This guest post was written by Juan Enamorado, who goes by JC Rock, the Co-Founder and Executive Director of GFC partner Warriors Zulu Nation. It is also available in Spanish.
My legal name is Juan Enamorado, but please call me JC Rock. I chose that name – it is my name as an artist, my real name. I am 27 years old, and I am originally from Bonito Oriental Colon, a rural community in Honduras.
My first memories of when I was a child are memories of separation and loneliness.
In 1998, when I was 4 years old, Hurricane Mitch swept through Honduras and tore our family apart. We lost everything: the house my parents had built with so much sacrifice, our belongings – our home. Everything disappeared overnight.
From there we had to leave, moving all the time to survive.
My parents divorced, and my brothers and I moved with my mother to San Pedro Sula, in the Cortés Department of Honduras. A short time later, my mother went to the United States, hoping to earn enough money to give us a better life. My brothers and I stayed with some relatives for some time, but soon we were on our own. I was 11 years old, and I felt lonely and rootless.
Several years of uncertainty followed. We were always leaving, always walking.
My brothers and I were very close. They were my greatest support. However, I always felt that something was missing. I had two questions on my mind and in my heart that weighed on me because I didn’t know how to answer them: Where do I belong? and What is the meaning of life?
In 2008, when I was 14 years old, we finally settled in the Chamelecón neighborhood of San Pedro Sula. It was there, in one of the most dangerous places in the country, that I found my community. My family.
In Chamelecón, I met many other young people like me who felt lost and angry because of the poverty and injustice they witnessed every day. Young people who were hungry to change the world and were looking for opportunities to build dignified and happy lives.
In that place, I was introduced to breaking (break dancing) and the rest of the Hiphop culture. It was like being born again. That’s when I became JC Rock.
Dancing became my life. Every time I dance, I feel free. I feel strong and capable of everything. I feel that I can express myself and connect with other young people. Dancing is our way of saying to adults:
We are young, and we have ideas, dreams, and proposals to improve our neighborhoods. We are not going to allow you to treat us like criminals and tell us what to do.
We have a voice to sing with, legs to dance with, and a heart to change the world. We are not the future. We are not a speech. We are not a plan, a policy, or a project. We are the present. We are a transformative power, the possibility of new beginnings.
We have listened to you enough already. It is time for you to listen to us. We are not victims. We are agents of change.
More and more young people became engaged. They felt heard and valued. I realized that in this space they found the same thing that I had looked for for so many years: a family.
That’s when I realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to just that: to offering other young people a place to belong – a safe place for them to express themselves and feel heard, a place to escape violence.
Together with my brother Kelvin and some friends, we founded Warriors Zulu Nation. We named it that because we wanted to honor our daily struggle for this shared dream and acknowledge the history of the Hiphop movement as a tool for social change. And we named it that because that’s who we are: warriors.
We have overcome many challenges: distrust, adult-centered views, and a lack of empathy. We have prevailed against the authoritarian and condescending attitudes of people and organizations that told us over and over again, “Yes, we can support you, but only if you do what we tell you to do.” They just wanted us to do their work for them, while they received all the credit and met their indicators.
We never sold out. We remained faithful to our project and to the communities we support. Through joy and suffering, successes and failures, we have never stopped growing.
Ten years later, I still can’t believe everything we have achieved. We have obtained support from organizations truly willing to listen to us and walk with us. We have taken our art to different parts of Honduras and Central America. We have forced the authorities to listen to us and take into account the demands and needs of young people.
Most importantly, we have inspired other young people to change their lives, break the cycle of violence, and become advocates to inspire their families, friends, and communities. We have given them hope.
In consortium with Children International and UNHCR, we are currently strengthening youth art collectives in three districts of San Pedro Sula: Chamelecón, Cofradía, and Rivera Hernández. With the support of USAID, we launched the Youth Excel project to improve security and mobility in the region.
We work in places very damaged by violence, where opportunities are scarce. But these are also places full of creative and brave young people who are capable of writing their own stories. They are places inhabited by great artists, by warriors.
And now, together with GFC, we are ready for our next battle: using our art and our expression to reflect on ourselves, recognize our own violence and machismo, and promote healthy masculinities that contribute to gender justice.
We have a lot to learn, but we know that we are not alone. We know that change is possible. We know that we can be better and that, in this way, we will be able to better care for and support the young people who come to Warriors Zulu Nation looking for a family.
We are willing to feel uncomfortable, to make mistakes, to fall and get up as many times as necessary. Why? Because we trust other young people, and we believe in their dreams. They are the ones who sustain us, the ones who will never allow us to give up.
We’re ready. Let’s change the world, starting with ourselves. Let’s create, build, and rebuild ourselves. Let’s use our art to be better.
Header photo: JC Rock practicing break dance moves. © Warriors Zulu Nation Honduras
Warriors Zulu Nation Honduras is part of the Promoting Youth Leadership for Gender Justice initiative, which is a partnership between the Summit Foundation and GFC.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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