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Creating Possibilities For the Youth of Cofradia

Written by Ebelina Arteaga, Honduras Together Manager

Cofradia, Honduras, is a place where many young men and women do not study or work. They spend their time on the streets, where they face various dangers such as gangs and drugs.

For the youth of Cofradia to have productive and healthy futures, something had to be done: a path toward employment and opportunities to display their creativity, innovative spirits, and entrepreneurial skills, which would not only benefit them as individuals but also the entire community. But how?

Pastor Cesar, pastor of Cofradia Christian Church, had an idea. What if a vocational training center could be built to provide a place for the youth to learn a trade and skills such as woodworking, welding, and electrical installation?

When First Christian Church (Springfield, Ohio) offered to transform and outfit two shipping containers for this purpose, a vision for the vocational training center came to life. The two shipping containers were transformed into school spaces and a truss roof was provided to span the space between the containers, making room for an open air learning space. Hondurans prepared the ground, set the outfitted containers onto footers, installed the truss roof, and fit windows and doors into the container walls. The vocational school was ready, along with all of the opportunities it brought to Cofradia!

As a child and Lifeline student in Ocotillo, Honduras, Pastor Cesar learned woodworking and welding from a Lifeline staff member named Osmaro; he also helped Osmaro with small jobs around Lifeline’s Ocotillo campus. Osmoro paid him for his assistance and work. In the afternoons, Cesar would visit a friend who had a small carpentry shop, first just going to observe and then eventually learning to work with wood. With time, he perfected his skills and built his knowledge of the trade. Now, Pastor Cesar is a teacher at the Cofradia Vocational School!

Manuel, also a former Ocotillo school student and a Lifeline church member, is an electrician by trade. He too is a volunteer teacher at the vocational school and travels there on Fridays to teach. 

Students at the vocational school will be empowered in many ways. They will have a better self-esteem, learn to have good relationships with others, learn to work in groups, and know Jesus as their Savior. On class days, the teachers and students have a devotional time: they read a Bible chapter, discuss it, and pray. 

The school program consists of 2-years of basic skill in 3 trade areas. Each student attends woodworking classes on Mondays and Tuesdays; welding on Wednesdays and Thursdays; and electrical work on Fridays. Classes run from 7:30AM - 11:30AM. 

In the future, Pastor Cesar would like to add an advanced skills program, and is praying for the resources, including the machinery and tools, to make this possible. 

To help cover costs, the students pay a registration fee of 200 lempiras (about $8.00) and a monthly fee of 350 lempiras (about $14). “Money is necessary, but as a pastor, I know that everything that belongs to God, and we must be open for those who are not able to pay but have the desire to learn,” said Pastor Cesar. “The plan in the future is to create and sell furniture, and thus be able to cover our expenses.” 

He also said, “This vocational program is very important. It helps young people to develop creativity and also gives them the opportunity to learn a trade. These occupations are not popular anymore, and there are not many places where people can go to learn them. This will help students to fight against poverty, take care of their needs with their skills, and improve their living conditions. It will also boost their self esteem!” 

Let's meet the students: 

  1. Nery (14) ~ Nery and his family attend church. He is in 9th grade and goes to school in the afternoons. “I want to develop my vocational skills in these three areas. I know this will help me to have a job or even my own workshop. This will help my family. The most challenging of the three programs is electricity, but I must give my best to learn. During devotional time, I have learned that God is merciful, forgiving, and we must obey Him. I know the vocational school is going to grow and this will make the community a better place.”

  1. Jorge (13) ~ Jorge attends church. He is in 7th grade. “I have learned that I am very good at welding! I really enjoy it. God has blessed me a lot and has opened doors for me.” 

  1. Samir (15) ~ Samir learned about the program from his friend, Fredy. Samir doesn't attend church. “I am not studying at school. My school is still online and I do not learn this way. This is a great opportunity to learn and a good place for me to invest my time.”  

  1. Fredy (15) ~ He learned about the vocational program from a woman who attends the nearby Lifeline church. He, though, doesn't attend church. He said, “When I finish the program, I plan to go back to school (10th grade) and study automotive mechanics. Everything is pretty easy to me. I like the three programs. I have learned that if I put my mind to something, I can do it in a short time.”

  1. Elder (13) ~ Elder doesn't attend church. He learned about the program through Fredy “I wasn't able to attend school this year. What I like the most is woodwork, which is the easiest for me. I know God is good, and He can give me the strength to finish this program.”

Pastor Cesar reflected on this program and all that it brings to Cofradia. He said, “I give thanks to First Christian Church which provided the place, containers, and tools, and to the Honduran pastors and leaders who have been helping us in Cofradia for a long time!”

This vocational training center was made possible by North American church that wanted to come alongside Pastor Cesar and this community. Through Lifeline's Container Outfitting ministry, the church leaders mobilized their congregation and others to make transform 2 shipping containers into school work space, and local Hondurans finished the installation on-site. Learn more about how YOUR church or group can help a community like Cofradia with similar hopes and dreams.