In 2010, Peacebuilding en las Américas formed a partnership with the San Pedro Sula-based women´s organization, Mercy Dream Weavers. After realizing the profound impact of AVP workshops, local facilitators began doing workshops across the country with Mother Teachers (a group of female volunteers in impoverished pre-schools), inmates at a prison in El Progreso, high school youth, Tolupan Indigenous women, and Garifuna women.
In 2014, PLA formed a partnership with the (Peace and Justice Program) of the Mennonite Church in la Ceiba. Local AVP facilitators began offering workshops with incarcerated men in el Provenir Prison, with the staff of a private Episcopal school, and with community leaders. In 2018, the work expanded to include training for police.
The Honduras program offers 15-20 Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops on average annually.
Honduras has the highest rate of feminicide in the world and one of the highest rates of overall homicide. Government systems have severely deteriorated since the 2009 Coup D’etat in a context in which human rights violations and impunity for violent crimes is widespread. At the same time, social movements have become stronger and more unified since the coup. PLA´s counterparts exhibit impressive courage and creativity in facing the profound structural injustice and daily violence.
In early 2010, Peacebuilding en las Américas partnered with Mercy Dream Weavers, an organization which draws upon feminist spirituality to advance women´s rights and eco-feminism. Mercy Dream Weavers promotes women´s holistic empowerment so they can better harness their strength to organize and transform their realities.
Dream Weavers began in 1999 after Hurricane Mitch destroyed the social and physical framework of communities throughout Honduras. Mercy Sisters and Associates saw the need not only to rebuild communities physically but also emotionally and spiritually, offering programs for people to heal from trauma. They have found this healing as essential for leading people to question practices of domination and discrimination–social, political, religious and personal – and to generate new knowledge and change structures that maintain violence and gender inequality.
With PLA’s training support and financial assistance, Dream Weavers has made AVP a fundamental part of their work on nonviolence and consciousness-building. Dream Weavers has trained new facilitators across the country, traveling to distant communities in rural areas.
After initial PLA training in 2010, Dream Weavers completed an average of 15 to 20 workshops a year. Workshop participants have included indigenous Tolupan women in defense of their territories against illegal mining companies, Garifuna women dealing with domestic violence and illegal tourist projects, female teachers in impoverished pre-schools, high school youth, men and women incarcerated in prison in Progreso, and women’s groups across San Pedro Sula.
In 2012, Mercy Dream Weavers began AVP workshops with women of the Tolupan indigenous whose ancestral territories have been invaded by transnational mining companies involved in the illegal extraction of natural resources. The companies have intimidated the population involved in local resistance. Several Tolupanes who defended their land rights were assassinated with impunity. For Tolupan women, violence is not only an external threat but a norm inside their homes due to high rates of domestic violence. In AVP workshops, women learn about their rights and begin to use their voices as leaders in their tribe.
AVP empowers women…They learn how to value themselves and feel more secure and confident in themselves… They learn that to be nonviolent does not mean to be submissive; it does not mean to be oppressed. On the contrary, to be nonviolent means to insist that the rights of women are also important…. – Aida Gonzalez, AVP Honduras Facilitator
In 2014, Dream Weavers began offering AVP workshops with Garifuna (Afro-Indigenous) women of the Free Butterflies, an organization of members from five coastal communities of northern Honduras. The women are working to transform domestic violence, alcoholism and illegal tourist development of their ancestral territories on the beaches in Tela, Atlántida.
“I learned to think before reacting, to love myself, to forgive, and so much more.” “This workshop broke the silence that I had inside me.” ” I learned to value myself as a woman and listen to myself.”
In 2014, PLA formed a partnership with the (Peace and Justice Program) of the Mennonite Church in la Ceiba. Local AVP facilitators began offering workshops with incarcerated men in el Provenir Prison, with the staff of a private Episcopal school, and with community leaders. In 2018, the work expanded to include training for police. (Expand/modify since this is exact copy of above.)
In 2018, Facilitators celebrated four years working with incarcerated persons in the El Porvenir Prison in La Ceiba. Today, there are 11 inside facilitators and over 30% of the men incarcerated have taken an AVP workshop. Although rehabilitation is required by Honduran law, prisons typically oppress, repress, and mistreat,asserts Facilitator Ondina Murillo. It is not a place for humans. There is violence everywhere. It is an environment where you go to die. In this context, AVP workshops provide inmates with tools for developing empathy and hope. The AVP community in the prison includes both former gang members and non-members. All help each other to face everyday violence within the prison, improve their surroundings and visualize a better future. There are many who have confessed to me that they thought that they were born to be bad; now they discover they can be more human and caring, says AVP Facilitator, Coni Lustenburger.