Advocating for Better Education: Karol’s Story

  • September 27, 2019

How joining a social auditing group inspired Karol to become a community leader and pursue a university degree

One morning, Karol Rodríguez* heard about the opportunity to attend community gatherings in a local church. As a mother of three, Karol had precious little free time, but she managed to make it to one lively meeting.

During a training program, Karol explains which service she has the right to receive at the local clinic.

Karol soon learned these meetings were part of AJS’s research to prepare for community auditing of local public schools and health clinics. During these open sessions, community members came together to map out how to improve medicine delivery in local clinics and teacher attendance in schools. Then they strategized about how to raise their collective voice in an environment resistant to accountability.

During the first meetings, Karol felt shy and too nervous to speak, but she still decided to attend every single meeting because she believed that her local school and health clinic could give her three children the quality services they deserved.

Karol formally submitting the findings from the social audits in front of both local and central authorities for health and education.

When Karol heard about the opportunity to be a community auditor, she confided in AJS social workers that she didn’t see how she could add any value to the project. She felt that her situation of poverty, education level, and family circumstances reduced her ability to contribute. Sadly, this is a common belief among community members, especially among those with limited literacy. These insecurities are a deeper reflection of the barriers to justice that AJS’s work addresses.

An additional potential barrier was Karol’s location. Karol lives in one of the most dangerous sectors within her community, causing her to feel withdrawn and afraid, and to avoid leaving her home as much as possible.

Despite these barriers, Karol decided to become a volunteer auditor evaluating doctors’ treatment of patients and the availability of textbooks and learning materials in classrooms. In every meeting, she felt more like she belonged as the AJS team of social workers worked to create a safe space where Karol and other community members felt strengthened to be leaders in their community.

Karol (far left) and her three children holding the community audit report with other volunteers and local authorities in health and education.

Through the process of becoming a community auditor, Karol has deeply reflected on her own dignity as a human being. Her newfound confidence and her interaction with the AJS team sparked an interest in social work and inspired her to enroll in university! Karol is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in social work.

In the mornings, Karol works sweeping the streets in her community, but in the afternoons she goes to her university classes. She does all this while also caring for her three little children and actively speaking up to local authorities to provide local schools and clinics with the resources they need.

For Hondurans like Karol, community auditing is not just a project, it is an opportunity to create a brighter future for their families. AJS is honored to come alongside community members like Karol as they tackle corruption and mismanagement that affects their lives. Together, we grow in hope and work for a better future in Honduras. 

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