Who are CEVER students, and where do they come from?

The students at CEVER come from a variety of backgrounds and socioeconomic classes but most of them are currently working to support their families. The department of Yoro is economically depressed and made up of many subsistence farming families. These farmers, whose families have worked this land for generations, are now facing increasing difficulty in selling the crops they have traditionally grown. As a result, most of the students at CEVER take an active role in the care of the household while their parents work: taking care of siblings, cooking meals, cleaning.

Many of the boys work with their fathers on the farms to supplement their income – either picking coffee on plantations, or working the family’s land for corn or beans. Some of the girls sell tortillas, wood, or small sewn crafts by the side of the road while they are not in class. Students may live with guardians – either because their parents are dead or abusive, or because they live far away from the school in the very rural regions of the valley and cannot afford to travel each day. There are students who walk 5 miles to and from school each day. There are also students whose parents are professionals, store owners, or trade workers. Almost every student talks passionately of their responsibility to make life better for their family.

Why is CEVER unique?

CEVER provides the students with an avenue to other jobs, and dreams they might not have had otherwise. In interviews with the students, they revealed goals ranging from working in a maquilla (sweatshop), to the dozens who wanted to own their own trade shop, to those who profess to wanting to be doctors, musicians, lawyers, teachers, engineers, even mayors. For each, their work at CEVER is a catalyst for those dreams. The words most commonly used are superar la vida, and seguir adelante (make life better, and push on forward). There is a strong recognition that trade work learned at CEVER can act as a stepping stone: using money saved to pay for university and further education.

Most vocational schools in Honduras have expensive tuition. CEVER operates on a system of symbolic tuition – so that any student from any background might be able to matriculate.

CEVER is an indigenous initiative local to the Yoro valley. The director, Angel House, is a strong advocate for student voice and is himself a graduate of CEVER, who returned to teach, and was subsequently appointed as the director. About ten years ago he was promoted to director. He displays great passion for his students.

What are the classes at CEVER like?

Classes at CEVER are structured around the extenuating circumstances of the students’ lives. Life in the subsistence farming community includes harvesting, family care, and the persistent need to work to support their families. Students are able to work independently once enrolled so that they can balance family commitments and schooling. Students have the option of taking basic education courses along with their technical courses so that they can finish with a 9th grade education. The students at CEVER praise their instructors highly: they speak of the individual attention and care they receive.

What role does religion play at CEVER?

CEVER is a Christian institution, founded and run by the Evangelical and Reformed Church of Honduras. The students receive Christian instruction, but the school is accepting of students of all religious affiliations.

What happens to the products that students make in class?

Products such as chairs, beds, benches, pillowcases, shirts, and tools that are made by CEVER students are sold in Honduras. Unfortunately, these high quality, hand-made products are sold for a very low price.

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All photos by Henry Hoffman