The Outreach Centers: The lifeguard for children and youth originated in 2009 in the Rivera Hernández de San Pedro Sula

Outreach Center located in Rivera Hernández.

“If I had not reached the Outreach Center, I would have been in jail, dead or on drugs”

By Emelly Milla

San Pedro Sula, November 18, 2022.- Many young people who have felt marginalized in the Rivera Hernández sector or other communities in risk areas have gone to an outreach center (CDA) looking for a way to recreate themselves. What they find is much more than that, they show them the value of their person and help them understand that by preparing themselves in different fields they can have more opportunities to grow.

This is the case of Brayan Lozano, a shy young man who enjoyed parties, alcohol and drugs. He didn’t think about his future and the only offers he received were dishonest jobs. At the age of 19, he became interested in attending a gym. So he went to the CDA for more information. Here the doors were opened for him to start training. Brayan had the opportunity to observe the work that the volunteers were doing and he approached the coordinator of the center to learn more about the project. Given the interest that the young man showed in what he was doing, they offered him to be a volunteer and from there he began training.

“I was about to join a gang for ‘security.’ If he hadn’t made it to the Outreach Center, he’d be in jail, dead or on drugs. I have friends who are in prison because they found drugs or weapons and that was what awaited me”.

Now, Brayan is recognized in various communities around Rivera Hernández for the work he has done as a volunteer at the CDA. He has trained in various workshops, including photography. The latter gave him the opportunity to be the photographer for the events that the CDA organizes and he feels very grateful to the people at the Outreach Center for having seen the potential in him when no one else did, for having changed his perspective and helping him with a life plan

“Now I am a person who can talk to everyone, I have more friends and I can be an example in the community for other children. Several children have come up to me and tell me that they want to be like me. There are people who ask me: How did I get out of drugs? How did I quit alcohol and be different? That gives me enormous satisfaction, I feel proud of myself”.

The dawn of the Outreach Center

The Outreach Center for my Youth Neighborhood has benefited around 10,000 people since its foundation in 2009. The CDA located in Rivera Hernández was the first in Honduras.

Baptist Church, place where the CDA was initially installed.

This center had its opening inside the Baptist Church with Pastor Arnold Linares, now a member of the CDA, who played a fundamental role for the Outreach Centers to start in the country. He attended a meeting in a maquila located in Choloma to pray for young people who were leaving the gangs. There, three members of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) approached him to talk about the project. Pastor Linares took them to the church within his community, in Rivera Hernández, and he agreed with the project, so he went to San Salvador to learn more about the dynamics of the Centers, to receive training, and returned to install the Center. . “We had an incredible enrollment, more than 1,000 people,” recalls the pastor.

Because the space in the church was limited and many people wanted to be part of the CDA, they managed to reach an agreement with the municipality to provide them with a more accessible property for people. The location of the Baptist Church is further into the sector, so it was not accessible to everyone. Now, the CDA is in front of the Rivera Hernández park, where there is a bus stop.

Children’s play area

Inside the premises there is a play area equipped with board games, foosball and video games. There are musical instruments and signs with motivating messages for the people who attend. This area is mainly for the recreation of children, who come to play before or after their classes at school. Parents usually take them when they need to go to a workshop or train in the gym. While they train or train, the children play. Due to the insecurity of the sector, the volunteers have made the decision to take charge of picking up and dropping off the children at their homes if the father of the family cannot accompany them.

Computer lab

In this same recreational area, there is the cutting and sewing area. Since the space has become small, it must be reused.

There is also a computer lab where the youth is professionally trained with Microsoft programs. Here they are given school reinforcement. The machines are also available to anyone around the Center who needs access to the internet or a computer to do homework, all for free.

Within the CDA there is a soccer league and a taekwondo group created with the aim of attracting all those young people and children interested in practicing some sport.

Women training in different topics

In addition, the CDA has the EDUCATEH program, which gives youth and adults the opportunity to finish their secondary studies and complete their baccalaureate. This program is endorsed by the Ministry of Public Education. Classes are held on weekends as many students work. Around 1,500 young people have graduated, just in Rivera Hernández, since the program began. Currently, there are 40 people enrolled.

The CDA also offers the opportunity to its beneficiaries to take online workshops through the “Capacítate para el empleo” platform. This platform offers different courses that help people train and then apply for a job.

Classroom of beauty and barbering courses

There is a salon for the beauty shop and barber shop. “Young people have the chance to learn a workshop and then start a business,” says Sara Linares, coordinator of the CDA in Rivera Hernández.

Other workshops that are available are: electricity, welding, refrigeration, carpentry, English, computing, among others. The equipment and tools in the Center are donated by different institutions. The computers were donated by the government from 2014-2018, the building and the machines in the gym were donated by USAID. They have a kitchen for the pastry workshop where the equipment was donated by Lady Lee.

Not having a fixed donor, USAID helped with the implementation of a microenterprise in the CDA, which is the gym. The profits generated in the gym go towards the expenses of services, repairs or materials for the beneficiaries of the center.

The gym is equipped with various machines, mirrors and air-conditioned, just like the other areas within the CDA. According to the CDA partner, the microenterprise generates around 10,000 to 15,000 lempiras per month. The microenterprise is managed and run by young instructor Steven Aguirre, who was also a CDA beneficiary.

Rivera Hernández Outreach Center Gym

In 2014, Steven was looking for a job, but he didn’t get any opportunities. In 2015, he got a temporary job, but in the middle of that year, the doors were closed. “I had two options, find the street or find something else to do.”

In this way he comes to the CDA to recreate himself and with time he became a volunteer. Pastor Linares offered him a job at the center and in 2017, when the gym opened, he began training to help with exercise routines. He also took other workshops like barbering.

“It is a place of opportunities. I think that if they hadn’t opened up to me at that time, in a place like this, I don’t know what direction I would have taken”, says Steven.

The gym is available to all people who need it, if they are low-income or have diseases such as obesity, they are given the opportunity to use it free of charge at a set time. Its main objectives are to attract young people so that they are not exposed to social risk and to help the CDA financially. Around 65 to 70 people arrive daily and it is open from 7:00 am-11:00 am and then from 2:00 pm-8:00 pm.

Pastor Arnold Linares always interacts with children and youth

The CDA has become a benefactor to empower leaders. Since its founding, around 300 volunteers have passed through the center. “The volunteers are the heart of this program, they are the ones who sustain it,” said Pastor Linares. Usually, the same beneficiaries of the Centers are trained to later give their time as volunteers in the form of gratitude, trying to help children and young people in need.

From volunteer to entrepreneur

Mario Josué is a CDA’s success story

Mario Josué Santos came to CDA as a volunteer to teach carpentry. He started this profession at the age of 19, being self-taught.

In 2021, he was looking for a job, but no opportunity opened up for him because he did not have the experience that companies required. This led him to take a different tack with his woodworking hobby and turned it into a venture. His first job was a poster for a wedding “with some boards that said today the best part of our history begins, and that’s when I made myself known,” Mario recalls.

Mario Josué receives an award and a grant from the private sector for his venture

While at the CDA as a volunteer, he became aware of a contest run by the Terra Foundation together with the National Foundation for the Development of Honduras (FUNADEH) in which entrepreneurs compete for a cash prize to boost their business. He participated and won the “GENESIS Entrepreneur” award, placing first. Because of this contest, he received 50,000 lempiras with which he bought the work equipment to continue his venture under the name ‘Maderarte’.

Mario Josué with Kevin Rodríguez who is also another success story of the Outreach Center

Now, Mario is happy because he is loaded with work. They have commissioned tables, shelves, signs for weddings and baby showers, among other jobs. Whenever he gets the chance, he continues to volunteer at the CDA. If something needs to be fixed inside the Outreach Center, he takes care of it. Similarly, as a thank you, he donated a whiteboard to the CDA.

challenges to overcome

Although the CDA has been strategically located in a new location with more space, they have already fallen short of all the benefits they offer to the community. In total they have around 5 rooms which are divided into 2 or more sectors to give different workshops and classes. This has not stopped the work being done at the Center, but it has reduced the opportunities for young people who want to graduate or train in a shop.

“Right now we hope and ask God that there are people with a good heart who want to invest in projects like these, who want to donate and who know what is done and how we work to create opportunities for children, youth and adults,” said the coordinator of the CDA.

Sara Linares, coordinator of CDA Rivera Hernández

On the other hand, the CDA partner mentioned that another of the challenges is self-sustainability. The budget that the Outreach Centers have is minimal, compared to what they offer and to the people benefited. In the same way, the maintenance and payment to the coordinators is a need that is not always completely solved. “We are looking for a budget with the government so that they give us resources to continue doing this work,” said Pastor Linares.

A place designed to train you

The CDA is surrounded by around 100 neighborhoods and neighborhoods where many young people and children are easy targets for gangs. Activities such as “Happy Streets” practicing and promoting Traditional Games, are created to socialize what is done within the center, let everyone know that the Center offers free help and is available to young people, children and adults who want to take advantage of their time learning.

“When people are trained, the vision grows. In our sectors, people often lack vision, they only think of working for others. Within the Outreach Center, they are trained to work for themselves. Preparation brings blessing”, says Sara.

The CDA carries out various activities in the streets of the nearby communities to publicize its work, such as the community cinema. Its objective is to attract young people and children and let them know that there is a place where they can recreate themselves and, at the same time, grow mentally.

“In my childhood we did not have this. I could not be in a space where I was invited to play, in a safe space. Many of my friends didn’t have the opportunity either and because of that they decided to join a gang because they were given more “opportunities” in those places,” said Sara Linares, who has lived near the Rivera Hernández sector since she was very young.

Within the center they offer psychological help and counseling for parents, young people and children. They also offer value talks. In this month of November, they have an activity called “16 days of activism” that consists of exposing issues of gender violence, new masculinities, migration and children’s rights.

Outreach centers are places where children and young people can develop, get to know each other, relate to each other, and improve themselves. The CDAs have been strategically located in high-risk areas to reduce the rates of violence and provide opportunities for youth to broaden their vision and know that the street, or leaving the country, is not the only option they have.

According to testimonies, several young people have been freed from the gangs by going to an Outreach Center, they have come to finish their studies and prepare for a trade to be able to undertake and live from them. The lifeline that has provided hope and opportunities for youth, who have been rejected in society, originated with the first outreach center located in Rivera Hernández.

Thirteen years later, there are some 64 Outreach Centers in various departments of Honduras; in Cortés (San Pedro Sula, Choloma and La Lima), Atlántida (La Ceiba and Tela), Francisco Morazán (Tegucigalpa and Comayagüela), Gracias a Dios (Puerto Lempira).

In the last decade, the Outreach Centers have been managed by the GENESIS Project, Generating Entrepreneurs and Sustainable Synergies through an alliance between the National Foundation for Development of Honduras, FUNADEH and the United States Agency for International Development, USAID. .
The Alcance Association was recently formed for the consolidation of the CDAJ, always through multisectoral alliances with the public and private sectors, with community empowerment.

Photo gallery:


EDUCATEH program benefits more than five thousand young people and adults

Barber shop at the Outreach Center

The prevention of multiple violence is the essence of the CDA

Visit of the United States Ambassador Laura Dogu to the CDA, accompanied by Mayor Roberto Contreras, Jesús Núñez from USAID, Pastor Linares and Republican Senator Lou Correa

Asociación Alcance made up of several members of the Outreach Centers in different cities.

Napoleon Larach Foundation sponsors the EDUCATEH program

The United States Ambassador Laura Dogu with the beneficiary children

Beauty courses during community activities

Table of dances between the JuvenClub of the CDAs

Marathon carried out between various institutions and organizations, where the CDA has leadership.

Children, youth and adults of all ages participate

Young people from Rivera Hernández participate in activities to promote a culture for peace




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