By Marta García Terán.- Sashina Chamorro is 16 years old and lives in the Fátima neighbourhood of the city of Bluefields in Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCS). She is one of the 8 adolescent girls and 19 adolescent boys that received the second two-month Vocational Course on Building and Plumbing with a Climate-Change Focus and is quite adamant that she had never imagined she would learn to make wells or water and sanitation systems: “who would have thought that a girl like me was going to mix cement?”
“I really liked the course; it was very interesting and really fun” recalls Sashina confidently. She was selected to participate because she is teenage mother with a six-month-old girl called Britsha. “When she grows up,” she says, “I’m going to tell her everything that’s happened to me on the course. I wonder what she’ll say to me about it all.”
Sashina explains that a girlfriend convinced her to put her name down for the training because it “would be fun,” so in the end they both applied. Reflecting on the fact that both boys and girls successfully participated in this training course in an area usually considered to be for males only. she says that although there were more boys than girls, “we learned together, we worked as a group and we could do things better that way.”
“We learned to build walls with bottles, filling them with sand, and to make cement mixtures, as well as how to measure and to make columns,” Sashina explains, adding that “Now I know how to do it, it’s going to be very useful for me, because I’m not going to have to hire people. I can do it myself.”
She also stresses that they were able to understand all of the processes well thanks to the course teachers. “We did relaxation with the psychologists and we talked about self-esteem; we could talk to them about any problem,” she adds. The course strategy includes the development of social competencies and life skills as a first step towards more positive social integration.
“I’m sad the course has ended,” Sashina says, commenting on the weeks of training she received. “I made a lot of friends and felt happy about the support I received, because they taught me things, they helped me if I didn’t know something.” A few hours after the course graduation ceremony, she states that “I’m excited about the whole process.”
The course intends to empower and technically train adolescents that are outside of the school system and in situations of risk, providing them with training that will help them generate income for themselves and their families. “It’s going to be useful in my life,” Sashina stresses. “It’s good to learn new things.”
She is currently doing her fourth year at night school and has one more year to go before finishing her secondary studies. “I want to study a university course; I want to be a doctor,” she adds, considering that meanwhile she can work as a builder and could even end up as an engineer as well as a doctor.
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.