One Honduran finds his future at home

Man and two children holding books (Courtesy of Julio Paz)
Julio Paz runs a reading program at a small community library to promote reading among children and youth. (Courtesy of Julio Paz)

Julio Paz was so desperate for a job he tried unsuccessfully to migrate to the United States three times. Then he found a better way.

Paz, from Guarita in the Lempira department of Honduras, studied computer science in high school, but it wasn’t enough to get a job. He wanted to continue his studies at a university, but his family could not afford to cover housing, transportation, educational supplies and other necessities.

However, Paz was determined to succeed so he could support his family and community.

He says he thought, “’What am I going to do?’ I didn’t have much hope of getting a job, because they always required educational and work experience. That was one of the reasons I decided to leave. As I always wanted to learn a second language, I thought maybe the United States is my opportunity for that.”

Just before he decided to head north in 2017, he came across a program supported by USAID in his hometown.

Paz joined USAID’s Honduras Local Governance Internship for Inclusion Program, designed to help vulnerable youth like himself get formal work experience in the central-western region of Honduras.

Hope for one, hope for the community

After the internship, Paz applied for a full-time Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) assistant position with the USAID Honduran Local Governance program and now, at 24, is working in a regional office in Copán.

“Having an income allowed me to build a career and support my family,” Paz said. “I managed to become independent from my parents’ house in Guarita, Lempira, and live with colleagues of my age, which made us grow together at an important moment in our lives.”

In 2019, he was selected to participate in the Diploma in Human Rights and Forced Migration program, sponsored by the Seattle International Foundation and Cristosal in El Salvador. That same year, he was asked to attend a youth and migration conference in Mexico City. And in early 2020, he was invited to represent Honduras at the same conference, this time in Tijuana, Mexico.

The journey continues

As an M&E assistant, Julio supports USAID’s work promoting youth entrepreneurship and economic development in western Honduras.

Through this project, from 2017 to 2019, USAID supported more than 70 youth from western Honduras and Tegucigalpa in acquiring competencies and finding work in their local communities. These new opportunities improve not only their own lives, but also those of their families and communities.

Julio exemplifies commitment and resilience. He charted his own journey and has not looked back. His future looks brighter in Honduras.

A version of this story, titled “A Journey of Perseverance: Boosting young Hondurans’ chances at success by providing skills training and work experience to nurture their abilities,” appeared in Medium.