How does a small town respond when gang members from “the world’s most violent city” less than an hour away begin to stream into their bars and streets? For residents of Cofradia, Honduras, they gather in the town square and DANCE!
Located about a half hour west of San Pedro Sula, Cofradia is a tiny town with a population of about 18,000. On weekends especially, the town has become a host for gang members to grab a cerveza or sing karaoke. Sometimes the night ends in a fight, sometimes a death.
To counter violence, city officials decided to host ZUMBA fitness in the town square on weekend evenings—Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
I got to participate in one of these community-wide events when visiting a friend who currently resides about a block away from the town square. The dance exercise begins at 7:00 PM, about an hour after the sun sets all year-round since Honduras is so close to the equator. Several hundred people gathered to participate as well as watch the ZUMBA activity. We laughed and danced, following the moves of the instructor on stage. It felt like a dance party, exercise class and neighborhood block party all in one. When I crossed the street to collect my phone to record a video, I noticed a couple police patrolling the area. Although law enforcement was present, safety on the streets is ensured more by a group of people coming together for some fun exercise than additional guns and weapons.
“This is fitness for community development at its finest,” I thought.
Just a few more blocks down the street I found a CrossFit gym that also offers ZUMBA. As someone who works for a fitness center dedicated to community development, I was thrilled to see that residents in Cofradia have opportunities for fitness that are creating healthier inhabits and habitation.