Empowering girls in Honduras

Plan International, the Costa Foundation’s partner in Honduras, is relentless in their mission to advance children’s rights and equality for girls. Two students tell their story below, highlighting the impact both Plan and the Costa Foundation are making in rural Honduras.

Jennifer lives in the district of Chinacla and both her parents passed away when she was very young. She has two brothers, but does not have much contact with them. She grew up without a family to support her and, like many children in Honduras, this meant she had to drop out of school and try to earn money.

"From 12 years old I had to work by cooking and cleaning. I did try and go to school but it was very difficult for me. It was hard for me to pay school fees and when I could not pay them, I had to work every day so I wasn’t able to study. My life story might sound sad and difficult, but with hope, effort and dedication, things are changing.”

When the IHER centre opened in Chinacla it offered a learning opportunity for children who couldn’t access a secondary school education – often they lived too far away, couldn’t pay school fees, or had to work or look after family instead. Through IHER, girls like Jennifer now have the chance to continue their studies.

“Now I look after my cousin’s children and she is able to help me with expenses towards my education. One day I saw the IHER advertised and I went to meet the Principal. I told him about my situation and he motivated me. He told me that IHER could help me by providing books and lessons, for me that brought great happiness".

Now Jennifer attends IHER classes at the weekend and the lessons also help her develop skills for life. She has learnt about the importance of education, gender equality, team work and her contribution to the community. Students are encouraged to inspire others and Jennifer joined her Student Council where she was appointed President.

“I believe that education is important, I don't like to see girls of 11 and 12 working in homes. I try to share what I learn at IHER with my friends. We have many dreams, we just need the opportunities."

Like Jennifer, many students have to walk 3-4 hours to get to the IHER centre. This highlights just how limited options are for gaining a secondary school education in the area. "I feel the Government does not realise how difficult it is to get education in rural areas. If I had the opportunity of being Mayor, the first thing I would do is create scholarships for girls and children who want to overcome their challenges, but do not have enough money to further their education. My greatest dream is to be a civil engineer so that I can be an example for other people - despite my adversities. I have moved forward and I imagine designing and building houses and projects that can help people.”

Plan International is working closely with the local Government and coffee cooperative to provide education resources and support, so more girls like Jennifer can have the opportunity to finish their studies and fulfil their dreams. The road is not easy, but together it can be achieved.

Emily is President of the Las Pilas School council in La Paz. She is in Grade 4 and is 14 years old.

“Our facilities are now better and brighter and I am excited for the new computer room. Before the classrooms were in a bad condition with broken windows, holes in the walls, and there were not enough chairs – we had to sit on floor and write with our books on our laps. Now the school is nice and clean, we are motivated to go to school and we put in effort to keep the classrooms clean by organising a cleaning rota.

Maths is my favourite subject and I also now get to learn about family, friends, HIV, pregnancy and understanding that girls and boys should be treated equally. When I graduate, I want to be a teacher because I like to share knowledge with others.

I became President of the school council when each class had the chance to vote. I was afraid I wouldn’t do well, but now my confidence has grown. We received training and we developed a work plan for the year for the school. We presented this to Plan and the municipality - it covers issues like bullying, sports, cleaning and environment and hygiene. It makes me feel good because I can work with my friends to achieve things. We have learnt a lot and hope to do well for students and the school.

Thank you for supporting this school. In the beginning, some children said they were going to quit. Now we are proud and it is a nice place to learn.”

My greatest dream is to be a civil engineer so that I can be an example for other people – despite my adversities. I have moved forward and I imagine designing and building houses and projects that can help people.

Jennifer, student