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Empowerment of rural women in South Sudan and Honduras

Health and Education, the great challenges for Honduras

Honduras is a very poor, independent republic of Central America. The constant floods that have struck it in recent years have worsened an economic situation, characterised by political instability due to numerous civil wars that have torn this land since it became independent in 1839. The Salesian Sisters have 8 centres in Honduras and one of these is at Ojojona. It is this experience at Ojojona that is being reported during the Conference.

Nutrition. This town is at risk from floods and drought, access to basic health services is almost inexistent, lack of food and drinking water make the people of this area some of the most marginalised. Besides, 30% of the young people in rural areas of Ojojona do not go to school because they are doing small jobs to make a living. In this context Vides international has set up a nutrition programme to support future generations. It provides for 40 mothers to commit themselves to the fields of grain and vegetables in order to feed their children and their families. The women are also involved in the preparation of meals at the school. At the weekend the FMA organise recreational activities at the school so that they will not miss meals because they are not at school. Thanks to loans, some women have also been able to buy a goat and thus they can earn some money to live on from the sale of milk.

Education. Since it is very difficult to continue one's studies in a situation of extreme poverty, the FMA have established an alternative education centre for young people who have interrupted their schooling. It consists of radio lessons that can be listened to at home or at the work place throughout the week. At the weekend the young people can go to the study centre for explanations on the lessons they heard on radio. Every three months they take an exam. There are 430 young people taking part and the diploma which is granted by the IHER (Institute of Honduras Education through Radio) is recognised by the Ministry for Education. The results so far give great hope: about 50% of the young people succeeded in going on to further studies the majority of the students of Ojojona and surrounding areas manage to receive education to the end of primary school and 30% of the students have found a job.

Health. Another critical issue for the community of Ojojona is the health system. AIDS is present especially among the young people and the scarcity of unpolluted water causes many health problems. The lack of health education also increases the risk of epidemics. For this reason Vides has planned monthly meetings on health with the families and with the young people. Every year a group of the young volunteers from the FMA schools of Tegucigalpa, also organise a Medical Camp where doctors and volunteers visit people free of charge.

Many areas of Honduras are like Ojojona and it is hoped to reach as many women as possible to offer them services of this kind.

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