The protection and care of our young people is core to Covenant House’s work in Latin America. In order to address the causes of youth homelessness, abuse, and trafficking in the region, however, we have to widen our lens so that we also focus on prevention, access to justice, and advocacy.
Our teams in Central America and Mexico are tightly woven into their local and national communities and structures. Through our public education work we have trained thousands of police, judges, lawyers, prosecutors, civil society organizations, and neighbors to recognize and identify child rights violations, including human trafficking. Our teams have created and fostered the growth of intricate networks of community support that help us identify and respond to critical needs of children and youth.
Many of our young people in Central America and Mexico are human trafficking survivors, and we support them with safe houses designed for their care and recovery. We also offer them the means to bring their traffickers to court, accompanying them with emotional as well as legal support throughout the process.
And we take the next step, which is to advocate for laws of protection for minors who have been trafficked and those who see irregular migration as their best — or only — option for staying alive. In Guatemala, Covenant House helped pass a national migratory code grounded in human rights. In Mexico, at our dedicated residence for young migrants, we help youth process their experiences and apply for asylum.
That’s because we understand why young people flee. In Honduras, we document those reasons through our Human Rights Observatory, working with the United Nations to create an accurate portrait of child and adolescent rights violations, including extreme poverty, broken education systems, hunger, and violence, and we advocate for change.
Our well-established presence in the region makes it possible to partner with external networks, including civil society, governments, foundations, corporations, and multi-sector coalitions, to leverage our collective resources to create greater impact.