(José Manuel Capellín, affectionately known as Menín, is the National Director of Casa Alianza Honduras. He also served in the past as National Director in Mexico and Guatemala. Menín is a native of Spain but he has lived for over 40 years in Central America and is internationally respected as an expert on at-risk youth.)
Facts & Figures
Casa Alianza Honduras
Year Established: 1987
National Director: José Manuel (Menín) Capellín
In view of the profound economic poverty and political upheaval that has rocked Honduras, the need to care for and protect children and teenagers is more urgent than ever.
Casa Alianza Honduras was opened in 1987 and has three residential centers serving children and teenagers in desperate need of our support. In addition to providing crisis care to an average of 180 boys and girls every night, Casa Alianza Honduras also provides specialized care for girls victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, and for boys with harmful substance addiction problems.
- Between January and August 2011, there were 779 documented killings of youths under 23 years of age, of which 186 of the victims were children under 18 years of age.1
- There is an increasing wave of femmicide and violence against women and girls.2
- In interviews with 143 homeless children in Honduras, 100% had at least one sexually transmitted disease, and 48.1% had been abused by members of their own family.3
- There is a rising incidence of teenage pregnancy. 30% of all registered pregnancies in the country are in girls under 18 years of age.4
On September 29, 2011, Casa Alianza Honduras celebrated its 24th
anniversary. For me this also was a celebration of the day 24 years ago that Covenant House gave me the immense privilege to establish a Casa Alianza in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. It was such an honor for me to take up the Mission of Covenant House—to provide unconditional love and absolute respect to the kids we serve—and to begin the work necessary to protect and support to the many children and teens in Honduras who live in immensely difficult situations.
Over all these 24 years, Casa Alianza Honduras has provided care for more than 40,000 kids. Tragically, some have died along the way, but the majority are now young adults, making their mark in society, and working every day to build a better country.
Since our founding in 1987, over nine hundred Honduran men and women have formed part of our team, each one with the belief that--through respect and love--it is possible to make this world a better place for children and teens in need. These individuals have come into our Casa Alianza family and have been true to the Covenant that we have with every child--living the Mission that has bought us all together.
There are also so many other people who have contributed greatly to our work, many of whom I have never even met. They have demonstrated their solidarity with us through their cooperation and the economic support they have so generously given. Many are people from other countries and other cultures, including many from the United States, who have worked alongside us, from near and far, to support this Covenant we have with our kids.
Today we are facing an uncertain future. We have no shortage of old problems as well as many new challenges. Here in Central America, we continue to experience tremendous inequality and injustice, and it is children and teens who often suffer the most. Far too many are abandoned, neglected, and abused, shattered like broken dolls at the hands of deceitful and harmful individuals.
However, despite the challenges we face, we keep searching for daring and innovative solutions. We continue to trust in the bonds that are stronger than nationality, religion or culture, knowing that what really binds us together is unconditional love for those who have suffered the most, and that, through this love, it is truly possible to realize our dreams and make this world a better place for children and teens.
I invite you to form a part of this dream and to enter into our community. I would so love to have you to join me in this venture that is so challenging yet also so engaging and noble. So let me say to you—“Nuestra casa es su casa”-- “Our house is your house.” You don’t need to need to knock. Just open the door and come right in.
José Manuel (Menín) Capellín
Casa Alianza Honduras
Programs Unique to Casa Alianza Honduras:
The largest residential center of Casa Alianza Honduras, the Crisis Center, cares for between 160 and 180 resident boys and girls every night, including victims of domestic violence, abuse and labor exploitation, unaccompanied children migrants, and homeless children rescued from the streets.
The program provides for the basic needs of every child who arrives at the center, including food, shelter, clothing, medical care, friendship, respect, and security. Young people from all three Levels of the Casa Alianza model
live in this main residence which is divided into several separate small buildings. As in every Casa Alianza, the youth advance from level to level based on their progress with their Life Plan and goals for the future.
The Crisis Center Residential Home is located in the heart of Tegucigalpa and takes up an entire city block in size.
The Querubines Home for Girl Victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking
The Querubines Home (meaning “Cherub Angels Home”) was opened in 2008 and dedicated to victims of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking. The staff at the Home provide care for an average 60 to 80 girls per year. The majority of the victims arrive at Querubines via a judicial order from a Judge or Prosecutor and it serves as a safe house especially for those girls who need to be hidden from their traffickers. Querubines has the capacity to house up to 26 residential girls at any one time and it is always operating at full capacity. The Home provides the specialized care needed to deal with the profound wounds inflicted upon the victims, helping to restore self-esteem and support a positive reintegration back into society.
The Rafael Home for Boys with Addiction Problems
The Rafael Home is based in a semi-rural location just outside of Tegucigalpa, providing a specialized program for boys with addictions to harmful substances. The staff at the Home care for between 10 and 15 boys at any one time.
The services provided in the Home are structured in 4 stages:
Stage 1 – Detoxification
When a child comes off harmful substances, the first experience they have to deal with is withdrawal. For the first 3 to 7 days in the residence, the child receives specialized withdrawal care and sleeps alone in a room, under the direct observation of the team.
Youth in this stage undergo intensive care all day long, as well as a physically strenuous exercise to help them remove toxins from their bodies. This is combined with good healthy meals, plenty of water, and regular sleep.
Stage 2 - Advice
In this stage, the boys are evaluated to assess their skills and strengths so that the staff can create a Rehabilitation Plan with every child that includes realistic goals and targets for progress.
Stage 3 – Stabilization
The main aim of this stage is to continue to develop the skills and strengths of each boy, especially in terms of education and training.
Stage 4 – Integration
This stage prepares boys to be reintegrated back into society. Through education, training and employment, we provide the skills so that they can live a life independently and confidently without drugs.
Street Outreach and Legal Support
The Casa Alianza Honduras Street Outreach and Legal Support Program works with homeless children and teenagers directly on the streets, to offer an alternative to the life they are living. They also provide legal support such as help securing birth certificates and other important legal identity papers, filing legal complaints with the authorities for abuses of children, and providing follow-up to important pending legal processes.
The Street Outreach team creates positive relationships with the youth on the streets while offering the support which encouraging youth to take advantage of the 24-hour residential services that are offered at Casa Alianza Honduras
Casa Alianza Honduras has a long and well-established program of advocacy, specific to the realities and risks faced by children and teenagers in Honduras.
Examples of the advocacy work carried out by Casa Alianza Honduras:
Border Program for the Victims of Trafficking and Illegal Migration
- Several cases of human rights abuses of children have been sent by Casa Alianza Honduras to the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS).
- Casa Alianza Honduras has presented testimony to the International Committee on the Rights of the Child of the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. This resulted in 160 observations and 48 petitions from other governments to the state of Honduras for improved protection and security for youth in Honduras.
- In May 2011, National Director José Manuel (Menin) Capellín was invited to a high level international meeting organized by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), in Washington DC, regarding violence in the Central American region.
- In May 2011, Casa Alianza Honduras submitted a proposal for the prevention of violence in Honduras and the strengthening of citizen security. The meeting was organized by the Organization of Private Institutions in Defense of Children and their Rights, which was headed by Casa Alianza Honduras and consists of over 100 organizations. The proposal was received by the Honduran Secretary of State and Minister of Interior who publically promised to bring it to the SICA, the System for Central American Integration.
- Casa Alianza Honduras has carried out longstanding ongoing advocacy and collaboration with the Honduran Juvenile Justice System, most currently supporting a new initiative for a program of restorative justice.
- Casa Alianza Honduras has trained more than 1,550 judges, police officers, and immigration officials in the past year on anti-trafficking and other issues pertaining to youth.
- Casa Alianza Honduras has collaborated with local universities to create a post-graduate academic credential ("Diplomado") in Trafficking for public officials and Casa Alianza staff.
According to UNICEF figures, more than 3,500 unaccompanied children leave Honduras every year, heading north to the US in search of political freedom and economic stability. These kids face extraordinary risks of abuse, exploitation and trafficking. Once in Mexico, large numbers are picked up by Mexican authorities and sent to a holding correctional facility at Tapachula. Around 25 to 30 kids are returned in busses to Honduras by Mexican authorities every week.
Since January 2010, members of the staff from Casa Alianza Honduras have arrived at the Honduran border with Guatemala every week to meet the buses deporting kids back to Honduras. To date Casa Alianza Honduras has met over 900 unaccompanied kids coming across the border, and has provided care for over 54 in our residential centers.
As a result of the work of the Casa Alianza Honduras team, the Honduran Family Ministry (INFHA) has opened up a special overnight center for these kids in San Pedro de Sula, so that the children can be interviewed and evaluated before releasing them back into Honduran territory where many of them before simply headed North again.
The Prison Support Program
The Prison Support Program is unique among our Latin American Sites. Personnel from Casa Alianza Honduras work directly within both the boy’s and girl’s juvenile detention centers outside of Tegucigalpa.
The Prison team is made up of a Psychologist, and a Lawyer with support from other Casa Alianza Personnel. The team works directly with boys and girls in the jail providing them with Casa Alianza’s multidisciplinary model of comprehensive care. The team also investigates and reports on human rights violations committed against youths in the jails.
In addition to working with the kids, the Prison Support team also works directly with jail staff and guards, to train, encourage and support the development of a justice system based on rehabilitation and not on punishment.
The work and commitment of Casa Alianza Honduras to improve the jail system has earned the respect of many government officials within the juvenile justice system, giving Casa Alianza Honduras a very important role to play in this arena.
The Violence Monitoring Program (Observatorio de la Violencia)
The Violence Monitoring Program "Violence Watch" carries out the vital service of documenting the many kinds of violence being committed against youth in Honduras.
The Monitoring team investigates and writes monthly reports focusing on both the human rights situation and human rights violations of young people in Honduras, as well as cases of extrajudicial executions committed against children and teenagers in Honduras. We also prepare special reports on specific human rights violations committed against youth in Honduras.
These reports are published and circulated widely to national and international governments and organizations, to raise awareness about the crimes that are taking place, and to ensure that necessary domestic and international laws are being applied, including convictions of the perpetrators of these crimes.
1Casa Alianza Honduras, Monthly Report, August 2011, http://www.casa-alianza.org.hn/images/documentos/Observatorio/obseragosto11.pdf
3Cited fron Consortium for Street Children, Street Children Statistics, http://www.streetchildren.org.uk/_uploads/resources/Street_Children_Stats_FINAL.pdf