, and many awards. But I don’t remember a single victim or witness ever thanking me for my work. With Peace and Justice, that has become the most important prize I could receive. I would rather receive the gratitude of one family than all the awards in the world.”

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.

Berta Cáceres was a remarkable activist dedicated to defending the vulnerable of Honduras. After her murder, AJS is supporting her family and seeking justice in her case. 

"We Hondurans are fed up with corruption. But to ask politicians to resolve the problem is like asking a football player to be the referee of his own team. The solution has to come from us."

3de3 campaign Honduras

“Who knows the story of David and Goliath?” asks Dolores Martinez, who coordinates AJS’s community engagement and auditing project. All twenty of the participants in plastic chairs arranged in a circle raise their hands. With the few small stones of advocacy, oversight, and accountability, she tells them, they can bring down the giant of corruption that is limiting the public education system in Honduras. 

teaching social auditing in schools

Through its three conferences, “Communities of Learning” brought civil society leaders of international prominence together to discuss topics important to Honduran society. Experts in the fight against corruption and impunity encouraged Honduran citizens to be involved and committed in the justice process of their country by supporting the justice system, demanding transparency from politicians and denouncing corruption.

AJS has spent nearly a decade working to protect children from sexual abuse, and seven years on making the public education system in Honduras more effective and transparent. Now a new initiative combines these goals, helping to strengthen the education system’s methods of receiving, processing, and responding to cases of sexual abuse in schools.

childs hands

When parents came to AJS saying their children's public school was demanding unnecessary fees, AJS helped the parents file a formal complaint, and accompanied inspectors from the Ministry of Education as they investigated. The Ministry of Education found sufficient evidence to suspend both the principal and the vice-principal, and name new authorities for the school. Now for these students, free, public education really is free. 

"We need to engage around topics like violence, education, and health care, we need to get involved. And if the message from Honduras is anything, it’s that we can learn about these things, we can change these things. It’s not as hard as we think.”

Omar Rivera speaks on the work of the police commission - "We knew that what we were doing was planting a seed that would have incredible fruit – peace and safety for more than eight million people. As we in the Commission and at AJS continue in this work, we hope that people around the world will be encouraged and challenged to get close to the problems in their own environments."

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The New York Times published an opinion piece by Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize winning author and also our good friend, about the problems facing Honduras. For those of us who love Honduras, it is not an easy read - but we have seen change and we remain hopeful.