Archive for Margaret

Talk About It!!!!!! HIV Awareness Mural

What happens when you take 29 youth, 2 adults, 18 gallons of paint, one wall, one week and put them all together?  You guessed it, a mural. Add in lots of tropical sunshine, loads of sweat equity, tons of passion and commitment, and enormous amounts of spirit, and the mural becomes a work of art and a work for change.

The WYM HIV Mural is located on a long wall on the main road that circles the island.  It is in the island community of Flower’s Bay, where World Youth Movement is based.  In order to go almost anywhere on this side of the island you must go past this wall.  On a cruise ship day approximately 3,500 islanders and tourists pass this wall on their way to swim on this island’s beaches and snorkel the Meso-American reef.  This wall is a message from the heart of the youth to their community, words of positive encouragement for heartfelt challenge.

The youth’s message?  HIV is rampant in our community: we have the power to change that.  Our community is silent about this “sickness”: we are going to stand up and talk about it.  Our community has shunned many who are HIV positive or who have died from AIDS: we will honor them, and we will embrace those who are HIV positive in our communities, on our island.

One young mural painter said, “You know if we want to change the world, we have to change ourselves first.”  Those truthful words then went on the wall. As we were painting and talking about our message, the community was talking, too.

One of the main messages in the mural is ‘talk about it’.  If the wall makes you happy, talk about it, if the mural makes you angry, talk about it, if it makes you sad or confused or you just don’t get it, talk about it.  This wasn’t our first thought for a theme.  When the teens first got together and discussed ideas, our main themes were embracing HIV positive members in the community  (‘be careful who you hate, because it might be someone you love,’ and ‘HIV affects everyone’) and the theme of knowledge is power: respect/protect yourself.  But there were some, who as we were painting saw the statistic that approximately one out of ten islanders is HIV positive, and were outraged.  Things were said: You cannot write that.  Its not true (but it is), what will people say?  (maybe they’ll start talking about it, that’s our goal), you’ll make people angry! (Are you angry?  Lets talk about it.)  Talk about it became the abiding conclusion to everything that we were saying on the wall!  Everyday hundreds and hundreds of local islanders see the mural as they pass by on foot, bicycle, scooter, and vehicle.  Everyday new parts of the mural are being noticed.  Everyday someone is talking about HIV and AIDs in Roatan because of this mural.  Every day conversations are being had where silence once was.

World Youth Movement HIV Mural, Roatan, Honduras

Many have been silent because the stigma of being HIV positive here is horrible. Many have been ostracized, fired, abandoned, or beaten because of their HIV status. Just as there were those who were taken aback by the flagrancy of painting the truth on the mural there are also so many who walked by the wall as we were painting and said, “Thank you. Thank you for doing this.”

The dedication says, “This mural is for those we have lost and are still losing.” It’s for the youth who are being the change in their own communities. It’s for the power that comes to the youth when they are speaking out and speaking up.  It’s for the power that comes from accepting and honoring our neighbors.  The mural embodies youth empowerment.  In the end, that empowers others too.

World Youth Movement Life Planning Course

Description of World Youth Movement Life Planning Course

This week we congratulate the LPS graduating class of Coxen Hole ESBIR  Bilingual School!!

Before we get to the course, here’s a little FYI:

At Risk Youth can be defined as youth who are exposed to an environment of the five following categories: heightened violence, drugs/alcohol, high unemployment rates, leaving school without learning, early and risky sexual behaviors.

Youth at risk can then be organized into three different levels.

  • Level 1: Youth who are exposed but do not actively participate in the one of the five categories that define being at risk.
  • Level 2: Youth who are exposed and actively participate (by choice or not) in the five categories that define being at risk.
  • Level 3: Youth who are exposed and actively participate and are living with consequences of the five categories that define being at risk (using drugs/alcohol, teen pregnancy, HIV/STI infection, dropping out of school for one of the following reasons: to seek employment to help the family/lack of learning/lack of resources to attend, etc…)

Still with me????

The majority of the youth that WYM focuses on and works with can be found in Levels 2 and 3.

Quantitative data conducted by the World Bank on the LAC (Latin American Caribbean) region shows that of the 34% of young people who reported being sexually active82% of males and 52% of females reported having initiated sexual activity on or before the age of 13.

Early sexual initiation is also reported to be involuntary for most young people. In a recent population based survey in the Caribbean, nearly 50% of sexually active young women (ages 10-17) reported that their first sexual experience was “forced” or “somewhat forced”.  (UN Millennium Project 2005).

Of those youth reported to be sexually active, only 23% admitted to using a condom.

According to UNAIDS, Honduras currently holds the highest HIV rate in the LAC region, where the HIV rate is the second highest in the world (next to Sub-Saharan Africa).

With the current HIV rate at 1:9, and predicted to increase to 1:4 in the next decade, the need for proper sexual health education is not only needed but necessary for the population to continue.

Taking the above statistics into consideration, WYM shaped a program offering education in Sexual and Reproductive Health to help the youth make healthy decisions regarding personal relationships and sex.

The program works like this: WYM chooses a maximum of 20 co-ed youth to participate in the weekly 2 hour sessions for a total of 15 weeks. The youth are chosen based on need and risk.

Each week has a different theme. Some include: healthy communication, decision making skills, understanding values, risky behaviors, cultural expectations, gender roles and stereotypes, male/female anatomy, menstruation, healthy relationships, dating, love, condom use, rape/incest, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and testing, STI’s, resources for help, short term goals for the future, and long term goals for the future.

Each class offers an assortment of lecture, information, role-playing, activities, group discussion, journaling, guest speakers, and hands on demonstrations.

At the end of the 15 weeks, the students that graduate the Life Planning Skills Course are assessed, and then offered an opportunity to continue on to the Leadership Course if deemed to have leadership potential. These students will be trained to someday lead LPS Courses in their own communities, as well as offered additional opportunities to actively participate in the positive empowerment of youth in their communities through volunteering, coaching, board contributions, and other projects that directly give back to the future generation youth.

Grassroots Generosity

We are able to empower youth with boys and girls groups, literacy groups, and summer school because WYM has people like you who donate to this cause. If you’ve tried to donate and paypal isn’t working please donate directly to our Wells Fargo account 6197987677 under World Youth Movement. Sorry for any confusion and many thanks to those of you have made it possible for WYM to apply for 501c3 status.

Boys Without Male Mentors

Unfortunately in the community World Youth Movement serves, there is a lack of positive males for the boys to model their behavior after.  They are often expected to step up and take care of their family at a very young age, being thrown into a role that they have no idea how to fill and that they are not emotionally or intellectually ready for.  Some of the grown men that do reside in the community overexpose the boys to an environment of sex, drugs, and alcohol; the definition of a “man” becomes even more confused and blurry to the boys’ psyche.  When the boys first came and asked if they could have an empowerment group as well (Soul Sisters, the girl’s empowerment group had already been meeting),  they were asked to name one positive male in the community that could be contacted to run the group since it would be difficult for a woman to run a boys to men transition curriculum.  The boys spent two days thinking about it and came back with not one name.

The first week of Boy’s Group, I asked the following questions.  These are the responses  the boys gave verbatim:

1.)  What does it mean to be a man?

  • To take licks and keep getting up.
  • To stand up for your family.
  • To take care of your mom and your little sisters and brothers.
  • To work for your family.
  • Don’t back down.
  • Don’t be a fag.
  • Don’t be afraid of girls.
  • To kill.
  • To fight.
  • To mind your woman.
  • To make sure your woman never talks back to you.
  • To hit her in the mouth if she does.
  • To be serious.
  • To get cash.
  • To always be there for your mom.

2.)  Where did you learn how to be a man?

  • From my friends.
  • From my mom.
  • From the street.
  • From T.V.
  • From music.

3.)  Who do you look up to as a man?

  • Eminem
  • Drake
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Kobe Bryant
  • Lebron James
  • Lil Wayne
  • T.I.
  • T-Pain

4.)  What is something you are good at?

  • Learning
  • Basketball
  • Football and art
  • Cooking and making chicken pens
  • Rapping
  • Making people laugh
  • Baseball
  • Fixing things
  • Minding children

5.)  What makes you happy?

  • Girls
  • Girls
  • Everything
  • Drinking
  • Girls
  • Clowning somebody
  • Girls

6.)  What stresses you out?

  • Being clowned
  • Man beating woman
  • When my momma has a problem
  • When my mom gets beat
  • When my gram is fretting about money
  • When my mom has problems
  • The end of a chicken fight when my chicken loses

7.)  What is something that you wish you could do?

  • Play on the basketball team
  • Read
  • Get a job
  • Get all the money I want
  • Fly
  • Be invisible
  • Fight

8.)  What is one word that describes you?

  • Smart
  • Funny
  • Good at sports
  • Strong
  • Rapper
  • Responsible
  • Angry

World Youth Movement Peace Jam Documentary

Check out our Documentary that will be featured at Peace Jam this year to help raise awareness to the lack of health care we have on the Island, and a tribute to Dishorne’s life!!!!!!!!