Knowledge is a ground spring of hope and stability.  Expanding access to education fortifies families and communities, one person at a time.

María Nely Laínez is a homeless single mother of two. She is also, at 29-years-old, finally a student in the eighth grade.

Growing up in Candelaria, Honduras, María never had the chance to attend school as a child. Like many of her neighbors, María’s family was poor and her community was plagued by crime and gang violence. Still, she was determined to someday go to school so that she could find better work and support her young children.

“My family has no home, but we are still people and we still have dreams,” said María. “Despite everything, we can succeed if we keep moving forward. That’s why I want to learn—so I can do my part to move us all forward.”

María applied to EDUCATODOS, a program for nontraditional students, and received a scholarship that Counterpart offers through a local partner, the Comisión de Acción Social Menonita (CASM).

“I couldn’t just let my mind rot,” said María. “I wanted to set a good example for my children. Education is an opportunity we can’t afford to miss. It’s okay to be poor in pocket, but not in mind.”

Maria attends class on weekends, meeting her instructor and classmates at churches or community centers. During the week, she studies with textbooks and audio files purchased with her scholarship.

Counterpart has funded 148 scholarships like María’s through grants to its local partner in Honduras. CASM works in Honduras’s most challenging communities and awards scholarships to citizens with limited resources and a commitment to community service.  Most scholarship recipients are active members of CASM’s Community Revitalization Committees or Youth Networks, dedicated to combating crime and poverty in their communities.

“My country is not at peace,” said María. “With few job opportunities, our young people feel forced to join gangs and turn to crime. But we can change this if we work towards the good of the community.  My education is valuable to me as a woman and a mother, and it is an asset to my community.”

Through the CASM scholarship program, Counterpart helps equip emerging leaders to reach their goals of improving their communities and building safer and more secure lives.


Program: Citizen Participation for More Responsive Governance (CPRG)
Funded By: United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Partners: International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), Management Systems International (MSI), Comisión de Acción Social Menonita (CASM)

This story is a part of our #LeadMore series, a weekly story recognizing our local partners and community leaders.

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