International Development Law Organization

Young people promote social change in Honduras through photography

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

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Suly Guzman is 19 years old. She grew up in Rivera Hernández, a neighborhood of San Pedro Sula with high levels of violence and crime. She is one of the 19 young people who participated in the project Pixels of Life, an initiative developed by IDLO to empower communities through photography as a transformative and inclusive tool to show the positive side of communities that have been stigmatized by society.

“IDLO has changed not only 19 lives, but also made a difference for 19 families and a community in general” noted Suly when presenting her photos together with her project partners. Since she came to know about the Pixels of Life project, Suly has decided to study graphic design.

“Neither age nor weather are limitations for the elderly people who sell their products on the streets of Rivera Hernández. They persevere and above all they have the experience to sell and promote their products. Beyond offering their products, they embody true stories that inspire.” (Photo: Suly Guzman)


“Everyone can choose between stopping and complaining about the bad things in their lives, or getting up, carrying the burden and moving forward in order to achieve a new goal. It's a matter of changing the lens through which society looks at things.” (Photo: Elky Milla) ​


“Our community, Rivera Hernández, teaches you to take a different perspective, looking for the good side. Although in the beginning it is not what your eyes would like to see, with a little bit of effort you can find another approach and be different.” (Photo: Jasmín Laínez)

Elky Milla is among the same group of young people from Rivera Hernández. He left school and started to work as a carpenter to help his aunt, grandmother and brother earn a living. Committed to his work but full of dreams, he combined his job with voluntary work in the ‘Centro de Alcance’ outreach center of Rivera Hernández. Elky explains: “What I like the most about photography is that you can capture the positive angle of an individual or a community. Everything I have learned through this project has given me an opportunity to think about my future goals.”

Pixels of Life is part of an initiative conducted by IDLO in collaboration with national institutions, local government and civil society organizations with a focus on promoting access to justice for the most vulnerable groups in society.

“Since 2015, IDLO has been working with the municipality of San Pedro Sula to bolster the response to violence,” explained Elena Incisa di Camerana, IDLO’s Regional Program Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean. “A key element of IDLO’s approach is to work with local institutions but also engage directly with vulnerable groups, to raise awareness, strengthen trust and provide alternatives with the long-term goal to reconstruct the social fabric.”

Ms. Incisa di Camerana continued: “The objective of Pixels of Life is to give young people greater knowledge of human rights, the right to education, personal and economic empowerment and other rights that unfortunately are often unknown and/or violated. The young participants have become photographers, artists, observers and transformers of reality through a lens.”

The project is run in collaboration with the Pro-Development Committee and the ‘Centro de Alcance’ outreach center of Rivera Hernández, as well as the participants’ parents. The President of the Pro-Development Committee, Rene Maradiaga, commented: “From the beginning, we supported this project because we understood that it would benefit the majority of young people in our community.”

By promoting art as a tool to bring about change in communities that lack opportunities and access to justice, Pixels of Life aims to change the perception of some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods and communities of San Pedro Sula, many of which carry deep wounds from the legacy of violence.

Over the course of the Pixels of Life project, IDLO conducted 190 hours of training sessions on human rights as well as photography techniques. Participants were subsequently guided through the creation of micro- businesses, so they can move forward in seeking opportunities for personal and professional growth.

The project concluded with an exhibition of the participants’ photographs at the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Cortés in the Northern Region of Honduras in August 2019 and at the National Identity Museum in Tegucigalpa in September 2019.

Pixels of Life is implemented by IDLO and funded by the United States Department of State as part of a wider program, which includes a municipal campaign to build awareness of rights among vulnerable communities in Honduras.