Intern’s Diary (Part 2): LACVOX in Honduras and Barbados
January 5, 2009 by gargorama
This is Part 2 of a two part diary written by Griffin Flannery, a undergraduate journalism major at Boston University, who spent 4 months interning at UNICEF’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama City, Panama. In this diary entry, Griffin writes about his visit to the Barbados and Honduras to see and participate in the development of LACVOX. Part 1of this series can be read here.
Though the Caribbean network is brand new, there is a great level of interest in the program, and the contributors are all very talented, intelligent, and motivated young people. The first thing that struck me about the network in Barbados is the type of participants the network has attracted. The participants represented a very active, outspoken, element of the youth demographic, and were generally deeply involved on a community level.
My visit to Barbados coincided with the UNICEF year-end conference for the area, and members of the network from Dominica and Barbados were present to cover the event. After being introduced to them, I sat down in the conference to observe. Throughout the time I spent there the young communicators conducted themselves admirably. The hours were long, and many of the topics were dense; but each of the youths was attentive throughout the meeting. Questions and comments portions followed each of the lectures, and in these times the lacvox members amazed me. If there were any nay-sayers at the beginning of the meeting, by the end they were converts to the importance of lacvox’s mission. It was often the young people who raised the toughest questions, the ones that may have otherwise been overlooked. Frequently one would stand up and pose a question so direct and poignant that the room would reverberate with murmurs of agreement. Even more importantly they presented a point of view that was not only intelligent and well expressed, but also noticeably distinct from those of their elders. One would be hard-pressed to find a single participant from the meeting who would not agree that the meeting would have been diminished without the participation of the youth.
On the second to last day of the conference, the youth was handed the reins to the meeting for one segment of lectures. For that one segment the audience listened to first hand opinions from Je-Meila Maloney, Christaneisha Soleyn (a member of LACVOX who attended the workshop in El Salvador), and Danny Babb on the problems confronting the youth of Barbados, as well as ways to solve them. Each of the youths boasted an impressive résumé of involvement and leadership at the community level, which leant an extra weight to their words. The three speeches were best recounted and described by a LACVOX member Cordell Lazare, in his article on the UNICEF website (which can be found here) so I will not go too deeply into them. The professionalism of both the speeches and the article are a great testament to the necessity of the lacvox network, as well as being a wonderful demonstration of the unique insight that the youth has to offer.
The next country I visited is Honduras. Honduras’ “Redes de Comunicadores Infantiles y Juveniles” (Networks of Youth Communicators) were impressive in their size and scope. In contrast to the new Caribbean network, here the networks are well-established and have been anchored in the community since1993. There are over seventy networks of this kind in Honduras, and each one of them is independently run by the Community Networks of separate municipalities.
In Tegucigalpa, where I visited, their Community Network is called COMVIDA. This efficient grassroots network is mother to a number of community led projects. They hold theater sessions as a way to spread knowledge of problems facing the community, and particularly the youth. They also have network members working at kiosks strategically placed throughout the city with information on all types of issues, such as HIV/AIDS and adolescent pregnancy, handing out pamphlets and holding discussions with anyone interested.
The Young Communicators program is strong and well organized in Tegucigalpa, and they arrived in numbers to provide coverage for a national meeting on the importance of investing in the youth. Outside there were three or four pairs of youngsters armed with microphones and video cameras shooting segments for their coverage of the meeting. Inside there was more of the same: Youth with video cameras and tripods, youth with digital cameras, youth with audio recorders, youth with tablet notebooks.
Later that day I had the opportunity to go and see a few of the young communicators at work when we went to the neighborhood of Villa Nueva, where they shot segments about the necessity of having a Recreation Center to provide the neighborhood children with a safe, and positive environment. They planned the shoot to be during a meeting of “Fútbol Para la Vida,” another COMVIDA-run project, so they could get the opinions of local children. With the camera on, each child was all business, performing like a pro, but as soon as the power light went off, each one would scamper off to play with the other kids.
I spent my final day in Honduras observing three young communicators named Jorge Alvarenga, Gabriela Rodriguez, and Daniel Kestembur shooting for the network’s weekly TV segment, which is featured on Channel 10 in Honduras (one of their segments can be found here). I was amazed by how knowledgeable and attentive to detail each of the three presenters were, and was not surprised to see their professionalism mirrored in their final products.