KANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Johanny Amaya, a former Children International sponsored child, has won a grant to help vulnerable youth in her home country of Honduras. Earlier this month in New York City, Johanny was awarded as one of five 2016 Advancing Leaders Fellows by the organization World Learning, securing the initial funding for her Empower Honduras initiative.
Empower Honduras aims to embolden and inspire vulnerable youth by teaching English language and leadership skills. Being able to speak English gives disaffected youth more job opportunities, which enhances their quality of life. Additionally, developing leadership strength helps participants become resilient, involved, purposeful and self-reliant.
By providing these skills to those who are marginalized by Honduran society, Johanny hopes to lessen the high probability that participants will get involved in gangs or other criminal activities. She also hopes that those who participate in this project will be inspired and motivated to work hard for their dreams and will be encouraged to see beyond their limitations.
Johanny has overcome much herself, growing up in poverty, dealing with significant depression due to personal trauma and dropping out of school to care for her sick mother after her father abandoned her family. She joined Children International's sponsorship program at age 6 and received critical support in the areas of health and education. Johanny also learned self-reliance. She realized that she could change her life by changing her own way of thinking about herself and her future. A doctor at CI's community center recognized the signs of Johanny's depression and was able to arrange for her to see a mental-health professional regularly. That support gave her courage and strength to face the challenges in her life.
As Johanny's situation improved, so did her outlook on life. She became focused on her education, excelling in learning English and eventually teaching at a bilingual school, which helped cover her educational expenses as she began attending university. Her dedication to learning earned her one of only six scholarships awarded by the U.S. government – via the Global Undergraduate Exchange (UGRAD) program – to Honduran students to study in the U.S. for a semester. And now, a senior at the Department of Foreign Languages at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, she has also been selected as one of World Learning's 2016 Advancing Leaders Fellows for her Empower Honduras initiative.
"I really want to help others to pursue their goals and dreams and believe in themselves," she said. "I have a feeling that I need to help people. That's the best thing I can do is help people. And that's what I really want to do the rest of my life." That perspective has influenced Johanny's hopes for the future: to attend graduate school, earn a doctorate and eventually start a foundation to help vulnerable youth in Honduras learn English. "Learning English changed my life," she said. "In Honduras, if you know English, you have real opportunities. So I really want to empower vulnerable kids so they have a chance, too."
"We are so incredibly proud of Johanny," Children International's president Susana Eshleman said. "She exemplifies what we hope for all of our sponsored kids – that they will be empowered to live up to their full potential and become a multiplier of opportunity for others in their communities along the way. Johanny is truly an inspiration."
Learn more about Johanny's story.
Learn more about Children International's work in Honduras.
About Children International
Children International is a top-rated humanitarian organization focused on ending poverty by helping children and teens. We take a holistic approach to our programs and services, contextualizing them to match children's needs based on where they live and the resources available. Local professional staff oversee these offerings at our 70+ community centers worldwide. Our goal is that each child graduates from our program healthy, educated, employed and empowered to break the cycle of poverty.
For more information about Children International, visit children.org.
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