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Formerly Incarcerated Youth Strive to Heal Their Communities

Previously incarcerated youth are not only changing their own lives, they’re also bringing joy and hope to others in their communities. Success Academy graduates in Honduras who are now released have been planning and implementing various service projects this year.

In San Pedro Sula in September, the Orphan Helpers network of released youth commemorated Children’s Day through a day of service. This self-organized and self-governed group made a heartfelt decision to dedicate their time to a neighborhood known for its limited access to education, pervasive poverty, and frequency of violence. They played games, provided food, and served as inspirational role models to the children in the community.

Earlier in the summer, ten Success Academy graduates along with Orphan Helpers staff gathered to bless the residents of an assisted living facility near Tegucigalpa operated by the Honduran government. The residents of the center are elderly or disabled and have no family to care for them.

“We want to give back, to glorify God, and to show the community we have changed.” said Maynor, a Success Academy graduate.

Youth led residents at the assisted living facility in praying, singing praises, and sharing the word of God. They also planned games and activities, provided free haircuts and served a homemade lunch of rice, vegetables, and chicken. It was a beautiful time of worship and fellowship.

One resident who has lived in the assisted living center for 40 years was especially thrilled about the visit. He said that he has no family and looks forward to any special group who takes the time to come and visit.

“Having young people spend time with us here is such a joy,” he said. “We love that they bring energy, that they take time to play games with us, and that they sit down and talk to us about their lives.”

One of the main organizers of the event was Edwin, who was once one of the most serious inmates in a maximum-security youth detention center in Honduras. At the event, he shared a sermon and provided his barbering services that he learned behind bars in a workshop offered by Orphan Helpers.

“I know it sometimes seems lonely and that God is not with you,” Edwin told the center residents. “The days drag on, right? I have experienced that same feeling in the detention center. But that’s what faith is. It’s knowing that He is here and He loves you, even when we do not see Him.”

The group of youth who have named themselves “Youth in Action” hope to do more service

projects. Their goal is to serve their communities, help others, and prove that positive change is possible.

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