By Marta García Terán.- It is 9:30 in the morning and Yerling Serrano is working on a budget to improve the sanitation system in his house. Yerling is an 18-year-old who lives in the Fátima neighbourhood of the city of Bluefields in Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCS). At the beginning of our conversation, he shows the papers he is working on and says that he learned how to budget thanks to his participation in the second two-month Vocational Course on Building and Plumbing with a Climate-Change Focus promoted by the RACCS Government’s Regional Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Directorate and the National Technological Institute, with technical and financial support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“I learned many things, from the theoretical part to learning to do budgets,” says Yerling proudly, explaining how everything was new for him as his mother, Martha Aguilar, listens to us talking from a corner of the house. “I learned to cement cinder blocks, to work with bottles, to tell whether well water is suitable for drinking or not. I knew nothing at all at the beginning of the course and now I think I’ve learned.”
“Yerling seems to me to be in really good spirits, with a desire to continue; he’s more enthusiastic and eager to learn,” his mother comments, explaining that her son is budgeting the installation of a septic tank for their house. There are five people in the family, including Yerling’s mother, father and two younger siblings. “They really encouraged me to push ahead, saying that the course was more important than other things,” he recognizes.
Yerling is one of a group of 27 adolescent boys and girls outside of the school system and in situations of risk that successfully finished the two-month vocational course in October 2015. The aim of the technical training they received is to enable them to generate income for themselves and their families. “I want to take advantage of this course to find work as a builder or a helper,” Yerling stresses, mentioning that he has signed up for a computer design course promoted by INATEC in Bluefields in order to continue his training, insisting that “I want to continue learning many other things.”
“I’m a different person following the course. I’ve got new experiences, new knowledge and a real desire to push ahead,” he says, explaining how during the training they worked on their self-esteem and conflict resolution with a psychologist. The idea is for these kids to develop social competencies and life skills with the aim of increasing their capacity to express their feelings, needs and opinions, allowing them to achieve personal well-being and successfully interact with their environment, helping them attain greater positive social integration.
“I’m thankful to everyone that has made this possible,” Yerling
concludes, “including the facilitators, the Regional Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Directorate, and UNICEF, because they’ve also supported another 26 people in the same way they supported me and that’s going to help us a lot.”
As a result of this strategy developed since 2013 in the Northern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region and since 2014 in the RACCS, a total of 58 adolescents (25 girls and 33 boys) have been trained in the municipality of Puerto Cabezas and 66 (20 girls and 46 boys) in Bluefields, with an overall investment of approximately US$ 178,000.