Being a teenager in a rural area of Honduras is not easy. There are many risk factors for teen pregnancy. Honduran teens have many challenges and assume responsibilities that they should not be dealing at that age. Students tend to stop attending school at early ages, too. Only 31.7% of teens between 15-17 years old attend school. In rural areas like ours, the average is even lower.
A few years ago, one of the biggest causes of school dropout for girls was teen pregnancy. Every year the high schools in Limón county had 3-5 pregnant girls quit school. Working in the schools we noticed another trend. Girls were getting pregnant at younger and younger ages, and all were becoming single mothers.
Through the support of caring people like you, CHHF had hired me to work in community development. Together with the schools and the government clinic team, the Teenager Pregnancy Prevention Program began. You see, Honduras schools do not provide health education, but the schools in Limón recognized the importance. They have allowed our committee to provide monthly health education programs to students ages 11-19.
In time, boys got curious and wanted to come to the monthly meetings too. We start at the beginning with basic topics like personal hygiene, domestic violence, sexually transmitted infections and diseases, and contraceptives methods. With the time the students were asking about specific topics they want to learn.
The program is active and participatory. Student are always waiting and excited for classes with us every month. When see them downtown, they always greet us happily asking when the next meeting will be.
Providing students with health education is important. It helps them make good choices. Allowing health
professionals into the classroom also allows them to build relationships with other adults who can support them through their journey.
In 2019 we achieved our goal. There were 0 cases of teen pregnancy in the schools we were working. That is a huge advance.
I would like to share a little story with you.
To help build a good relationship with students, I often offer to help them with their English. One day, a 14 year-old-girl came to the office with questions about her homework. I answered her questions and helped her. When we were done she said she wanted to ask me something…personal.
This young, vulnerable girl, barely into her teens, bravely asked if I think it is correct for her to have sex with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend wanted to have sexual relations, she wanted to show him she loved him. She was so conflicted.
I shared with her a little bit about my own life and told her I got married at 24 years old and even there are moments that I truly believe I should wait a little longer. I explained to her this was a huge decision she has to real think about it before doing it because her life will change after it. It has to be her decision because she is the one that will deal
with the consequences.
About one year later, a lady came to my office. She wanted to say thank you because that conversation I had with her granddaughter had a positive effect on her. And I was very glad.
I always say if our acts impact positively, at least, one life, it is worth it.
We are happy to keep working with teenagers in our Limón County and help them to build a better future.
You can support Community Development by making a donation at www.chhf.org/donate-now. I cannot do it without you. You will be changing a life and giving hope.
God bless you,