Here Come the Hombres
How boys on the Ranch are starting to attend their own youth group.
November 23, 2016 - Honduras
Life is getting a little bit busier for some of the boys on the Ranch. While most pequeños spend their late afternoons getting a head start on homework, completing chores, or relaxing before night-time studying begins, some of the older boys are choosing to pass their 4-6 p.m. every Wednesday and Thursday at the new youth group, Hombres de Honor, or ‘Men of Honor.’
While this is not the first time Hombres has been around, a previous volunteer led meetings in the months prior to his departure, the two current leaders, volunteers Noah Forrest and Steve O’Mahony, are determined to make this group stick. “The boys want to be a part of the group, so our goal is to make it big enough where it is a priority with future volunteers,” explains Noah.
So far, they seem to be on the right track, as the group has a committed squad of 14-19 year olds who have been consistently showing up week in and week out for chats, activities, and the occasional soccer match.
“Our aim for the group,” explains Steve, “is to provide the boys with a safe space where they can express themselves, openly talk, and educate themselves on issues that concern them. Through a combination of chats, group activities, projects, and the occasional recreational futbol match or weight lifting sessions, we are trying to help the boys find the tools they need to become men who are valued, who trust themselves, who recognize their own abilities, and who are always respectful to others.”
“Teaching values is a big part of it,” continues Noah. “We want to help them dive deeper into a lot of values: respect, honesty, hard work, and self-reflection. It’s a lot of the values that Fr. Wasson instilled in the homes, and combined with a few other components that we feel are important for boys their age today.”
“One of the big ones, too,” Steve elaborates, “is respect for women. “The ‘machismo’ culture is strong in Honduras, and we would like to try to help eliminate a lot of the negative aspects of that in the boys here in regards to how women are treated.”
The formula for making all of that happen at the meetings has been fairly simple. Most days start at 4 p.m. with some group discussions or reflections. Boys have been asked to think about short and long term goals, and how to achieve them, or reflect on how they have been practicing some of the values discussed since the last meeting. The final half hour or so is spent with a more relaxed, fun activity to drive home the messages from the previous discussion. If a few consecutive meetings go well and stay on track then some meetings will end with a game of soccer as a reward instead.
While the group is still new, the first meeting was just earlier this September, and the messages seem to be getting across to the boys. “I really enjoy the group,” says Atahaulpa,* a 15 year old Hombres de Honor member. “Steve and Noah make it both really fun and informative, and we have been having really good discussions about setting goals, showing respect, and lots of other things. I think it's been really good so far, and I am excited to keep going back and learning more.”