Around the world, it’s partnerships with local organizations that shape our work. In Honduras, where gangs and drug trafficking often lead to violence, MCC supports the local Mennonite organization Proyecto Paz y Justicia (Peace and Justice Project or PPJ), in their efforts to create a more peaceful future.
The project trains volunteers to present in schools once a week on topics like respect, forgiveness, and conflict resolution. These lessons equip students to deal with the violence around them.
We sat down with Belinda Rodriguez, director of PPJ, to talk about the relationship between PPJ and MCC.
Where did the idea for this project come from?
All these ideas came from previous experiences from different Mennonite partners and churches in Central America and Latin American countries. Then we adopt these experiences into the context of Honduras.
For example in Colombia they used all these techniques, talking with students and teachers about conflict analysis or restoration.
What happened after you presented the proposal to MCC, did you have to make changes?
After presenting a proposal to MCC the changes that we needed to make were just related to structure, for example to give more information about what the impact is going to be or the objectives. The emphasis and the work itself it hasn’t changed at all.
And the other changes they sometimes have to do are related to the budget, because it’s a limited budget.
Do you remember how many meetings you had to have to make these changes? How many times did it go back and forth?
It’s been many meetings, it’s a consistent relationship between MCC and PPJ. At the beginning of the negotiation of a new project or proposal we meet between February and March. After that we need to present progress reports, and MCC is monitoring and supervising. Sometimes they host delegations that come from different countries to see and to supervise the work that we’re doing here. It’s a consistent and very much reciprocal relationships that we have.
At the end of all the negotiations, do you still feel like it’s your project? The project you hoped for?
I feel like it’s my project or PPJ’s project—the work and what the objectives are and the impact.
I feel very satisfied with the support I have been receiving through MCC. I know that MCC respects and listens. MCC requires some of the structures and reporting, but I understand that’s just part of the relationship between MCC and us as an association.
Other organizations come here to Honduras with strict regulations and requirements and that’s it. But MCC listens and has a close partnership, and I feel like MCC accompanies the partner here in Honduras.
What are some of the successes you’ve had with this project?
The positive outcomes are the changes that we can see in children, for example how their behaviour is changed because of a talk that they received in the school. To be convinced that all the work that we do is actually helping to make a change in children’s lives. Sometimes we wonder, we don’t get a chance to see this kid again, but we know that God will be working through that child just because of that talk they received that day at the school.
Read a story about the difference this project is making in Honduras from the latest issue of A Common Place.
This interview has been edited and condensed.