Art-3 D-Barrio, more than a Honduran cultural legacy

Denis Alexander Berrios and his Art 3 D Barrio is using art to save at-risk Honduran children Photo: Working on a mural

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, May 31, 2013 — A network of young volunteers from different districts of Tegucigalpa is changing the face of the capital.

The founder of Art-3 D Barrio is helping young artists channel their energies into something positive for the country. Young artists from the most depressed neighborhoods in the country are creating beautiful artwork.

“Imagine in the future to make inter-neighborhoods contests of all these groups, we will discover many talents and put at the service of our country.”

Inside a narrow doorway in an ally in the La Leona neighborhood of Tegucigalpa, five year old Ham Barrios happily greets his father, the founder of the project, wearing a painter’s apron. He tells us he paints, like his Daddy.

Inside the house, the room burst into colors and textures, brushes, paints, on the stand, a picture yet unfinished, and facing a self-portrait of the painter with his son, on bamboo halves together by way of a large canvas.

Denis Alexander Berrios, a thin young man, ruddy-faced, gentle, talks about the project that represents his greatest pride: Art-3 D-Barrio: “The 3 is an” e “backwards and symbolizes the first three capital districts with we started the pilot project, Villa Union, Flor Occidental y Campo Cielo,” explains Berrios. He is the creator of this project to save children and at risk youth.

Berrios not only wanted to give young people a way to create art, but also wanted to create a positive alternative to the drug use and criminal way of life that consumes these poor neighborhoods. As a survivor of these neighborhoods, Denis knows the risks of living here. He came to his friends and colleagues and to recruit volunteers to help with the project.

The idea is to form a network of volunteers in each district to initiate the work, and although not all of them are artists, they are always young with potential. He teaches them techniques and encourages them to take long-term ownership of their works.  

Because Denis does not have support from any public, private or intenrational institution, Denis funds the initiative by selling merchandise, holding festivals and cultural events.

Denis also visits local schools and offers to create murals in exchange for the cooperation of teachers. Teachers provide instruction and in exchange, students collect disposable items such as brightly colored disposable caps to make into art.  Students learn both art and the advantages of recycling, turning discarded items into art.

The organizers are also working with football gangs to transform their creativity in creating graffiti into drawing positive murals. Says Denis, “They have such low self-esteem, that when you are gives a brush and paint, they feel that they are part of society, because they feel that they are taken into account-“.

A recent report by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) sharply demonstrates the need for programs like the one Denis has founded. According to the study:

• 58% of the Honduran population is made up of less than 25 years.

• Of this 58%, 29% are aged between 12 and 18 years.

• 24% of the latter group neither work nor study.

• The 66.8% of adolescent women are victims of sexual violence (14% after 15 years and 10.5% before 12).

• Of the population aged 12 to 18, 69.9% study and work.

• The 37.6% more than work.

More than 300 public and private organizations work on behalf of children in Honduras, yet they have failed to find solutions for at-risk youth. Perhaps Art-3 D Barrio will provide a solution.


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Carmen Stella Van den Heuvel Almonacid

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