September 28, 2020
For years, AJS has been equipping parents, grandparents, and students to stand up for change in their communities through social auditing. Now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen how these social auditors truly have become leaders for justice in their communities.
What is social auditing? It is when citizens come together to monitor, evaluate, and follow up the management of local institutions, like schools and health clinics. Ultimately, social auditing leads to stronger institutions that transparently and effectively serve the community.
Social auditors like Keybi show up at local schools and health clinics to build stronger systems. They ensure that teachers are showing up at their children’s schools and doctors have critical medications on-hand for patients. This critical work not only addresses corruption at the local level, but it means that even those living in the most marginalized neighborhoods of Honduras have access to quality, affordable education and medical care.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Honduras this year, life for Hondurans completely changed – especially in the vulnerable neighborhoods where we work. Many community members lost their jobs, and the strict lockdown contributed to feelings of fear and uncertainty.
A recent survey in the neighborhoods where we work found that 46% of respondents had a family member with a suspected case of COVID-19 – showing how the pandemic impacts poor communities.
In the midst of uncertainty, though, our social auditors have stepped up to lead their communities through a time of crisis.
Our social auditors have become health ambassadors to their communities – sharing information about COVID-19 symptoms with their neighbors, educating them about how to protect themselves from COVID-19, and showing up at health centers to hold doctors and nurses accountable to best practices. In fact, many of those same neighbors have started coming to our social auditors when they receive substandard medical care, so that the social auditors are able to advocate for change.
The students we work with are also stepping up as leaders during COVID-19. Honduras has closed schools and asked them to provide virtual classes, but many students receive little to no instruction from their teachers or can’t access internet. These students have used the tools of social auditing to hold their schools accountable – monitoring how often teachers give homework or provide feedback. As schools consider reopening for the new school year in 2021, our social auditors are committed to advocating for a safe reopening – working with school officials to make that possible.
While COVID-19 has changed life in so many ways, it has not deterred our social auditors’ commitment to standing up for justice in their communities. Their leadership makes it possible to respond to Honduras’ greatest needs.