October 30, 2015
Justice is a daily struggle for many of the families that AJS works with.
In the community of La Cantera, rival gangs rack up their respective body counts vying for territory, while families who struggle for basic essentials — like access to water — make the most of whatever is available to them.
Lourdes and her husband live in this community with their six children. For years, they’ve used an old refrigerator flipped on its side to store water for bathing and washing their clothes. When water was scarce, the family simply had to forgo washing.
“I never thought we’d have a real pila,” said Lourdes, referring to the concrete water reservoirs common in Honduras for families to collect rainwater or city water — which is only rarely turned on in this community.
Lourdes’ neighborhood has essentially been neglected by government services. The houses are partially constructed of scavenged construction materials cobbled together.
Far more precarious than the houses in the community are the lives of the children growing up in them. That’s why AJS’s Impact Clubs are crucial to breaking the cycles of injustice happening in this community.
The clubs specifically target the most at-risk youth in the community and use a specially-designed curriculum to deal with the difficult daily realities these youth face — from domestic violence, to pressure from gangs to sexual abuse, and more. The clubs offer hope and new opportunities for these youth and teach them to be community leaders.
“The Impact Clubs help so much — if [children] don’t participate in them, here there are many bad influences,” Lourdes said. “Children can get involved in drugs, and the girls in prostitution.”
Impact Clubs also provide individualized psychological attention — plus legal attention, when needed.
Lourdes, who recently got her first job cleaning schools and parks, is also a graduate of AJS’s Strong Families Program, which teaches parents and children how to build stronger, healthier family bonds — bonds that are particularly important when violence and other threats are a constant presence.
This summer, Lourdes received an unexpected blessing through her relationship with AJS.
A Canadian group called Carpenteros and Friends asked AJS to use our personal relationships with community members to find families most in need of home improvement projects. Forty families were identified as being especially in need of projects.
Knowing about the living situation for Lourdes’ family and their difficulty storing water, AJS worked with the Carpenteros support to construct a pila for the family — a pila with the words “gift of God” painted on its front.
“We give thanks to God,” Lourdes said. “Because with my pila and its washboard, I can wash peacefully, my children can have clean clothes, and that’s why I wrote on my pila that it is a “gift of God” because God sent His angels to help me.”
AJS’s objective is to ensure that laws and systems in Honduras work properly to do justice for the poor and vulnerable. Our work fighting for justice in some of Honduras’ most dangerous communities has opened up relationships and given us unique knowledge regarding the challenges facing families in these communities.
We’re grateful to be able to partner with other organizations like the Carpenteros and Friends.