Sasquia Antúnez Pineda
I live in the Canadian province of Quebec with my husband and two young daughters. For the last couple of years I’ve been working on my Masters in Theological Studies and International Development at Wycliffe College (University of Toronto). Prior to this I was a high school teacher in Canada.
I decided to join the board of Basis in 2019 after having a conversation with a former professor. She knew of my passion for juvenile justice and my intention to do work in Honduras with at-risk youth and youth serving time in correctional centres, and she shared the work that Basis was doing in India, facilitating learning opportunities for children and youth living in impoverished conditions - a purpose which aligned beautifully with my desire to facilitate educational opportunities for at-risk youth in Honduras and around the world.
One of my major reasons for shifting my career from teaching to international development was the situation of youth in Honduras, my country of origin. On the one side, youth violence in the country is concerning. So many boys and girls are engaged in gang activity, driving them into illegal activity, often with tragic consequences for them and their families. On the other hand, this year, youth in Honduras were influential as observers in the recent presidential elections, ensuring the democratic process happened peacefully and transparently. Both situations show how powerful youth can be in bringing about positive or negative change in a country. But for youth to flourish, they need adults that nurture them with love, care, mentoring, modelling of ethical principles and good behaviours, and the facilitation of learning and creative opportunities. Thus, as a former teacher and currently as an intern in the area of juvenile justice at ASJ Honduras - an international organization working to bring about structural changes in Honduras - I truly believe in the power of education, especially its impact on children and youth.
One of the main reasons I joined the board of Basis is because its founders believe in education and the variety of possibilities that digital literacy can provide for children and youth worldwide (including those who might not have access to school), facilitating the unlocking of their creativity and potential.
As we know now, with the new realities of the pandemic, remote learning has become an important medium to provide educational opportunities. Basis' founders could foresee how digital literacy can provide many people living in impoverished conditions with access to learning opportunities and social interactions globally - opportunities and interactions which might not be possible otherwise due to lack of resources and other limitations.
This year, I plan to travel to Honduras to conduct a field-research project at juvenile detention centres concerning their rehabilitation and social reintegration programs. I will interview program implementation staff and youth concerning the change that is taking place in the youth and the operation of the programs within the centres. I hope to bring the Basis model to stakeholders in Honduras who are seeking to create learning opportunities for incarcerated and at-risk youth.
I continue to be a Basis board member because I am inspired by their vision and focus on innovation, doing community development at the international level. Basis, to me, brings freshness in how we look at international development, beginning with the passion of its founders and the respect they have for local communities and cultures, and how they sustain their development work by working with local partners in India and soon, other countries.
I foresee a bright future for Basis and its beneficiaries, a future I hope to be part of!