While the US government has threatened to close down their support to Honduras and other Latin American countries, and while the horrible realities of life in Honduras in general and Tegucigalpa specifically are being posted on most major news sites and new migrations are allegedly on their way to the US, I decided to go a bit against the prevailing current and accept an invite to take part in the biggest educational event in Honduras and meet as many Hondurans as I could in only 4 days.
The overall purpose was to take part in the conversations around the Orange Economy and give my contribution to how Honduras could benefit from the opportunities. The specific reason I was there was to take part in Honducamp, which is a tech and educational event that is attended by around 10,000 kids, students, entrepreneurs, and business leaders.
I joined the morning show in Honduras to give my point of view on education and the creative industry
The Orange Economy is a concept coined by John Howkins and Felipe Buitrago Restrepo which basically describes how building a creative industry and owning IP rights could make a sizable contribution to economies especially in Central and South America that have been facing tough challenges for many years. (Their book on the Orange Economy can be downloaded here for free).
On my way to Honduras and while I was there, I had a constant influx on my social channels about how dangerous a place Honduras is. And yes, let’s be honest about it. It is certainly no picnic to be living or traveling to Honduras. From the moment you land until you depart, you feel that this is a fairly dangerous place to hang out. But, that said, Honduras is not in my mind that different from countries like South Africa and similar, and you do not need to take that many precautions before you actually are quite safe.
During my stay, I was fortunate to have been able to speak with a ton of different Hondurans from all walks of life, and the common denominator between them all was an incredible love for their country.
Everyone I met was incredibly eager to try to move the country forward. I met with the President Juan Orlando Hernández, the Minister of Technology and Science, and other high-level politicians. I met with tech entrepreneurs, but I also met with really hardworking people in low paid jobs, who are struggling to get by. There were a lot of different opinions about where the country was heading, why and how – but one thing that was shared amongst everyone was a big and genuine love for the people of Honduras and a wish for changing things for the better.
What touched me the most in the last few days was meeting an extraordinary number of enthusiastic, curious and hardworking students and their teachers. For me to see that level of excitement about how education, research, technological experimentation and Internet access gives more accessibility to resources to learn, train, and develop than any technology has ever given before was inspirational.
There is a lot of potential in Honduras, and there are a lot of qualified people in and outside Honduras that want to make it a better place to live for its people.
A refugee crisis is solved by helping people to get a future where they are. No one wants to walk or travel 2500 miles just for the fun of it.
I don’t believe that it is up to foreigners like me to solve all of the problems in a country; we can’t and we don’t understand the complexity of the challenges. But when there is systematic and believable hope for progress, we should support it and help accelerate a positive development. I do not believe in endless amounts of charity, but I do believe that support in the shape of knowhow, education, access to the right people and technology is really what matters most. Especially when it comes to building an Orange Economy that could be creating a believable future for many of the kids and students I met there.
I would encourage everyone who has a set opinion on refugees from the region to go there, talk to people, meet them and try to understand the complexities and severity of the situation there and then think about if you would offer a helping hand in the shape of inspiration, knowhow and investments.
These are the best ways of helping to create a future for the kids and students of Honduras.