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Honduras is by far one of the most beautiful countries in the Western Hemisphere.  The beauty of the coral reefs off the coasts of the Bay Islands, the Mayan ruins of Copan, the breathtaking mountain vistas, the tropical climate, and the friendliness of the people remind visitors of the splendor of Honduras.  Still, that which seems to draw greater attention and create a sense of insecurity is the violence associated with gangs and drug trafficking.  While parts of Honduras, especially the two major cities of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, can be dangerous, most of Honduras can be thoroughly enjoyed without fear or undue worry.

In November 2012, the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for parts of Honduras.  Intibucá, where Shoulder to Shoulder exclusively operates, was not named in the travel warning.  Then, on February 19, 2013, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras Lisa Kubiske tweeted: “Proud to meet the Public Health Brigade from my alma mater Brandeis. Look forward to seeing more volunteer groups soon.”  The ambassador was apparently unconcerned for the travel warning.

Whereas the violence, real yet often sensationalized, in Honduras is mostly contained in urban areas, efforts from non-profits, concerned individuals, aid from the US government, and support from the Honduran government are reducing violence in Honduras. Smart, strategically targeted programs curb the tide of violence. In the last number of years, from 2014 through the present, indicators of violence have been reduced. In reality, the investments in poverty stemming service programs is the key to bringing about a healthier, safer Honduras.

This article in the New York Times shows how the efforts of goodwilled individuals, groups, and non-profits receiving assistance by the US government can and do make a difference in turning a culture of violence into a culture of justice and peace. Read how The Most Dangerous Place On Earth Got Safer.

Police Cooperation

Shoulder to Shoulder works closely with police officials throughout Intibucá. A member of our Brigade and Traveler team meets with regional police representatives on a monthly basis to receive crime updates and create a summary report. These reports are shared with brigade leaders and are available upon request.  It is not that Shoulder to Shoulder is concerned with violence directed toward our brigade members, but the reports keep us well informed if there are any areas we should stay clear of.

A National Police officer patrols a local playground
A National Police officer patrols a local playground

Police report that the overwhelming percentage of violence is due to alcohol, longstanding family feuds, and domestic violence. Contrary to some public perception, violence and crime is not directed toward Americans or foreigners.

The police work with local town committees, schools, community leaders, and NGOs like Shoulder to Shoulder to communicate the latest local issues and how they are addressing criminal activity.

Shoulder to Shoulder’s Safety Policy

In our 25-year history, we have never had a violent incident involving a visitor. Intibucá is one of the most tranquil and safe areas in all of Honduras. Still, we remain vigilant because the security of our staff, visiting brigades, and volunteers remains our number one concern.

Our Safety Measures Include:

** Training and the completion of a safety test prior to visiting Honduras.

** Secure hotels.

** Supervision by American leaders and Honduran brigade coordinators.

** Secure sleeping arrangements.

** Fieldwork supervised by Honduran medical professionals as well as American brigade leaders.

Our brigades and our visitors from the United States are critical in the execution of Shoulder to Shoulder’s mission.  We are committed to maintaining a safe environment where individual development can take place.  We seek to foster relationships between professional volunteers and our communities where both parties feel welcomed, respected, and empowered.

For more information regarding security in Honduras, please contact us.