April 17, 2019
AJS’s impact clubs reach hundreds of children each year in some of Honduras’ most challenging communities. But our dream is even bigger – we want to equip other churches and organizations to use our methodology in their own communities, impacting children across Honduras to be peacemakers and agents of change. One of the principal leaders behind this replication movement has been Miriam Mondragon, who recently returned to her home country Sweden after nearly 14 years of work with AJS. While we will miss her in our Honduran office, the project she led is only just beginning.
Miriam has been a tireless supporter of AJS’s community programs since she joined the organization in 2005.
Seeing the pressures that children faced in Honduras’ most violent neighborhoods, a challenge weighed on her heart – “Who will reach these children first?” she asked herself, “The gangs, or the church?”
Through weekly youth impact clubs, AJS seeks to be the church in the lives of these children, keeping them from violence and creating opportunities in their lives.
Over the years, these impact clubs have provided mentoring, community service opportunities, life skills classes, and psychological care to over 1,000 children, some of whom now work at AJS. Miriam’s team also created “Strong Families,” workshops that equip parents and children to communicate better about love, boundaries, and discipline, challenging cycles of interfamilial violence. In her many years with AJS, Miriam led youth protection advocacy in many sectors, including improving conditions for youth in juvenile detention centers and for children who testify in court after surviving violent crimes.
Whether it was helping to pass new legislation or quietly arranging to provide uniforms and school supplies to AJS’s impact club children, her coworkers remember, “She always found a way.”
Though this work was often difficult, Miriam’s persistence and dedication led to many open doors. Even pastors or community leaders who were resistant to AJS’s work would find their minds changed after a phone call with Miriam! In the office, her coworkers remember her generosity, encouragement, and creativity. Leading worship at staff devotions, devoting long weekends to community work, praying with a colleague after a difficult day – Miriam not only did justice, she lived her life justly.
Miriam’s most recent position at AJS was the leader of a new team dedicated full-time to replicating our children and family programs. With new manuals and guides, Miriam and her team travel to churches and organizations to give them the tools and preparation to lead their own youth clubs and “Strong Families” programs. Now, new partnerships with the Catholic Church in Tegucigalpa, and the Church of God, one of Honduras’ largest denominations, promise to bring AJS’s programs to hundreds more children and offering even more opportunity for expansion in the future.
As Miriam’s work expanded from community interventions to advocacy to replication, so did AJS’s mission. Miriam exemplifies AJS’s powerful approach to change—caring for survivors of injustice while also working to strengthen government systems.