By Marta García Terán.- Eighteen-year-old Ronny Enríquez had been working as a builder’s helper for a few months when he learned that the second Vocational Course on Building and Plumbing with a Climate-Change Focus was going to be held in Bluefields, promoted by the Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Regional 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. Ronny successfully applied and became one of the 19 boys and 8 girls that participated in this latest version of the course.
Ronny explains that during the eight weeks the course lasted, he began to appreciate the need to have training. “I’m not studying now,” he states, “but I want to finish secondary school in order to go to university and study civil engineering.” He says he realized this thanks to this training space that is precisely intended to empower and technically train adolescents who are outside the school system and in situations of risk, helping them generate income for themselves and their families.
“I learned about building and doing budgets, but also about myself,” Ronny recalls, explaining that the support of a psychologist during the training also helped him overcome problems, to think things over. The course strategy includes the development of social competencies and life skills with the aim of the adolescent participants increasing their capacity to express their feelings, needs and opinions. This strategy has allowed them to achieve personal well-being and successfully interact with their environment, which are the first steps towards a more positive social integration.
Ronny considers that he has made both male and female friends: “I get on with almost all of them.” And he is quite clear when talking about the relationship with the girls that participated in the training: “When the girls couldn’t do something, we helped them, and when we couldn’t do something, they helped us.”
Ronny lives with his mother and three younger siblings in a simple wooden house in the Loma Fresca neighbourhood of the city of Bluefields in Nicaragua’s Southern Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region (RACCS). He says that his mother was happy and encouraged him to go to classes when she saw he was taking up his studies again. “I feel different now, I think differently,” he states, mentioning that his father will be at the course graduation ceremony. “I no longer hang out with people I hung out with before. I want to be a good person.”
“If another course like this comes up, I’d tell my friends to go, that they can learn how to change their lives there, to find a job,” he concludes, reflecting on the changes he has noted in himself in just a few weeks.
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.