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Wendy: "I dream of a different world"

Meet Wendy, a 16 year old girl from Honduras who shares, in her own words, her experience so far. Wendy is one of the girls who will represent Plan International during the pre-fórum of the 5th Fórum of the Global Network of Religions for Children that will take place on May in Panama.

My name is Wendy Vanessa Nóchez Reyes and I would like to share my story with you.

On December 16th of 2000, 16 years ago, I was born in the Maye small village, in Intibucá Department; a wild place surrounded by mountain and wild animals. Before reaching my first birthday I was sponsored by Plan International.

My father, Marden Nóchez, is from El Salvador and he is a professor; my mother, Josefa Reyes, is a young farmer who after many sacrifices and late in her life, become a commercial expert.

I was a restless and precocious child, I pretended to be a teacher, a football player and a doctor; that’s how I started to dream. When I was four years old I started kindergarten and I loved to learn.

I grew up to see several Lenca farmer meetings in my house; they spoke about the land occupations, of those who died during their battles against injustice, and something stuck to my spirit. My father read stories to me and one day he said: “Soon you will learn to read and you won’t have the need of others to read to you”. So I had the goal to learn, to become a sponge that absorbs knowledge and experiences.  Luckily that craving is still with me.

My family’s life was happening in the farm; we planted corn and beans, we cleaned the land, we opened furrows, we planted the seeds and once they germinated, we watered them and we constantly cleaned the herbs. We harvested the corn and we had to move it, carrying it on our shoulders and backs, and once we were in the house we cut off the kernels manually and finally we stored it to keep it for a longer time. In many of these activities, my siblings and I helped. This is a tough life, under the sun, the heat, the mosquitoes and hunger; a life of suffering after plagues or droughts took our plants. I swore that my life was going to be different.

The CNTC, a farmers organization in which my mother was participating, established connection with an NGO that works in agriculture production, encouraging a method called CIALES. I joined them and at the beginning I just went with my mother, yet later I became an active associate in a Youth CIAL. I was barely 7 years old.

This actually had an effect on me. I was excited about going to workshops, to take part in discussions and to use what I’ve learned. That’s how I entered, as a volunteer, the NGO’s world to serve my community. I took part in several spaces until, luckily, I joined Plan International, since my mother was a volunteer of this organization. 

However, what definitely changed my life was to take part of the Youth Consultive Councils, a space supported by Plan International which helped me grow as an adolescent, and to meet people who inspired me. It’s been a marvellous experience since I had the opportunity to attend to a National Assembly representing Intibucá, and surprisingly I was elected the country’s National President of the Youth Consultive Council. The Lenca girl from a humble household was becoming a president of the Honduras youth, a big honour, a huge commitment.

I have the privilege to be part of other youth spaces, such as the Honduras Revolutionary Youth Movement (MOJUREH); the National Platform for the Sexual and Reproductive Rights (DSDRH); the Youth Municipal Commission in my town; the Child, Adolescents and family Protection Board; Youth Promotors; Students Jury President; COIPRODEN Network, The Christian Youth Association volunteering and CIPRODED, a space that focuses on human rights, World Vision.

At the beginning of my responsibilities as the national consultive council, each achievement seemed impossible. But I’ve learned that nothing valuable comes without effort and sacrifice, and that walking the path is better than reaching the goal; that we have to fight for the ideas we believe in, that obstacles must be seen as opportunities. That still a lot needs to be done because there are millions of boys, girls and teenagers who are thirsty and hungry, who need education, health and most of all, love.  I’ve learned that I still have a lot of do and learn because a life is not about giving up: when the storm comes you don’t have to give up, you have to learn how to dance under the rain.

These years in Plan International I feel I have grown up and that my dreams aren’t impossible, that you don’t have to give up when someone discourages you, that the path is rough but I have the right to walk through it, and that the love transformed into solidarity can change the world even if the wind blows on the opposite direction.

Now I’m more tolerant and helpful: I believe that diversity gives us more, that we all fit in this universe despite sex, race, ideology, social class or education levels. I have learned that perfection doesn’t exist but you can look for it and this makes us better people each day, each second.

I’ve learned that we have to be humble, that no one is superior to anybody; that all of us have something to give, that we are not what we have but what we share with others. I’ve learned that we don’t feel nor think the same and therefore we have to respect our differences and, besides, it’s good to be in somebody else’s shoes and that’s because we still have a lot to learn.

I dream of a different world, a fair and human one, where the marginalization doesn’t exist. I want to become a doctor but because of my family’s financial situation I can’t afford to be in a long and expensive career like that, so I will take any other university title which is more accessible for me. However, I do have the hope that a miracle happens, like a scholarship or winning the lotto. Also, I would love to pay my studies by working part time, although that is hard too since employers ask for experience and from their adult perspective they see us as irresponsible and rebels.

But despite the problems and difficulties, I’m a lucky girl. Thank you Plan International.