During these days we often hear people say: the time of crisis is a time of opportunity. A group of volunteers involved in social justice ministry in Saint Vincent de Paul parish in San Pedro Sula believed in those words and began the Vincentian Initiative for Work Reentry (www.inicativalaboral.hn) that seeks to create work opportunities for those who are presently unemployed.
This initiative is inspired by the words of Saint Vincent: the poor are my burden and my sorrow (CCD:III:492) … and paraphrasing another known maxim of Saint Vincent: It is not enough that I have a hopeful future if my neighbor does not.
In this context, on June 2, 2021, this initiative hosted the First Job Fair. Some 40 companies representing various occupations offered people work as salespersons, drivers, accounting assistants, industrial machine operators, cleaning assistants, human resource persons, etc. More than 1,800 people participated (persons seeking employment).
Prior to the Job Fair, this initiative accompanied those seeking employment and offered them formation and motivational talks, incentives for self-employment, and assistance in the development of a resume.
The success of this job fair affirms the effort and creativity of a team of volunteers from the Vincentian Family as well as the contribution of those seeking employment. This initiative could be viewed as an effort at systemic change since it meets some very specific characteristics such as:
- Participation: the beneficiaries completed a resume and submitted those forms to the various companies.
- Social Impact: dignified and stable work is the basis for family transformation. This Fair had repercussions on all the means of communication in Honduras.
- Sustainability: this project is sustained by a group of volunteers who have involved multiple businesses as well as those individuals who are unemployed. It does not require the investment of large sums of money, and in fact, the few expenses were covered through local donations.
- Replication: this experience is easy to duplicate in other places. Those, however, who wish to sponsor such an event will have to be methodical and work together as a team (as did our group of volunteers).
- Innovation: job fairs are not something new, but here in Honduras there is certainly something novel about having such an event sponsored by an ecclesial institution that has no political interest. Several of the businesses that were present at this event stated: this is the best Job Fair in which we have participated.
- Co-responsibility and networking: this successful job fair would not have been possible without the participation of the various means of communication (civil and ecclesial), the support of the volunteers, the confidence that the various companies placed in us and the response of the workers to our call.
The methodology of systemic change must be respectful of the person and also transformative in order to create new opportunities. The Job Fair in Honduras has been a light of hope since in recent months (as a result of the pandemic) so many people have found themselves unemployed and as a result, have also become discouraged. During the Fair, silent cries could be heard: IN HONDURAS, A BETTER FUTURE IS POSSIBLE FOR EVERYONE!!
Text written by A.S. and J.V.N.