Las Flores: A home for young women and girls
3o minutes away from Tegucigalpa, capital city of Honduras, there is a home and a safe space for young women and girls, who unfortunately have become victims of sexual abuse due to the harsh wave of violence that affects the country on a daily basis. Centro de Niñas Las Flores is a cozy place that has become a shelter for girls and adolescents for many years. Unfortunately, the place is currently facing a difficult economic situation, putting it in danger of being closed for good. This situation also puts at risk (once again) the 12 girls who come from different parts of the country that are currently living there today. Cases of sexual abuse of girls from 1 to 18 years old are referred to the different private centers or NGOs through the National Childhood, adolescence and family Directive (DINAF), as such is the case of the Las Flores shelter . Throughout the years, the budget provided for its maintenance has been gradually reduced to none.
The Violence Observatory from the National University of Honduras (UNAH-IUDPAS) states that within the country, there are more than 2,000 sexual abuse cases registered per year against children between the ages of 0 to 19 years old; 90% of the these victims are girls. Some of the girls in Centro Las Flores came at a very young age and have been living there for more than 8 years. Returning to their former home is a terrifying thought for them, since in most of the cases the perpetrators are part of their nuclear family or people close to them, like family friends or neighbors.
The shelter was founded in 2003 by a Canadian priest. After he passed away, the aid that came from different sources stopped and since then, keeping the shelter running has been an enormous challenge. In previous years, Las Flores has sheltered up to 20 girls, but today, only 12 remain due to various circumstances; some of them abandoned the shelter because their basic needs cannot be met, risking themselves to find a far worst situation outside. Without economic stability, it is highly difficult to give a safe space for young girls, for these and more issues comes the urge to generate income for the shelter.
The Las Flores shelter is more than a roof to sleep under and eat, for these girls, this shelter and the people in it represent their home and family. Their permanency in the shelter is fundamental for their own recovery. It is there were they can access to a therapeutic space of coexistence, the necessary elements for their integral development, and the tools towards their empowerment and independence.
In December 2015, the Rotaract Clubs (Members of Rotary International) from the central zone of Honduras, received a call for help from the shelter and they made a visit which marked the beginning of what we now know as the “Juntos por Ellas” (Together for Them) campaign. This initiative towards the sensitization and awareness to the population about the situation these girls go through and the need of fundraising towards the rescue and sustainability of the shelter.
This is how the YWCA Honduras, an organization that contributes and promotes women and girls’ empowerment, and now in charge of managing the shelter, came on board with this beautiful initiative and along with the Rotaract Clubs started looking for long-term solutions that would ensure the maintenance and sustainability of the shelter.
Las Flores by Ara Macao
In this sense, a series of activities have been carried out to gain resources for the sustainability of the Las Flores shelter . The latest of these activities consist of an alliance with the Honduran company Ara Macao, which launched a clothing line designed by the girls who inhabit the shelter.
The girls received design workshops from UNITEC (Central American Technological University) and their drawings were selected by a Jury composed of artists and professional designers. The selected drawings were published for voting in social media and the top voted ones were used for the clothing line which was launched through a runway on July 6th 2017.
This activity contributes to the resilience of the girls who, through their art, obtained a way of emotional catharsis as one of them said: “I like drawing and painting relaxes me, especially when I am sad”. Besides the psychological benefits for the girls, the activity is aiming to generate an important monetary aid for the sustainability of the shelter since all earnings obtained from the sales will be donated to Las Flores.
Children are the present and the future of the country, 49% of the population are under 18 years old, it is our duty to defend and respect their rights.
Throughout the campaign, the YWCA of Honduras and all the supporters involved call on the people not to ignore this problematic and above all, invite them to contribute to Las Flores, since it is the only institution in the country that specifically treats sexual abuse cases against girls and adolescents.
Check out the T-shirts and pictures from the Fashion Show Las Flores by Ara Macao here:
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