Published on February 9th, 2018 | by Lilly Lecanu-Fayet0
Daniel Pacheco speaks to Junior English classes
On Thursday, Jan. 11, the Spanish immersion classes and select AP Language classes watched Daniel Pacheco speak about the work he does to help end violence in an area that has been devastated by gang violence.
Pacheco is a pastor and humanitarian working in Riviera Hernández, a neighborhood in Honduras with one of the highest homicide rates in the world. His organization, Casa de la Esperanza, organizes neighborhood events, sports activities for kids affected by the violence and negotiates with gangs in the area. Pacheco has been able to start leading the neighborhood down a safer path through education and protection.
English teacher Meredith Louria first learned about Pacheco and his work after she reached out to Sonia Nazario, author of Enrique’s Journey and the “New York Times” article “How The Most Dangerous Place on Earth Got Safer”. After learning more about the work he does, the immersion and English teachers believed it would be beneficial for the students to hear him speak.
“We wanted to connect the issues of immigration in the news and personalize them for students,” Immersion teacher Claudia Bautista said. “This presentation allowed us to see the causes and effects of Central American immigration and the horrible experiences that await people that are deported. It was a powerful experience for all my classes.”
Many students went into the presentation with little to no prior knowledge of the state Honduras is in or the importance of the work Pacheco does, but everyone walked out with a deeper appreciation for the peaceful county we live in.
“Before this presentation I had not known of Mr. Pacheco’s work,” Sergio Ponce (’19) said. “However, I expected a poignant, powerful, inspiring story about critical gang related problems in Honduras. Walking out of the presentation I realized how thankful I am for the area I live in and caused me to want to take action and help this organization.”
Pacheco touched on a number of intense and touching subjects, varying from the reason he started his organization to some of the hardest moments he has been through since committing himself to the project.
“The most impactful parts of the presentation were the heartbreaking stories of the young children being tortured, abused and killed by gangs, as well Mr. Pacheco’s detailed recollection of the screams and shock of viewing the death of another human being,” Ponce said.
Along with Ponce, Bautista, who interpreted for Pacheco, was deeply impacted by his words.
“Interpreting for him was extremely difficult as I learned about many of the topics along with the audience and saying it out loud was extremely difficult. When I interpret I usually know the topic beforehand, however, with the Pastor, I was learning about the issues along with the audience. It was extremely difficult to keep my composure, especially when describing the rape of young girls,” Bautista said.
Pacheco has returned home to Honduras to continue his work, but Louria and Bautista are working to have him return to talk to more classes in May. La Sociedad, a service club run by Bautista and her daughter Paloma Bautista (’18), is raising money in hopes of providing five new computers to Casa de la Esperanza.