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September 2017
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Religious Youth Service

Religious Youth Service Alumni Lead Service Programs in Southern Honduras

On June 20 and 21, 2008, Ambassador for Peace Quintin Soriano, Mayor of Choluteca, one of the southern cities of Honduras, began promoting education and service as part of a series of activities committed to make the vision of peace of UPF effective in this town. After several planning meetings with Carlos and Dilcia Agudelo Posadas, who serve as the Family for Peace representatives of UPF in this city, everyone agreed to begin with an educational and service project for middle school students of the famous and highly respected Instituto Jose Cecilio del Valle, named for the forefather known as “The Wise Valle,” who wrote the Declaration of Independence of all Central America in 1821. He was a native of Choluteca.

The program called “The Role of Youth in the Goal of Peace” began with three conferences, two based on prevention of HIV/AIDS and drug abuse at the special request of the Mayor’s wife, Mrs. Claudia de Soriano, and one conference based on service. Young Ambassadors for Peace, Miss Claudia Raudales and Nancy Castro, who are both alumni from Religious Youth Service (RYS) and direct service programs, conducted the conference.

The UPF proposal of including service in the program was well received in Choluteca as a very original and effective way to get the students involved in loving their city, and to show that youth are not what people used to say about them: “there is no hope in today’s youth.”

Instead, they proved the contrary—there is hope in today's youth!—before the eyes of the whole community under the sun of a Saturday morning and to the eyes of the Honduran local media that covered the unusual event with much enthusiasm. The service consisted of cleaning the two city parks alongside the Río Grande of Choluteca, by the bridge at the entrance of the city and planting 300 trees along both sides of the river.

The program benefited from the sponsorship and presence of the staff of the Choluteca Solidaria Foundation, and the mayor's wife, Mrs. Claudia Soriano, presided. The master of ceremonies was the Chief of the Municipal Police. A member of the City Council introduced the work of UPF Founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon, identifying him as a champion in the promotion of peace. Rev. Mineji Motoyama, international representative of UPF in Honduras, and Mr. Carlos Agudelo appointed Mrs. Claudia Soriano and the Principal of the Jose Cecilio del Valle Institute as new Ambassadors for Peace.

This project was a good opportunity to join efforts with other local organizations and Ambassadors for Peace as well. The local environment office donated 200 little trees and tools, and the Honduran military station donated 100 more; 300 trees were planted in all. Reforestation is an ongoing nationwide campaign to restore the environment, badly damaged by both long-term human activity and recent natural disasters. Ambassador for Peace Mr. Esteban Trochez, head of the office of National Emergency Management Commission for Prevention of Disasters and regional Chief of the Boy Scouts, helped by sending a couple of leaders to guide and supervise the cleaning and planting activity, especially to keep the spirit high and to avoid accidents, making it a fun and safe activity.

The students—the most important part of this project—came to the conference, with more than 500 from the 9th grade. For the cleaning and planting activity more than 100 percent of the youths selected by their teachers participated; the teachers suggested 175—and in all 179 participated. It was a wonderful day, helping the city with fun, a lot of laughter and joy, and best of all, they gained a proud sense of the accomplished goal and a willing to participate in future projects.

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