By Carlos Andrés Orellana Cruz, ASONOG team, Forus' member in Honduras.

My name is Carlos Andrés Orellana Cruz, I'm 26 years old and I live in Santa Rosa de Copán in Honduras, a city that used to be known for having a cultured and artistic population. Now, unfortunately, it is one of the most infertile areas for social action and active citizen participation. However, here, we find the headquarters of an NGO platform that represents many of the pillars that I consider necessary for the achievement of a brighter future, a fair and sustainable society. Two years ago I joined ASONOG as a volunteer for a project that sought to provide support and make visible the conflict experienced by a community affected by the scourge of the extractive model in my country, specifically mining. 

I would like to share instead of an anecdote detailing a particular event, but the feeling I got from my experience as a citizen involved in development and civil society action. Thanks to ASONOG's encouragement and support, I was able to enter the world of grassroots organizations in defense of the territory, understanding that the key to the protection and survival of our land defenders is in the union of different organizations across the country.

I was lucky to be part of an initiative of articulation that we named the Honduran National Coordinator Against Extractivism, where I met many leaders of movements in defense of the territory and the environment. I earned their trust, made many friends, and acquired knowledge and experiences that, until today, strengthen my determination to dedicate my life and my career to this issue. I ventured into other areas of social activism and citizen participation. I got enrolled as a human rights defender with the organization ACI Participa, which has worked hand-in-hand with ASONOG on the issue of extractivism in the region. From my role as a human rights defender I have used my training, experiences, and ideas to support student and civil society movements, developing proposals for communication strategies and personal and digital security protocols. 

As part of my university studies in agricultural production, I became familiar with the world of social management in the area of food and nutritional security and sovereignty, another of the fundamental axes that encourages me to participate actively as a citizen.  This couldn’t be possible without the opportunity that ASONOG offered with the internship in the Voice for Change Association Program. Lastly, also through ASONOG, I have had the experience of being part of the Central American Civic Action Platform, an initiative that brings together young people from countries in the region who represent social, political, territorial and student movements.

In a very short amount of time, these experiences, all have contributed to develop my perspective and my ideals when it comes to obtaining results in the framework of civil society organisations. The articulation of efforts is the key. 

I believe that ASONOG is a faithful representation of the principle of unity and strength, a fundamental reference to understand that the only way to protect ourselves is by protecting others. Social fights should not be isolated; the transformation of society cannot occur in a small group of people seeking power quotas, but in an active and warring citizen participation, with effective knowledge exchange and commitment to principles of social justice, democracy, and awareness.

Photos ACI Participa & Carlos Andrés Orellana Cruz portrait