This guest post was written by Carlos Luis, a participant in Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE) programs. It is also available in Spanish.
My name is Carlos Luis. I am 19 years old, and I am originally from El Progreso, Yoro, in Honduras. I am currently studying toward a degree in public accounting and finance at the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). I love listening to music, watching anime, drawing, and running.
When I was a little boy, I was always very quiet. I had a hard time making friends, so I used my creativity and imagination to create other worlds and get away for a while. I liked to dream that I would become an airplane pilot, and that way I could take care of my mother and grandmother.
Even though my family always cared about me, I also remember the fear. The fears, actually. In plural.
Some fears were a bit silly, to be honest. I was afraid of the dark, and I imagined that the shadows I saw were monsters that came to attack me while I slept. Very soon, I freed myself from that fear.
Other fears, other monsters, were more real and harder to beat.
There was the monster of precariousness, the feeling that sometimes there was not enough money to buy clothes or food. From a very young age, I felt that it was my obligation as a man to contribute to the household. It was a huge weight that sometimes I didn’t know how to deal with.
Above all, there was the monster of insecurity. Around me, there was a lot of violence, and I saw with pain how many of my classmates ended up in gangs out of need – the need to have an income; the need to be accepted, to belong, to have a family.
A few years ago, I had to face my biggest fear: that I would have to give up my dream of going to college and instead stay home to take care of my family. We just couldn’t afford to pay for my education. Although I wanted to study to help my family, I felt that by doing so I would be abandoning them.
I felt lost, paralyzed.
Then my teachers told me about OYE.
They told me that OYE offered scholarships for committed young people – and also gave you tools to help you get to know yourself better, help your community, and reach your full potential.
Although the scholarships from OYE are invaluable, the organization is much more than financial support. It is a space to challenge yourself and overcome your fears. To ask questions. To laugh at yourself, make friends, and have a good time.
Thanks to OYE, I discovered that I can paint, that sports and health care are important, and that I need to learn to control my emotions.
In the masculinities space, I learned that it’s okay to be afraid. That being afraid doesn’t make me less of a man. We just have to work so that fear does not dominate us and make us act violently.
Thanks to OYE, I learned that as a man I have the right to care and be cared for. That I don’t always have to have all the answers, and that responsibilities should always be shared. All of this was especially important during the pandemic, which was a good opportunity to question my selfishness and learn to take care of others – and learn to ask for help.
I still have fears. But now my dreams are bigger.
I want to graduate and work in a field I like. And even if I’m not a pilot, I want to be a traveler, to get to know many places and people. I still want to take care of my family, but not because I have to, not because it’s a weight, but because it makes me happy.
Thanks to OYE, I learned to transform my fears into opportunities.
To other young people like me, I would say that, despite the difficult times, we are and will continue to be the owners of our own lives and our decisions.
There is always something to do, something more to learn, and fears to overcome. And while everything can be done, it is done step by step. One thing at a time.
The Organization for Youth Empowerment (OYE) promotes socially conscious youth leadership and encourages high academic achievement and comprehensive training through a competitive scholarship program and community participation projects that include art workshops, video production and graphic design, and a radio station directed by young people.
For more than five years, OYE has been working with groups of young men with the aim of creating safe spaces for managing emotions and promoting healthy masculinities. OYE was part of the Changing Gender Attitudes, Empowering Girls initiative, a partnership between GFC and the Summit Foundation. OYE is also one of the winners of GFC’s 2022 Maya Ajmera Sustainability Award.
Header photo: Carlos Luis in front of a mural at OYE. © OYE
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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